What are Parabens and How Do They Effect Me?

labelThe topic of parabens have been popping up in a lot of conversations lately. Parabens are the most widely used preservatives in personal care products; they stop fungus, bacteria, and other microbes from growing in your favourite creams and makeup, especially in the moist, warm environment of a bathroom. Their names are a mouthful– methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben and isobutylparaben. You’ll find them listed on thousands of personal care products such as shampoos, mascara, foundations, and body lotions. They allow skin care products to survive for months or even years in your medicine cabinet; however, they also enter your body through your skin when you use these products.

Reports have shown that these preservatives can mimic estrogen and disrupt the body’s hormone system. Cornell University reports that a high lifelong exposure to estrogen can increase breast cancer risk. Estrogen, and synthetic chemicals that act like estrogen, play a role in stimulating the division of breast cells and affect other hormones that stimulate breast cell division. Your body does not easily break down synthetic estrogen, and it can accumulate in fat cells, including breast tissue. In 2004, a study by the University of Reading in the United Kingdom found concentrations of parabens, particularly methylparaben, in human breast tumors. The study examined only the presence of the preservatives in the tumors but did not determine that they were the cause of the tumors.

The ability of parabens to mimic other hormones makes them endocrine disruptors, substances that adversely affect the endocrine system. The endocrine system releases hormones into the bloodstream and is involved in a number of functions related to reproduction, waste elimination, digestion and metabolism. Endocrine disruptors can lead to early puberty in adolescent girls and boys, as reported by the New York Times. Endocrinologists have observed the average age of puberty decreasing in the past several decades and have seen girls as young as eight exhibit breast development and pubic hair growth. Endocrine disrupters can also lead to testicular enlargement and breast development in young boys.

On top of serious issues like those listed above, many products that come into contact with skin contain parabens, which often cause irritation of the skin. This is particularly true for adults, children or babies with sensitive skin. If you or your child has sensitive skin you may find that moisturizers, shampoos, and bath products, which contain these disrupters, may be causing the skin problems. Common skin problems associated with parabens include dermatitis, rosacea and other allergic reactions.

I bet your running to your bathroom now to read all the ingredients in your skincare products, and that’s good! Knowing what’s in your products is the first step to a healthy and safe skin care regime. At Dermaworks we care about your health. Our line of medical grade skincare are all paraben-free (well almost!) One product you’ll find on our shelves does contain a paraben, but for good reason. Our Firm and Protect Eye Cream contains a very small amount of parabens. Why? Because what you’re putting around your eyes matter. We need to be sure it’s completely bacteria free.

Ready to ditch your old products and replace them with paraben-free ones? Our products are available for purchase in store or online. Questions? Give us a call.