You’ve probably seen the label “paraben-free” on your makeup packaging. Like other labels, for example, organic vs. natural makeup , the meaning behind the message is often unclear. What is paraben? Why it is used in makeup and cosmetics? Should you be worried about the presence of paraben in your favorite product?
Here, we pinpoint what paraben-free makeup really means…
Paraben -- Necessary Product Protection?
Although there are different kinds of parabens, they are generally grouped together and defined as chemicals used to preserve makeup products. Parabens help stop bacteria and mold from growing inside the container of your favorite cosmetics. This is important to consumer safety because certain bacteria can be very harmful.
You might find parabens listed on labeled ingredients as: butylparaben, ethylparaben, methylparaben, or propylparaben. Chances are you’ll find more than one on a single label because combining different parabens helps better preserve the product and provides stronger protection against bacteria.
All told, these preservatives keep your product safe for you to use and extend its shelf life, meaning it will last longer.
So, What’s the Problem?
Like so many relationships -- it’s complicated.
Currently, there isn’t enough research to prove the problem with parabens. So, Should People Be Concerned about Parabens in Beauty Products? Yes, if you ask the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics (CSC) which explains , “Of greatest concern is that parabens are known to disrupt hormone function, an effect that is linked to increased risk of breast cancer and reproductive toxicity.”
This begs the question: why aren’t parabens banned?
According to Teen Vogue, Why Parabens Could be Bad for You, “It all comes down to the fact that, while there are concerns, no research has been conclusive enough to convince the FDA to regulate the use of paraben.”
In fact, as the FDA explains, “Under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act), cosmetic products and ingredients, other than color additives, do not need FDA approval before they go on the market.”
Most brands continue to use parabens because, as Amanda Sipenock of Lush explains,
Parabens have been used for [many] years with a history of safe human use, which is
why we feel confident using them in some of our products in minimal amounts to keep them fresh. As a global brand, we must rely purely on empirical facts when making decisions around what ingredients to use or not use, and parabens are safe to use, according to the scientific community.
Ultimately, the choice to opt for paraben-free makeup products is a personal one. If you prefer to play it safe, check out this list of paraben-free cosmetics, ready to fill your FaceCase so you can be mobile and stay beautiful -- free from preservatives.