The Dangers Of Parabens In Shampoos And Cosmetics Explained 2018

Published on Mar 18, 2018 in Uncategorized

I’m quite sure we all encountered them at some point in our lives – you may even be wearing them right now. They’re toxic and harmful to our systems and our skin. They’re a threat to our existence and to the environment and if we don’t do something about them sooner or later, we’ll be dealing with the consequences.

For those of you wondering – no, I’m not referring to terrorists, illegal immigrants or even the terribly dangerous emissions released from our cars or cattle. No, I’m referring to something far more subtle and sinister than that – parabens! But now you may be even more perplexed. What are parabens, what are they used for and how are they bad for us?

I’ll be explaining that a little more in-depth further in the article, but it’s important for us to remember that parabens are more likely to be an ingredient in a toxic mixture that is your foundation, blush, eyeliner or lipstick to name a few. While addressing the harms and dangers of parabens, and outlining why and how to avoid them, it’s important for me to stress that they aren’t the sole cause of health issues that can be found in our makeup. More research should be done to ascertain a better understanding of what’s actually in the makeup we wear and what effects those ingredients have on our health.

What Are Parabens?


What Are Parabens?

Parabens have long been a key ingredient in the beauty industry, as they are highly effective and are low-cost preservatives. They prevent bacteria and fungi from growing in many different products, keeping them usable for months or years. Unfortunately, these chemicals also pose a few potential health risks that make them something you definitely want to avoid.

Parabens are most common in products that contain significant amounts of water such as lotions, shampoos, conditioners, and facial and shower cleansers and scrubs because they discourage the growth of microbes.

Parabens are not water soluble and can penetrate the skin. As a result, repeated application of a product or multiple products containing parabens could mean almost continuous exposure. These endocrine-disrupting chemicals can be absorbed through skin, blood and the digestive system. Parabens mimic estrogen which disrupt normal hormone function.

These preservatives affect your body in many different ways, usually in the form of skin problems. People with sensitive skin find that products containing paraben can cause dermatitis and allergic reactions. Most worryingly, however, a British study has linked Parabens to breast cancer. There is still some debate whether it truly increases the risks, but why would you take the chance?

Why Are Parabens Bad for You?

chemicals in shampoo

Parabens In Shampoo

Chemical exposure is among the leading causes of common cases of chronic disease in America. Parabens (as previously mentioned), commonly used as a preservative in personal care products, in particular, are known for interfering with hormone function, which can lead to breast cancer.

  • DEA (diethanolamine) and DEA compounds, used in creamy and foaming products like shampoos and conditioners, can react in the body to form cancer-inducing nitrosamines.
  • DBP (Dibutyl Phthalate), an ingredient in nail products as well as hairsprays, has been proven to interfere with hormone function.
  • BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) and BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene), commonly found in most kinds of cosmetics products, have also been linked to cancer and hormone interference.

Basically, beyond merely preserving the ingredients of your personal products, parabens actively build up in your system and wreak havoc by creating an excess of free radicals (that your body may find hard to deal with) as well as by disrupting your hormonal balances, leading to often serious degenerative health problems or recurring issues. It can even affect your mental well-being.

More so, all of these previous chemicals in cosmetics have been listed have been proven to be harmful to wildlife and fish – you aren’t only putting yourself at risk by using chemical-laced products, but the environment as well.

List of Parabens Breakdown

the danger of parabens

Dangerous Parabens

Firstly, it’s important to note that parabens are esters of para-hydroxybenzoic acid which is a derivative of monohydroxybenzoic acid which is in-turn a derivative of benzoic acid. So it’s a bit easier for you to see just how processed this chemical is in actuality and why it’s easy for it be seen as being so harmful to our body’s. It’s also worth noting that all parabens are derived from the same original chemical, yet are not the same final product- this results in a variety of parabens for industrial uses rather than the idea of this 1 chemical that’s wreaking all this havoc.

The suffix of the term generally gives you a good indication of what the paraben was derived into and should also give you a good idea of what kind of effects you’re likely to experience with consistent use, but in general – they’re all quite similar.

Methylparaben (E218)

This is a methyl-based ester of para-hydroxybenzoic acid and also happens to occur in nature as a pheromone in a variety of insects and even in some plants. It is commonly used for its antibacterial purposes and as a preservative in certain food or personal products.

Ethylparaben (E218)

This is an ethyl-based ester of para-hydroxybenzoic acid and is frequently used in salt form as a preservative for a variety of food products in which case it uses the number E215. It’s one of the more common forms of parabens in terms of food products.

