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What is a paraben? | Parabens in your makeup

Makeup with parabens

I’ve heard this word – paraben - enough times to know that there might be something in my makeup that I don’t want to put on my skin.  To be honest, I have never paid attention to the ingredients in my makeup and I have no idea what parabens are.  I decided to look into this and see what’s the problem with parabens in my makeup.  Here’s what I learned…

Let’s start with the basics: parabens are a synthetic chemical and highly effective preservative which allow makeup to sit on shelves for months (or years) and still be approved for purchase.  Just like in food, there are natural ingredients in makeup that go bad, and so chemicals are used to keep them “consumable”. 

What’s the problem with parabens?  Well, just like many products they have not been around long enough to be completely sure what the long-term results might be.  It is known that anything put on the skin is then absorbed by the body, and often a significant amount goes into the bloodstream.  There are obvious side effects – potential allergic reactions in the skin such as dermatitis, rosacea and eczema.  And also more worrisome problems like cancer.

What has been proven is that parabens have estrogen-mimicking properties.  Heightened estrogen levels has been linked with early puberty onset in young girls (which is on the rise).  And that heightened estrogen levels are a primary factor in breast cancer risk.  This is not sounding good…

Well, if that isn’t convincing enough for you, maybe this will be: studies have shown with more certainty that when interacting with the sun parabens react with UVB rays and cause DNA damage.  It also speeds the aging of the skin.  THAT’S RIGHT.  Parabens make your skin get older faster.

I think this enough information for me to be more wary next time I’m at the store. I’m definitely going to take a glance at the label more diligently so I can avoid things like cancer… and wrinkles!