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Found in almost every skin care and beauty product we use, should we be concerned about this much talked about ingredient?

What are Parabens?

Parabens have been used since the 1950s as a preservative in products like shampoos, moisturisers, deodorants and mascaras. It works by preventing the growth of any bacteria, fungus and other potentially damaging microbes within the product itself. They are also used in glues, oils, soft drinks, sauces, processed meat and hundreds of other everyday products.

The main parabens used as preservatives in cosmetics come in two forms: “short chain” (methyl-and ethyl paraben) and “long chain” (propyl- and butyl paraben). There is also some limited use of isobutyl- and isopropyl parabens, also known as “branched chain parabens”.

How do you know if the product has parabens? Look out for methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben and isobutylparaben in the list of ingredients in the products you are using.

Should we be worried about Parabens?

Although it has often been quoted that parabens were originally developed as an active ingredient in antifreeze, it may not necessarily mean they’re bad for you in individual cosmetic and skincare products. It just does not sound too good when you think we use over at least 20 different products a day that contain parabens on ourselves.

A few studies have suggested that “long-chain” parabens could interfere with the body’s hormones, particularly reproductive hormones, causing developmental disorders, fertility problems and cancer.

In 2004, a small British study from the University of Reading found traces of five parabens in the breast tissue of 19 out of 20 women studied. While the study didn’t prove that parabens can cause cancer, it did confirm parabens were able to enter the skin and remain within tissue.

While strict EU laws have limited a safe amount in all cosmetic products sold in the EU (usually less than 1%), health campaigners have warned that cumulative exposure to the chemicals from several different products could be overloading our bodies and contributing to a wide range of health problems.

It has also been advised that pregnant women and young children avoid products with parabens. In Denmark some forms of parabens have been banned (propyl and butyl paraben, their isoforms and their salts) in cosmetics products for children 3 and below.

How to avoid

Look for products labelled “paraben-free” and read ingredient lists on labels to avoid products with parabens. Many natural and organic cosmetics manufacturers have found effective alternatives to parabens to prevent microbial growth in personal care products. Some companies have created preservative-free products that have shorter shelf lives than conventional products (six months to a year).

Of course, you won’t have to worry about parabens in any of the products that are sold on Pure Company as they are all 100% paraben free.

Start shopping for paraben-free, 100% natural skin care and beauty products here.