Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

How do you feel about parabens? Do you avoid them?

Temptalia's AnswerWhen it comes to anything science and beauty-related, I rely on the lovely people at The Beauty Brains to break it down for me. The last time I read about parabens, there wasn’t strong enough evidence to make a case against them. Reviews of past studies haven’t proved cause to fear them.

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64 thoughts on “How do you feel about parabens?

  1. Dawn

    I avoided them for awhile but some products I really like contain them. Though I do think that if you can make a product good without them, why add them at all?

  2. callie

    I don’t watch out for them, but I do choose natural products or higher quality products when possible, which are less likely to contain them!

    • Niki

      I concur, I try to avoid parabens for the most part because I like to have a homopathic approach to beauty and skin care.

  3. tg

    I try my best to keep them out of my skincare, body care (esp. deodorant!) and haircare (although I admit to using Redken’s All Soft products sometimes), and I absolutely won’t put any product with a paraben in it on my lips because of fear of ingestion. Sadly this leaves out the wonderful Chanel lip products. :(

    As for eye shadows, liners and blushes, I use some that contain parabens. If it’s only a couple, I can deal with it, plus I don’t wear shadows every day.

    PS – they are insidious little suckers. I bought some Maalox for heartburn, read the ingredients and there they were! Ingesting it is out of the question.

    • Moon

      What lippies to do you use?
      I have yet to find paraben-free lip products that I like. :(

      • tg

        MAC’s don’t have parabens. They contain phenoxyethanol or BHT which I’ve heard aren’t such great preservatives either, but they’re still not a paraben.

        I also use Bobbi Brown, Aveda, Tarte’s 24/7 balms and their new twist-up lip crayons.

  4. Avatar of Rae Rae

    Yay and nay — I’m fine with them for myself, but am always on the lookout for paraben-free products for my sister (who’s allergic to them)!

  5. I completely agree with you Christine. Also being that Parabens are just preservatives and are used in very tiny amounts, I don’t mind them a bit. In fact, I’d be more concerned about products without any preservatives because they can expire so quickly and harbor harmful bacteria.

  6. i try to avoid them as much as possible.

  7. Vanessa

    Parabens are an effective preservative. They are studies that show that they can’t even cross the skin because they aren’t potent enough to do so. I think it’s all unnecessary fear started up by one incredibly misinformed person that spread like wildfire because of the existence of the internet. It’s better to have preservatives in a product than to spread mould and bacteria all over your face because your product is a giant culture dish for microbes. Instead, why aren’t people more worried about formaldehyde releasers in their beauty products that are used as preservatives? Formaldehyde has been classified as a known human carcinogen by the IARC. How’s that for food for thought?

    • tg

      It was a study that discovered parabens in tissue of patients with breast cancer that started it all.

      I also worry about the products like diazolidinyl urea, which is a formaldehyde releaser. I do my best to avoid that too.

  8. The scientific evidence just isn’t there. Life’s too short to worry about that kind of thing, and miss out on quality makeup. :)

  9. Marjolijn

    Parabens are fine. They’re widely used in food (which is FDA aprroved), so if you can eat them safely, you can surely put them on your face and be safe.

  10. Hazel

    I don’t really avoid them. I also happen to buy products labelled as ‘natural’ or ‘organic’ anyway, and they have variations in their standards too.

  11. Lolly

    Parabens are great as they preserve your products to avoid breeding bacteria and increasing the shelf life of products so I think that they are good in that sense.

    But if you consider how unnatural it is for things to be preserved for that long (think food left out), you wonder what effects the “preservation” is doing internally.