Propylparaben (E216)

This is the n-propyl-based ester of para-hydroxybenzoic acid and is commonly manufactured for use in cosmetics, pharmaceutical and personal care products such as creams, lotions, shampoos and bath products to name a few. It also occurs as a natural substance in certain plants or insects, but as a pheromone.

Butylparaben (E209)

This is the butyl-based ester of para-hydroxybenzoic acid and is largely considered one of the most used antibacterial or antifungal agent in most cosmetics or personal care products. Like the other parabens, it is said to disrupt the hormones within our body and can ultimately lead to some serious diseases or disorders.

Heptylparaben (E209)

This is the heptyl-based ester of para-hydroxybenzoic acid and is generally used in food products as a preservative and antibacterial agent.

Top 5 Paraben Free Companies Breakdown

burt's bees paraben free

Burt’s Bees Logo

Burt’s Bees

This brand has been around for quite some time, at least as far as eco-friendly brands go, and 30 years haven’t done much to affect this brand’s amazing product line.

The brand has extended its range to include lip balms, body, face, feet and hair products and all of them are completely free of parabens, phthalates, petrolatum and SLS.

Every product is based on honey and beeswax, so while Burt’s Bees may be an eco-friendly brand that doesn’t test their products on animals or sell to countries that require them to do so, they cannot be called a vegan-friendly brand.

Other than that – this is almost always my ‘go-to’ when I’m looking for chemical products and definitely one I would recommend to you.

Juice Beauty

While I’ll admit that this isn’t always my ‘go-to’ brand (that’s reserved for Burts Bees at the moment), it is a favorite and one I always look for when I’m out shopping – especially their moisturizers.

As far as chemical-free, ethical brands go, Juice Beauty has one of the widest ranges out there today.

However, I would generally recommend that you use them only if you tend to have a drier skin type – or use them sparingly if you have an oily or combination skin type, simply because the rich natural ingredients tend to cause skin to become a little oilier over time. This may lead to blocked pores or an uneven complexion. So best to be careful!

Swiss Clinical

This isn’t one of the most popular brands out there (or at least, from what I’ve found so far) but it definitely is a well-rounded compromise for people who want chemical-free skincare products.

They’re not a huge brand and they’re Swiss, so as you can imagine – they’re quite expensive. But every drop of a SwissClinical product is worth it’s weight in gold.

This stuff is so good, it’s like vitamin supplements for your skin. Not only do they help to tackle the issue at hand (like excess oil control, spot control, exfoliation or whitening), but it actively helps to nourish and revitalize your skin from within.

This will ensure better results over time with continued use, rather than the breakouts and dry skin issues you’re likely to get from using chemical-rich products.

Morrocco Method

Okay, so this is a brand that you’re more likely to have heard of at some point in time if you’re interested in organic personal products at all. Morrocco Method is definitely one of the best makeup, cosmetics and skincare brands out there not to mention being one of the healthiest.

Their attention to detail when it comes to ingredient purity is almost unmatched at this point – so you’re definitely likely to be in for an all-natural treat when you choose the Morrocco Method. Every product is made from 100% raw ingredients, is vegan and gluten-free! How often do you find that in a supermarket?

They have a wide range of entirely chemical-free shampoos and conditioners as well as a styling gel and a moisturizer. Definitely, a worthwhile brand to invest in if you’re looking for the best natural products to treat your hair with today!

CV Skinlabs

This brand is great for people with highly sensitive skin types and is perfectly suited to either oily or drier complexions. The range focuses on skincare products but also caters for facial creams and lotions.

The ingredients lists are simple and to the point – but most importantly, 100% chemical free! I personally prefer using their moisturizer in small doses over time and find that it works wonders on my skin, leaving it soft and supple yet never to dry or too oily.

A well-balanced line created from good ingredients with a reasonable price-tag. They’re perfect to take with you on trips abroad where the temperature might change often.


Ultimately, it’s our responsibility to ensure that we know which chemicals or ingredients are contained within the products that we use on a daily basis. However, it’s understandable for us to be a little confused once we realize just how complicated so many of these chemicals and their effects actually are.

So what are we to do in an age that seems to have become so fast-paced, only computers can keep up with the changes? My answer is to step back and take a look at the bigger picture. To understand that ‘we are what we eat’ also applies to ‘what we wear on our skin’ means understanding that ingredients are just as important as results.

By cutting out as many of the harmful chemicals found in the various products we use on a regular basis, or simply cutting them out altogether, we can allow our bodies to heal themselves more naturally as well as give them the nutrients, minerals and vitamins they need to better themselves rather than relying on toxic chemicals to do a shoddy cover-up job at best and only worsen the problem more.

Check out our DIY Hydrosol Recipe & Guide and Hydroquinone feature while you’re here at Maple Holistics!