Paraben, a widely popular ingredient used in cosmetic products such as lotions, shampoos among others, is a manmade preservative chemical. This inexpensive yet effective chemical provides protection against bacteria growth and other microorganisms for an extended period of time. The most common paraben used in beauty products are methyl, propyl and butyl paraben. However, concerns about the use of paraben arise as these preservatives can potentially harm our skin and affect health.
Before we learn the potential effects of paraben to health, here are mostly used skin care products that have paraben content.
- Facial Moisturizers – Parabens are included in facial and cosmetic moisturizers for they serve as common preservative. Many women use facial moisturizer to help retain moisture to the skin. This product works by creating impermeable barrier on the face, giving the skin a plump and full appearance.
- Anti-aging creams – Similar to facial moisturizers, anti-aging creams have parabens that serve as cosmetic preservative. This product is applied on the skin to minimize appearance of wrinkles and firm up the face.
- Foundations – Liquid and powder foundation contain one or more types of parabens as preservatives. They also allow these products to have longer shelf life. Foundation is used on the face to mask blemishes and to make the face appear smooth in texture and color.
Knowing the most common skin products to have paraben, the following are the potentially damaging effects of paraben to one’s health.
- It disrupts our endocrine system.
Cosmeticsinfo.org tells that methyl, propyl, and butyl forms of paraben impact the functioning of the endocrine system. Parabens can mimic hormones in the body and disrupt normal functions of the endocrine system. As endocrine disruptor, they are stored in the body tissue and affect the activity of the glands as well as hormone production in the body. Several disorders are associated to paraben that affect developmental, learning and reproductive functions of infants and children.
- It leads to premature aging.
A research reported that skin products with parabens accelerate skin aging process. Ironically, these beauty products are supposed to work as beauty enhancer and skin anti-agers. Researchers from Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine in Japan discovered that methyl type of parabens increases sensitivity to and damage from the sun. When the skin is exposed to damaging UV rays, skin cells die at a rapid rate than normal. It is crucial to read skin care products’ ingredients list to check for methylparabens so you won’t be buying those products.
- It can cause breast cancer.
Since parabens can mimic estrogen and mess up body’s endocrine system, lifelong exposure to estrogen can increase the risk for breast cancer. Estrogen and the synthetic estrogen are responsible in stimulating the division of breast cells and affect other hormones that stimulate breast cell division. Since the body cannot easily break synthetic estrogen, it accumulates in fat cells, including breast tissue. A 2004 study found concentrations of parabens, specifically methylparaben in human breast tumors. The study only examined the presence of parabens in the tumor but did not determine that they were the cause of tumors.
- It leads to early puberty.
Early puberty is seen in adolescent girls and boys due to endocrine disruptors. Paraben has this ability to simulate other hormones; thus, affecting body functions including reproduction, waste elimination, digestion and metabolism. Endocrinologists have observed that average age of puberty declines for the past decades. They found out those girls as young as eight already exhibit breast development and pubic hair growth. Even young boys face the same situation.
It is better that you check first the labels before purchasing or using products to your skin. Nowadays, there are paraben-free skin care products available in the market if you want to get rid of the potentially harming effects of paraben to your health. Nonetheless, being vigilant and aware are keys to keeping you safe and healthy at all times.