    I would rather avoid it if I can, but if I can’t, I won’t be too fussed using something with parabens in it, as long as it is not in large quantities all the time :)

  12. Nunuiviet

    I think that people get too paranoid about it, and a lot of big brand names still use them in their products. The parabens are just everywhere from your skincare to your make up , there ‘s a lot of parabens in Mac products and people stills buy them, and also in purity made simple cleanser and people still say it’s one of the best and gentle face cleanser on the market, these are just a few examples… I don’t think that you can stop using them because then your products will not last at all , their shelf life would not be like 1 to 3 years…. And if you buy a very expensive face cream , you don’t want it to be spoilt right away. Lush fresh mask don’t last long , and I don’t think they’re better than any other mask that contains parabens. I have tries a lot of products that claims to be natural but they’re not that great and they made me break out, so to me PARABENS are not an issue at all.

    • tg

      Parabens in MAC makeup or skincare? I read all of the boxes on my MAC cosmetics (don’t use their skincare) and there is no paraben listed. They seem to use phenoxyethanol as their preservative.

      • Nunuiviet

        So what phenoxyethanol is also a preservative like parabens, I did not say that their skincare contains parabens, I was referring to other big skincare brands eg lancome, shiseido, philosophy etc… How can I say that MAC SKINCARE contains parabens, i’ve never used them! I only buy their makeup, so please just don’t misinterpret other people’ words…

  13. stephanie

    I try to watch them when I can. since they are in so many makeup products I try to limit them in other products, like skin care, moisturizers, and hair care. I am not 100% against them, but I like that there are products out there that don’t have them. I like those options. Bottom line for me is that research is going to tell you one thing, but how your body reacts is altogether different. I think it’s wise for product developers to offer some paraben free options when they can. Its good business sense since some people avoid them

  14. I never touched them while pregnant. And I do prefer products withput them, however like the other commenter said, some of my fave products do contain them.

  15. Vijaya

    I think the link you provided oversimplifies the situation with parabens by a LOT. Parabens mimic estrogen, and estrogen and other estrogenic chemicals help aggravate breast cancer risks. They also manage to accumulate in the body without being expelled. Parabens specifically are not conclusively linked to breast cancer, however saying there’s no reason to be concerned is a bit of a stretch.

    Also, the article says that “the risk is small,” without offering any evidence. As they pointed out earlier, there isn’t a conclusive study as of yet. We do not know the size of the risk, but that doesn’t make it small.

    I’m not saying “DON’T USE PARABEN PRODUCTS OR YOU’LL DIE OF CANCER,” (I use products with parabens myself) but for a site that touts itself as being “real scientists” answering your beauty questions, their answer isn’t scientific at all. It’s more along the lines of “this is what we believe because it seems to be true”: just like any other person on the internet. They don’t even give the full picture of WHY people think parabens are dangerous.

    I’d also like to add that these are apparently cosmetic scientists, and though some brands like to cash in on not having parabens, most do not because the sheer cost to the company at large would be greater. That they share the opinion of the industry at large is not surprising, but it is worth noting and considering.

    Wow, Christine, sorry for writing you an essay. xD

    • I’ve read more than that one article – but I find that article does a good job at summarizing in a way that is understandable without having a lot of scientific terms :)

      I personally trust them, as a long-time reader, so I don’t find that they are biased. I only provide links to websites that I read and trust – which is why I do not just link anybody.

      • Hilary

        Regardless of the parabens issue, thanks for the link, Christine. It’s really helpful and a good read.

      • Vijaya

        I do believe that YOU have read more than one article, but a lot of their readers will not have. They don’t have to NOT favor an opinion, but they can explain both sides fully before giving their opinion. They failed to do that, so they automatically fail as a reliable source of information for me. It’s not scientific terms I’m looking for, but evidence. Using evidence is a cornerstone of science (and of any debate, really), and they state two or three claims with none of their own.

        I hadn’t seen this site until you posted it, and since this morning I’ve read about twenty articles and found something wrong with quite a few of them.

        I just really don’t like thebeautybrains.com. I don’t believe their bloggers are reliable, journalistically responsible or scientifically responsible. If your opinion differs, I respect that completely, so I hope you didn’t take it any other way.

        • Do you have better resources? I would be happy to read others, though I personally haven’t found any major issues with their website or approach.

