With all these paraben-free products flooding the market, we can’t help but wonder exactly what parabens are, and if we really should be staying away from them…

If you’ve been paying attention in the beauty aisles, you’ll probably have noticed that there are more and more products popping up that are free from some or other ingredient, with the words “free from parabens” possibly topping the lot.

Cue the panic. Parabens? What are parabens? Have I been using all the parabens and, as a result, slowly ruining my body? Is that why I have wrinkles? Or is this just another money-making gimmick giving brands an excuse to change us extra for the same old product?

OK, take a deep breath and calm down – we’ve got everything you need to know about parabens right here…

First thing’s first: what are parabens?

Parabens are basically preservatives that are added to many beauty products to prolong the shelf life, preventing the growth of bacteria, mould and fungi.

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If you check the ingredients list and see methylparaben, ethylparaben, butylparaben or propylparaben (so basically any fancy word ending in paraben), then you’ll know that product contains them.

They can be in anything from shampoos and body wash to mascara and face cream and, considering the fact that some products last in our cupboards for a good few months (or, in some cases, years), and many of these in super humid or moist conditions in your bathroom, they do need something to keep them ‘fresh’. But, as you know with food, additives and preservatives aren’t always that great.

So, why are they so bad?

Well, that’s when we get into the good old grey area. A research paper published by a British scientist revealed that paraben traces had been found in breast tissue, however, there has been no link found between parabens and cancer.

What is evident from the research though, is that parabens are able to penetrate our skin into our bodies, and that isn’t ideal since it has been found that they do disrupt normal hormone production.

In addition to this, it has also been discovered that parabens are present in some marine life, meaning that once they inevitably end up in the ocean, they are breaking through the skin barriers of some animals.

Right, but is there an alternative?

There most certainly is! These days, there are plenty of synthetic-free products out there, which means we don’t actually need to rely on these artificial ingredients any more – especially when they cause skin irritations for so many people.

Any green brands will avoid parabens, and you’ll generally find the words ‘free from parabens’ splashed across the product’s packaging.

However, some non-green brands simply replace one synthetic preservative with another one, so you’ll need to be clued up on your ingredients to be sure.

Final verdict on parabens…

There really isn’t any cause for major panic, but at the end of the day, it’s up to you whether or not you want to err on the side of caution, or if you’re trying to go more green, and if that’s the case, it’s time to bid parabens a farewell.