Parabens are a widely used preservative in cosmetics. They are also used as ingredient in fragrance, but you won’t find them listed on the label. Fragrance is considered a proprietary blend, and manufacturers consider their blends trade secrets, they are not required to disclose the fragrance chemicals in the list of ingredients. Natural parabens occur at low levels in certain foods, such as carrots, vanilla, and onions. However, parabens are metabolized when eating, making them less estrogenic. However, synthetically produced parabens found in cosmetics are absorbed through the skin, thus bypassing the metabolic process, and entering the blood stream and body organs intact.
- face and body cleanser
- body scrubs
WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Ethylparaben, butylparaben, methylparaben, propylparaben, isobutylparaben, isopropylparaben, other ingredients ending in –paraben
Endocrine Disruptor: Parabens are potential endocrine disruptors due to their ability to mimi estrogen (1)
Skin Aging and DNA damage: Methylparaen can lead to UV damage of skin cells and distrust the cell growth rate (2).
Cancer: Parabens can mimic estrogen and have been detected in human breast cancer tissues, suggesting a possible correlation between parabens in cosmetics and cancer (3).
Developmental & Reproductive Toxicity: Propyl and butyl parabens are understood to reduce sperm production (4), and lead to lowered levels of testosterone (4), thus disrupting the male reproductive system.
- Coal Tar Dyes
- Dibutyl Phthalate
- PEG Compounds
- Sodium Laureth Sulfate
- Darbre PD., et al., Paraben esters: review of recent studies of endocrine toxicity, absorption, esterase and human exposure, and discussion of potential human health risks. Journal of Applied Toxicology, 2008
- Darbre PD., et a., Paraben esters: review of recent studies of endocrine toxicity, absorption, esterase and human exposure, and discussion of potential human health risks. Journal of Applied Toxicology, 2008.
- Vince, G. “Cosmetic chemicals found in breast tumours.” New Scientist. Jan 12, 2004.
- Oishi S.,Lack of spermatotoxic effects of methyl and ethyl esters of p-hydroxybenzoic acid in rats. Food and Chemical Toxicology, vol. 42, pp 1845-49, 2004.