Parabens – Myth and fact

Well a controversial group of chemicals for sure, but I wanted to explain a little about these chemicals and why they are used so people are better informed in this tricky area, for sure people know now that Parabens aren’t necessarily good, but why….

To understand the why you need to understand the what.
Parabens are compounds which in the main are synthetically produced using… are you ready for this the Kolbe Schmitt reaction (WOW Sounds like science fiction). This process produces para-Hydroxybenzoic acid and hey presto you got Parabens on an industrial scale.

The efficacy of Parabens and their low cost manufacturing process has resulted in the common use of this chemical as a preservative over many years.
Parabens can be produced in nature for example by the humble Blueberry but the source of confusion and concern really emanates from its [the synthetic version] ability to “mimic” estrogen, a hormone known to play a role in the development of breast cancers and can in people with allergies irritate and sensitize skin. Interestingly studies have proved as yet inconclusive in linking Parabens to Breast cancers and more work is needed to provide real evidential based fact before we can say for sure that there is a link.

Interestingly some Parabens when exposed to UVB may react to cause increased skin aging and DNA damage, an oxymoron given the intended cosmetic benefit.

So I think the choice is as ever individual, they are seen as safe and used in the wider cosmetic industry and studies suggest the harm is minimal outside of people with allergies, but if you really don’t feel the need to add another synthetic chemical compound on your skin then hunting out Natural Skincare products may be a way for you to reduce the daily regime of manmade chemicals and derivatives being put on your skin, added to your food and in the treatment and manufacture of the clothes/textiles that you wear.

Source material can be found widely on the web and from libraries and I take this and our own working knowledge of the industry as a basis for this article.


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