          • Gia

            Here are my links.
            http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20932229
            http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19101832
            I use PubMed all the time as a jumping off point when I am interested in something. I cannot believe I did not know about this site until Graduate school. I understand what Vijaya is saying about the sight, however, at least it really does apply real science into their article. I tend to only read science that are not straight from journals just to see what the general public is exposed to from 3rd source material and how it shapes their day to day opinions. You are more likely to get exposed to hormone disruptor in your daily environment. But, I am saying that last statement without a source (:) so don’t take it at the truth. I am a first year public health grad student at UCB. Love the site.

    • Carissa

      The FDA has done tons of studies on real women and has concluded that there is, and I quote- “parabens are safe for use in cosmetics”, and it also says that, based on the weight of all the current scientific evidence, “there is no reason for consumers to be concerned about the use of products containing parabens”. They are metabolized too rapidly in the body to give off any adverse effects.

  16. Avatar of Nella Sanella

    I try to avoid them as much as I can. All if my skin care I purchase from Whole Food Market, especially eye creams since the skin around this area is so thin and it absorbs everything instantly. As far as make up, I will not throw away what I already have that contains parabens, and I am very selective of what I buy that has parabens in it.

  17. Maisie

    I use makeup with parabens, however I don’t use skin care/deodorant/shampoo with parabens in them. I like to think that my cleanser and moisturizer and stuff like that has the most contact with my skin, so if parabens are an issue it won’t be that big of a deal for my skin care routines. I know there isn’t much of a case against them, but there’s so much controversy that there has to be something going on there… And I agree with Dawn, below, if you can make a good product without them, why do so many compaines not take them out of their products?

  18. Avatar of Jill AnGeLwInGz

    I’m indifferent about parabens and other controversial ingredients. Especially when it comes to shampoo,conditioner, and body wash, you’re just rinsing it off anyway.

  19. Ani_BEE

    I try to avoid them with my skin care products as much as possible. Cosmetics, its still unavoidable but I don’t wear liquid foundations every day compared to using a facial wash, Shampoo and lotions.

    I buy a mixing medium from The All Natural Face called Seal IT Eyeshadow/Eyeliner Sealant that uses Geogard® Ultra and Potassium Sorbate that makes is last just a long as other liquid product after you open it.

    What I’m more concerned about is the lack of ingredients listing under “Perfume” or “Fragrance”. There’s usual chemical carries in that ingredient that A) my skin hates and I can never track what it was down or B) Can muck up young adults with the artificial hormones.

  20. Promise

    I am definitely glad you brought this topic up. I have a lot of makeup that contains parabens, but I’m at the point right now where 99% of the time I will not buy a product that contains parabens, because I don’t want to take any chances. Also, other companies use different preservatives, why can’t all companies stop using parabens?

  21. Nayeli

    Parabens??? What are parabens?, lol. I never check for parabens in products, i don’t think that people would be really stupid to put something in makeup that can harm someone

    • Ani_BEE

      They don’t, but the measurement is at an acceptable level by the FDA standers per product.

      However they don’t need to taking into account how many other products you use per day that also has the same “acceptable level by the FDA” standards for you body to flush out. Chance are you getting an over does of parabens and there is no studies on how accumulative exposure effects the body.

      The one thing I can attest to is the lack of Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS ) in shampoos I use has reduced the amount of hair fall out. haha
      I’m fighting my inherited male patterned baldness this way from both sides of the family. In females it’s general hair lose, I lament how thin my mom hair has become.

    • AshleyD

      Not true. I used to think that. then I did a lot of research (for years.) companies often lie and put harmful things in products. examples – U.S. companies claim sunscreens have UVA protection when they really don’t, and also make sunscreesn that destabilize when exposed to light, which can actually be harmful to skin. They also put things like oxybenzone in sunscreens, which absorbs into organs and has a cancer risk. they put sulfates in cleansers and shampoos, knowing they are harmful to scalp and skin. they put alcohol in body lotions, knowing it will dry your skin out so you’ll have to reach for more lotion. in summary, a lot of these compannies are evil, just wanting to pull the wool over consumers’ eyes. :-(

  22. ERIKA

    i tried to avoid them but its so hard when a lot of products i love have them :(

  23. z

    I have been reading so much lately about parabens and petroleum. It’s scary. With that being said, there is so much polution in the air that can’t be avoided, so you may as well use what you like. My point being, the polution will cause cancer just as the products could. You only live once, so enjoy what you want!

