Beauty Buzzwords: Parabens
Parabens. You see the word here, there and everywhere in the current world of beauty. The wellbeing industry has been host to a healthy and welcome debate on parabens with many experts, influencers and every day users of personal hygiene and cosmetic products having their say. You can find a wealth of knowledge on the internet about this buzzword, useful for anyone concerned about the potential risks parabens may pose to our health.
But what does the term ‘paraben free’ actually mean? It’s clear that the term is used to promote products or brands, but why is that important? And why do companies use this as a means to convince the consumer to complete a purchase of their product? Below I’ve conjured up a simple guide on what we need to know about parabens and why they are (or aren’t) used in our beauty products.
What are Parabens?
By definition, a paraben is: any group of compounds used as preservatives in pharmaceutical or cosmetics and in the food industry. Therefore parabens, as suggested by their definition, are a constant feature in our life and one difficult to avoid. Unless, of course, you actively look out for them. If parabens are used in a product they will appear under the ingredients list usually found on the back of product packaging. However, this is a little tricky as companies vary on what they call parabens, these can be; methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben and heptylparaben. In hair care products, this comes in the form of Sodium Lauryl Sulfate – more commonly known as SLS.
Why are the used?
Parabens are used first and foremost as a preservative in beauty products. Like any preservative, they aid in stopping the growth of bacteria, resulting in the product staying fresher for longer. The longevity of paraben beauty products makes for a more affordable commodity, with paraben-free products spoiling sooner and thus creating a need to replace the commodity more frequently. Parabens (or SLS) are easily identified when used in shampoo as they are the reason for its lather. A general rule is that the easier or quicker your shampoo lathers, the more parabens present.
What are the health risks?
Although there are no directly linked or confirmed health risks, more and more we are beginning to see consumers opt for paraben free products. Generally, these concerns originate from the potential connection of parabens and the growth of cancer cells, as explored by Dr Philippa Darbre. In particular, the emphasis of concern is placed on underarm products, e.g. anti-perspirants, as they are used daily next to the breast tissue. This is definitely a topic worth exploring by experts, but it must be stressed that there is no official connection.
Risks to hair, however, are somewhat more prominent and proven. Ever heard your stylist urging you to purchase sulphate-free shampoo? Sulphate in shampoo, despite being present in the majority of high street hair care, can contribute to drying our hair and scalp, fading hair colour and in rare cases, hair loss.
What are the benefits of using paraben-free products?
One of the most obvious benefits of using paraben-free products, is that you are using less chemicals and more natural ingredients on your body. Cosmetics that are clear of parabens are simplified in their ingredients, and thus purer. And when it comes to our bodies, the purer the ingredients the better, right? This idea mirrors that of clean living, a trend growing ever popular in the consumer market. Moreover, another benefit is that you are putting your mind at ease if you are concerned of the health risks parabens may pose. Shop paraben-free skin care.
The benefits of using sulphate-free haircare is a little more obvious. The omittance of these chemicals stop the stripping of your hairs important natural oils. This may be a little bit of a tough adjustment as your hair may seem greasier at the beginning of the transition, but it will adapt long term. Stick with it, and see the improvement in its condition and health for yourself. Shop paraben-free shampoos on eVitality.ca.
Paraben-free health and beauty
Generally I believe that the more natural a product, the better it is for you. In addition, removing as many chemicals as we can from everyday life is important to me. It’s definitely a challenge - and let’s be real, almost impossible - but the little changes really can make all the difference. To make things easier on yourself, look for green and natural health and beauty products.
The modern beauty landscape craves clean living, whether that’s in diet or beauty regimes and therefore I predict many brands will conform to our modern desires of a need for ‘clean’ beauty products. For paraben-free hair care I recommend earthsafe's Natural Fragrance range, for anything health or wellness, Kalaya Naturals is a great place to start, and for skin care I love Sukin Organics.
It can be difficult to filter through the vast array of personal care brands out there to make the best choices for you and your family, At eVitality, our medical team selects only the best, safest, and most efficacious products, free of parabens, sulphates, and phosphates, so you know you are providing the best options for yourself and your family.