Friday, January 20, 2012

Parabens: Are your make-up and cosmetic products safe?

It's not true that what you don't know won't hurt you. Ever heard of parabens?

Look at the ingredients in your face and skin products, meaning, lotions, cleanser and moisturizer as well as creams, as well as shampoo and toothpaste. See the word "paraben" in there? Tip: this can be ethyl-, methyl-, butyl-, heptyl-, or prophylparaben.

Okay, if you see it printed there clearly, you might want to reconsider using that product again.

Why? Because you might have unknowingly exposed yourself to paraben dangers: you see, parabens are chemical preservatives linked to certain diseases. If applied on skin, given enough time, these can be absorbed directly into the blood stream.

Check the skin care products you're using!

Why are parabens so controversial?

There's a reason informed customers are shying away from products with paraben and brands are suddenly touting "paraben-free" labels on their products. Parabens are associated with premature skin aging, early puberty and decreased sperm levels in males, and, more importantly, breast cancer. The Breast Health Magazine lists some interesting studies concerning parabens that you might want to check out.

Of these paraben dangers, breast cancer gets perhaps the most attention and focus. Simply put, parabens mimic estrogen, and for decades, it has been known that estrogen is linked with the development and progression of breast cancer. Furthermore, through scientific examinations, parabens were found in breast cancer tissues. You can read more about that in Breast Cancer Fund.

You will be surprised to see that a lot of famous local and international comestic and skin care products use parabens. I have tried browsing around the local department store (SM and Watsons) and checked the known brands we see in tv and billboards, and yes, paraben is almost always listed in the ingredients.

Although for safety purposes I won't mention brands. :)

Does that mean that you should ban the use of parabens?

To be more clear, it is not yet proven whether parabens actually cause breast cancer, but the fact that parabens were found in breast cancer tissues is enough reason to be worried. Paraben might be the cause or simply a contributing factor, but the bottom line is, parabens are there for a reason. Therefore, I think that the mere association of parabens with these is enough for us to be cautious on what products we use, especially us females who are undeniably vain when it comes to our skin.

In simple terms: follow the precautionary principle. It's terrifying to continuously use a certain product only to discover later on that you had been inadvertently exposed yourself to long-term harm.

If you look around stores more carefully, there are always paraben-free products. I think we can all agree that it is always better to be safe than sorry.