Do you ever wonder why products are advertising that they're paraben free? What are parabens? Why do you care? In a nutshell, parabens mimic the effects of estrogen, and extra estrogen leads to excess fat storage. For girls, this means excess weight around your stomach, lower butt, upper thighs and back of the upper arms. For guys, this means fat storage in the stomach and chest. So how do you avoid these things? I'll spell it out. But first, if you don't know what parabens are, here's the gist. 

Nina Bukovec

What are they and why are they used?

Parabens are preservatives, used to prevent excess bacteria and increase the shelf life of products. When used in beauty products, parabens are applied directly to the skin, absorbed, and enter directly into the blood stream and body organs. That’s right, I said blood stream and body organs. Unfortunately for us girls, parabens are the most commonly used preservative in cosmetics, living in approximately 75 to 90 percent of products. They are also used in shampoo, soap, makeup wipes, perfume, toothpaste, deodorant and body lotion to name just a few.

Facts on Facts

If that isn’t enough to convince you to remove paraben-filled products from your daily routine, know that parabens also increase acne, promote skin ageing, diminish muscle mass and have been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer. A note to the male readers, parabens also can increase male breast growth and interfere with male reproductive functions.

Nina Bukovec

How do you check if a product has parabens in it?

This may seem very self-explanatory but, parabens are not often listed on the ingredients list as just strictly parabens. They have many derivatives, meaning you will commonly see words such as methylparaben, propylparaben and ethylparaben to name a few. The prefix can be many different words, but the suffix will always be paraben and you must watch out for all types equally. As well, you will often find these ingredients listed near the end of the list because they are present in low concentrations. Luckily, if a product is paraben free, most companies will advertise this on the front label. Who would’ve thought you should read the ingredients on your lipstick?

Key caution: Just because a company says they are organic or all natural does not necessarily mean they are paraben free.

Nina Bukovec

Paraben-free Cosmetics Lines

If you’re like me, you are currently freaking out thinking that every product is full of these chemicals so how can you possibly avoid them?? Thankfully, as common as parabens are, many brands have become aware of the downsides and risks that accompany paraben use and have decided to go paraben free. To name a few cosmetics lines that are paraben free, use Tarte, BareMinerals, Urban Decay or Makeup Forever.

Tip: On Sephora’s website, under details, there is a “This product is formulated without” section. If the product is paraben free, this section will be present and it will be listed here.

Warning: Just because one product is paraben free, does not mean every product made by that brand or company is paraben free. This is very common. For example, The Body Shop and L’Oréal are offenders.

Nina Bukovec

The Truth

When you think about Kiehl’s, Clinique, Aveeno, Bobby Brown or Lush you think of words like natural, clean, vegan, organic and cruelty-free. Yet, they continue to use parabens as a preservative. How can a brand's claim to fame be how it doesn’t harm animals or how clean it is when it continues to use a chemical that is known for its harmful effects on humans?

We can all be hopeful for a paraben free future. But for now, discard your paraben infested products and befriend the ingredients list.