Parabens. Ever heard of them? Know what they are? No? You’re not alone. Parabens have recently come to light in the press in relation to cosmetic products. Parabens are essentially a type of preservative often used in makeup and skincare products to improve their shelf life. They are sometimes used in food products but the cosmetics industry is the biggest user of parabens globally and they aren’t good for your skin.

Parabens are used for their bactericidal and fungicidal properties which help stop the products from deteriorating and going off. They can be found in cosmetic products like shampoos, creams, deodorants, makeup, face wash, serums, fake tan and even toothpaste so it can be hard to avoid them.

The reason they have become so commonplace is most likely because they are effective and low cost in comparison to more natural preservatives like grapefruit seed extract which is relatively ineffective in comparison. However, these parabens can have serious effects on your skin and health so you might want to think twice before using a product full of them on your face or body.

Some people can have an allergy to parabens causing them to have skin irritation, contact dermatitis and or rosacea. These reactions can be quite common but you may not have realised that it was the parabens in your cosmetics that could be causing your irritated skin. If you are suffering from skin irritation or dermatitis then it is advisable to look more closely at the ingredients in all your beauty products and try using paraben free products instead.

There are however, more serious side effects that can occur when coming into contact with parabens. Following significant research a link between parabens and cancer has been highly focused on. There is not enough sufficient data to make a thorough conclusion on the matter but the presence of parabens in deodorant has given researchers cause for concern. It is not possible to say whether parabens cause tumours but they are certainly linked to the overall rise in breast cancer cases, according to UK biochemist Philippa Darbre. This research has fueled the popular belief that parabens used in underarm deodorants an

d razors can migrate towards the breast tissue and contribute to the growth of tumours. It is important to note however, that no casual link has been proven between parabens in deodorants and breast cancer and further research of combined parabens is needed.
The cosmetic industry believes that parabens are safe based on their long term use and safety record so far but organisations created for the public interest are raising awareness about cosmetic ingredients pushing them to be tested more thoroughly for links to serious side effects. All the recent concerns have led many cosmetic companies to find alternative, natural preservatives to give their products a longer shelf life. In conclusion, it really is better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your health and wellbeing, so sticking to natural products and paraben free creams and cosmetics is advised.