  24. Avatar of Alannah Alannah

    I’m glad to see this question on here as it’s one I’ve been thinking about myself. It’s always a little scary when something like that comes out as potentially being very harmful… I know there’s no strong evidence now but you always have to wonder if down the line there will be. I try to avoid them if I can help it, but they’re really in just about everything as far as skin products & lotions go. I wish there were more products without them, to be honest!

  25. Heather

    Since I have super sensitive acne prone skin, I try to avoid them. I know theyre in a lot of products though, so as long as they’re near the end of the ingredient list I guess it’s not too bad.

  26. I have been exploring this question myself. I notice parabens when I purchase them now. But from what I’ve heard the study that was done that drew the connection between them and cancer wasn’t exactly done under the best of circumstances and is still debated.

    Probably better to be safe than sorry though.

  27. I prefer to buy products without them but It is not necessarily a deal breaker for me. I opt for more natural products but some products that I like to use contain parabens.

  28. Cristina

    I am not worriedat all by parabens. I was a chemical engineering intern at the Avon factory last may as part of my graduation project, and the first day I was there, my professional sponsor went through all the products made at the factory and their components. Almost all fo them included preservatives in the form of parabens. If they were preservative-free, they would grow mold and bacteria, just like the Master samples I saw in the microbiology lab. They definitely knew what they were dealing with, as the factory makes the Avon cosmetics for several countries in Latin America, and receives yearly check-ups from HQ representatives.

    I feel that most people are freaking out over something they don’t even understand, and are allowing other people, who are not experts in the subject, influence their opinions. I’m not saying I’m an expert either, but I do consider the head of the development department at Avon Latin America to be an expert…

  29. Marcela

    I don’t usually take such health claims about ingredients (food, cosmetics, etc) seriously unless I [personally] experience a reaction to them or there is overwhelming evidence they’re bad for you. Nowadays we live in an uber-paranoid society where things that were OK to use for the past 500 years are suddenly deathly poisonous. No proof, no worries.

  30. AshleyD

    I do my best to avoid them. some people say there is not enough evidence against them. well I say, there is not enough evidence to prove they are safe! they are very suspect – they mimic hormones (estrogen) in our bodies, can affect the development of fetuses for pregnant women (esp if the baby is a boy), and can be found in breat tumors. it makes sense they are in breat tumors, as they mimic estrogen. I think the reason the age of puberty in girls is decreasing is due to parabens – they are getting doses of estrogen in everything (shampoo, conditioner, soap, lotion, etc etc) their entire lives. I have given up some of my favorite products because they have parabens. there is just no reason for companies to use them other than they are lazy and cheap. it’s hard to completely get rid of them though, and I think it will be impossible to use none, but I try to reduce as much as I can.

    • Carissa

      The FDA has done tons of studies on real women and has concluded that there is, and I quote- “parabens are safe for use in cosmetics”, and it also says that, based on the weight of all the current scientific evidence, “there is no reason for consumers to be concerned about the use of products containing parabens”. They are metabolized too rapidly in the body to give off any adverse effects. Without parabens, things would go bad and become infested with mold. It’s not “lazy” to use parabens, parabens are present naturally in many fruits and vegetables, they are in everything from food to drinks to hard materials like plastics. They are no more dangerous than any other preservative used in this world today. If I were you, I’d be less concerned about getting breast cancer from my lipstick and more concerned about the potential growth of microbes festering in my moisturizer.

