What are Parabens?

In 2017, the makeup culture has become more prominent than ever. With contouring sticks, highlighting powders, magic concealers to a myriad of foundations, women who have a penchant for makeup are in no shortage when it comes to a variety of cosmetic products. But as with most beauty products, most cosmetics have a shelf-life and are likely to breed to bacteria due to prolonged use. To address this, many cosmetic companies have started incorporating parabens into their beauty products to preserve them and prevent bacteria growth.

Parabens have been widely used since its advent in the 1950’s. In fact, most cosmetic products contain them. However, it is not until recently that the cosmetic ingredient has garnered so much criticism and vilification. While they have a long history of safe use, new preservatives are not yet proven to have the same track record—especially when more than one form of the ingredient is used in a product. Some of the most common paraben products are propylparaben, methylparaben, and butylparaben. In the nineties, it has been found that parabens have agents that mimic estrogen in the body and 2004, it was associated with malignant breast tumors which gave the cosmetic ingredient a bad reputation.

However, while parabens have been linked to a strain of cancer, it has also been shown that the presence of parabens in tumors does not prove that it was the primary cause of the cancer which renders the study moot. Considering that there is no concrete scientific evidence to support the link between parabens and any form of cancer, it would be unfair to dismiss products with this cosmetic agent as unsafe. However, it would bode you well to be cautious and mindful. If you want to play safe, you can opt for cosmetic products that are paraben free or those that use oil-based products that do not contain water (as the usage of water necessitates a preservative). Alternatively, you can also use products that use parabens in limited quality.