The debate between natural preservatives versus chemical preservatives has only intensified in the past few years, as more and more studies have shown that parabens, chemical preservatives used widely in most mass beauty products to prevent the growth of bacteria, are indeed absorbed by the body and often found in tumors related to breast cancer in women. Dr. Philippa Darbre, a research scientist at the University of Reading in the UK, first published an innovative small study in 2004, and this year recently followed it up with another larger study that duplicated the same results. Perhaps most alarming of all, is that Dr. Darbe discovered that parabens have the potential to be carcinogenic, meaning that they change healthy cells into cancer cells, in a second study that was published later this year.
How do we know that we are not ingesting these chemicals through our food? The parabens found in the tissue in each study have been mostly intact, which means that they were not processed by the liver, but absorbed through the skin.
However, many mass beauty companies still use parabens since natural preservatives don’t allow products the same shelf life and popular ingredients found in eco-friendly and mainstream products including plant extracts, antioxidants and vitamin C are vulnerable to heat and sunlight. Natural products have shorter life spans, requiring that consumers use them up quickly or pitch them into the garbage once they are past their prime – not ideal for consumers.
What’s the bottom line? Before you purchase your next body lotion, face moisturizer or shampoo/conditioner combination, think carefully about what you’re putting on your skin, and don’t forget to check the ingredients for those pesky parabens.