  31. Kat

    Honestly? I’ll obviously die of something eventually, but I really, really doubt that it’ll be because of my lipstick. Or my body wash, or any other beauty product. The amount of times I’ve heard it said “don’t eat/use that, it’ll give you cancer!” over the past few years is insane, so I’m just going to avoid the things that are definitely carcinogenic, like unprotected sun exposure and formaldehyde, and not worry about things like parabens, which are not proven to do anything harmful in approved quantities.

  32. Shirry

    I feel nervous when I use products with parabens in it!
    Always try my best to avoid products with parabens :)

  33. Hannah

    I never really thought about it much. I wouldn’t say i’d go out of my way to avoid them, but its nice to know that something controversial isn’t in my products.

    Anyways, i checked my shampoo, conditioner, moisturizer, sunscreen, deodorant, body wash, body scrub, and ALL of my millions of facial cleansers/scubs/masks and only two of them had parabens in them. And i don’t even use those products everyday :) so i’m not too worried.

  34. Avatar of Maja Maya

    I personally can’t use any skin products that contain parabens because they irritate my skin, and let me tell you that really narrows down the list of things you can use. The studies discussed don’t give a definite answer to whether or not they are safe. Personally, I think this needs to be researched further asap for the sole fact that these ingredients are in so many things we buy – we deserve to have real scientific support for one case or the other, not just a “controversial” study or something that people are still sitting here questioning!

  35. Voly

    As a Microbiologist I applaud anti-microbial substances in my makeup.
    Microbes are ubiquitous. Unless parabens cause problems to my skin (which they haven’t yet), I’m keeping them, as there is strong evidence that microbial toxins cause more harm then parabens.

  36. Lauren

    Amen, Christine, amen.

    As a scientist (majored in physics, minored in chemistry), I’m really annoyed by the anti-science bias that some “natural” companies have. There’s nothing wrong with an all natural product — I prefer anything that is better for the environment — but this anti-”chemical” (water is a chemical) BS is simply a scare tactic used by companies to make people use their products.

  37. Katie

    I can’t seem to find this answer anywhere. Not even my from multiple Doctors. I’m tired of taking a million tests and still having itchy, red bumpy sores all over.

    My allergy tests came back which said I was allergic to Paraben. Thing is, I found out it’s in my liquid makeup and whatnot BUT my face has never broken out.

    My body however has been breaking out drastically, arms, legs, torso..

    Question:
    Could paraben in makeup cause my BODY to break out over time? I’m been having this problem for over a year now and it makes me want to kill myself. Well not for real just makes me stressed because I always feel ugly! Plus summer is coming up… bikini season! ahh.

    Thanks.

    • AshD

      I think it’s likely you are using a product with parabens on your body – your soap/shower gel, or body lotion, or shave cream etc must have it. Or even your shampoo or conditioner. usually it will run down your back and even legs when in the shower. I don’t hink it’s likely that your foundation could make your body break out – though studies have shown that parabens absorb into the skin and are found in the body in other places a short while later. that said, I’m not sure it would make you break out…just check all your products. remember most personal care products have parabens, even soaps…

  38. Avatar of Nella Nella

    I just love how many people are quoting the ever corrupt and big-pharma owned FDA! FDA has approved how many drugs now that have killed the users. Just 30-40 years ago FDA said it was ok to smoke and that there is no danger. Problem is that it takes more then just a couple of years to form a cigarette caused cancer, it’s not an overnight process. Most, if not all, breast cancer victims have shown parabens in their breast tissue. If you think that parabens are safe add it to your food here and there so your food lasts longer.
    Btw, my friend’s mother passed away from breast cancer and they found parabens after performing a biopsy.

  39. YoitsSkittles

    Its better to be safe than sorry. Parabens are found in breast cancer – yes, they are a chemical and I’ve noticed alot of people all over the place say ‘water is a chemical as well’; water is NATURAL and not man-made. Do what pleases you. If you’re given the knowledge make good use of it. Personally I shall be staying well away from parabens.

  40. YoitsSkittles

    Also, parabens are known for screwing up and badly interfering wit your hormone levels. Since when does water have a negative effect?