I write often on natural and organic skin care, from healthy and realistic makeup to skin care free of fillers and harmful chemicals. The ingredient “no-nos” I always look for and religiously try to avoid are parabens, sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), propylene glycol and petroleum. Since one could write major reports on each of these chemicals and their harmful and potentially carcinogenic effects, beYOUmag.com will be bringing you a new Healthy Skin Series breaking down each one of these regularly used agents and natural healthy alternatives.
What are Parabens? Parabens are chemicals that operate as a preservative to extend a product’s shelf life to ward off bacterial growth. (Now I know why some of my European friends in college who would bring back gorgeous skin care products that were made in small batches would keep them in our mini fridge.) Parabens are used in thousand of skin care products, toiletries and even some processed foods.
Why Should I Avoid Parabens? Parabens can mimic the hormone estrogen, which is known to play a role in the development of breast cancer. When parabens are applied to the skin and absorbed through the pores they can mimic estrogen in the body. Too much estrogen in the system can result in hormonal mood disturbances, weigh gain, fluid retention as well as the greater potential for breast cancer. One study has shown that parabens were found in samples of breast tumors. However, in the interest of being fair and balanced (my editor made me say this part), no causal link with cancer has yet been proven and so far there is no scientific evidence to support any link with any form of cancer.
But that’s really the bottom-line for me. I don’t need to wait for a study to come out a few years down the line that says, “OK, we messed up. There is a link between parabens and cancer” â€” like we’ve heard about so many other things before (tobacco anyone?) So while, there are some that will say that parabens are ok as a needed preservative, if you have any family history of cancer or are looking to clean out harmful toxins from your medicine cabinet, including deodorants, parabens should and can easily be weeded out.
Paraben-Free Alternatives So now that you know that parabens in products are abundant and why they are potentially harmful, here are some excellent paraben-free products:
A great all around face cleanser is M.D. Forte’s Replenish Hydrating Cleanser. This product is soap-free, oil-free and paraben-free. Excellent for super sensitive skin.
For an every day body soap/shower gel that the entire family can use, Aubrey Organics is wonderful.
For a complete skin care line, skyn ICELAND is extraordinary. This line, from - you guessed it - Iceland, is filled with powerful antioxidants and made from the pristine glacial waters of that country. This is a very pure and intelligently designed line of high-performance yet chemical-free suite of products.
For paraben-free makeup, which is truly hard to find, (remember it’s a preservative, that’s why your Grandmother’s shade of coral lipstick might still be around) Jane Iredale’s line is the best-in-class. She has on her site an excellent overview of the dangers of parabens in makeup.
Seeking out responsible skin care products, like your food choices, should be fun. Treat your body as best you can. Finding healthy grooming products is really an easy way to begin the process. And you can always refer to the Enivornmental Working Group’s “Skin Deep” â€” a skin care product database showcasing harmful chemicals in every day products â€” to investigate your current products or to consult before buying new.
Next week, we’ll review sodium lauryl sulfates, their effects and product alternatives.