FIRST: Check this website! OMG! You will be amazed how many toxins are in our everyday beauty products!
The National Organic Program prohibits chemical preservatives in products that are labeled "organic." So what are chemical preservatives such as methyl, propyl, butyl and ethyl parabens doing in personal care products labeled "organic?"
There are many delightful organic foods that contain no preservatives. Read the labels on your organic honey, maple syrup, vinegar, olive oil, sugar, raisins, peanut butter and wine. These foods are considered by the FDA to be "self-preserving" and contain no preservatives. This means that, because of certain inherent qualities, these foods are naturally stable and not overly susceptible to contamination from bacteria.
Organic herbal medicinal tinctures made from high quality organic herbs and organic grain alcohol are shelf-stable for around two to three years. True castile soap, liquid or bars, has an excellent shelf-life of up to eighteen months or longer and requires no preservatives. Wouldn´t you prefer body care products that are fresh (like the food you eat) rather than several years old?
A self-preserved 100% organic moisturizing body oil made from organic sunflower oil, organic cocoa butter, organic coconut oil, organic peppermint oil and organic spearmint oil can have a shelf-life of up to 18 months. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in their report "Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products in the Environment: Agents of Subtle Change?" reported that the chemical preservatives called parabens—methyl, propyl, butyl and ethyl (alkyl-p-hydroxybenzoates)—displayed estrogenic activity in several tests. This means that these chemicals mimic your body´s own hormones and can have endocrine-disrupting action when they are rubbed into your body or washed down the drain into your drinking water. These disruptors interfere with your body´s endocrine system: your hypothalamus, your ovaries, your thyroid—virtually every system in your body. The EPA also stated that "continual introduction of these benzoates (parabens) into sewage treatment systems and directly to recreational waters from the skin leads to the question of risk to aquatic organisms." Scientists in Europe found other endocrine-disrupting body care chemicals in the bodies of fish that humans are eating, and in human breast milk.
Dr. Elizabeth Smith has written that "It is a known medical fact that estrogen stimulates breast cancer" and that "anything absorbed through the skin may be as high as 10 times the concentration of an oral dose." (Think about how nicotine and birth control/hormone patches work—the chemicals are absorbed through the skin!) She also reported that, in one study, a paraben was injected under the skin and was found to have an "estrogenic response on uterine tissues." Scientists observing these harmful effects on the uterus remarked that "it is suggested that the safety in use of these chemicals should be reassessed."
Endocrine disruptors are transported into the body, daily, via absorption through the skin and hair follicles when using personal care products. Now that we know that we absorb toxins through our skin, isn´t it important that body care products that claim to be organic should be as pure as the organic foods that we eat?
Is your paraben habit making you fat?
The Bite: We interrupt our regular easy-breezy style to bring you this important nugget o’ knowledge: Parabens are synthetic preservatives found in shampoos, make-up foundations, shaving gels and even food. They have a chemical structure similar to estrogen that interferes with production of the body’s natural hormones - potentially leading to weight gain (and more importantly, containing potential links to cancer). So, look for products that don’t contain any parabens - methyl, propyl or butyl - to ward off the pounds and other health risks.
The Benefits: Shed some pounds. We wish we could back that up with personal experience, but until then, we defer to the studies.
Protect yourself and the environment from cancer-causing components. Products containing parabens and other dangerous chemicals are often flushed into our water systems after use, spreading even to the people who are avoiding them.
Preserve your looks naturally. Buy self-preserving organic products like moisturizing body oils made from organic cocoa butter, sunflower oils, peppermint oil, coconut oil, and organic spearmint oil. They stay preserved naturally for up to 18 months.
Personally Speaking: Go grab a bottle from your bathroom and scan the ingredients. You’ll be shocked how many contain parabens. We’re working to phase out paraben products with each new replacement purchase, and hope to be totally paraben-free by the end of 2006.
Wanna Try: Try products with natural preservatives: Dr. Hauschka’s Quince Body Moisturizer - natural plant oils and herb extracts ($33).
Max Green Alchemy’s Scalp Rescue Shampoo and Conditioner - helps with sensitive, flakey or dehydrated scalps using Lemon Tee Tree, Lavender, and rosemary ingredients, and works great if you are just looking for some clean hair with some good body ($14).
Terressentials Skin Care Sampler - dabble in some flower-therapy with a parabens-free cleanser, toner, lotion, and cream ($10).
Best way to shift to paraben-free products? Read labels before buying, and conduct product research at SkinDeep.
You may have heard about how you should avoid parabens in the products you buy, but you might be wondering why you should do so. After doing a bunch of research a couple of years ago, my wife and I decided to no longer purchase any products that have parabens in them. First, let’s look at where you might find parabens and what products they are normally in.Parabens can be found in shampoos, commercial moisturizers, shaving gels, cleansing gels, personal lubricants, topical pharmaceuticals and toothpaste. They are also used as food additives in some products. Basically, a huge percentage of the products you buy for everyday use contain some form of paraben, so it can be difficult to find products that do not use them.
Now, before anyone says anything, I know that there have been studies on both sides of the argument…parabens are bad and parabens are ok. But since there have been studies that say that it is not healthy, we have chosen to take the precautionary route and not use products containing them. Whether or not they are as bad as some say they are, I would rather err on the side of safety. Now, on to what parabens could be doing to your body.
For starters, Parabens can mimic the hormone estrogen, which is known to play a role in the development of breast cancers. Do you really want to take the chance that they might do so? I know my wife doesn’t. In the July 2002 issue of the Archives of Toxicology , Dr. S. Oishi of the Department of Toxicology, Tokyo Metropolitan Research Laboratory of Public Health reported that exposure of newborn male mammals to butylparaben “adversely affects the secretion of testosterone and the function of the male reproductive system.” If that is not enough to avoid a product that can easily be avoided, I don’t know what is! There are a lot of other reports available all over the internet, but most of them are all related to reproductive health in some way or another. Not really something to mess with, huh?
The jury is still out on how and why parabens might affect development and growth of both babies and adults. But we have decided to get rid of any products that have it and replace them with products that don’t. There is no harm being careful with this kind of stuff…remember, things that were deemed safe in the past then came back to bite us all when we were told that they actually caused all sorts of diseases. And when they are safe alternatives available, I would rather not take the chance that my children develop strange reproductive problems or that my wife gets breast cancer from using a product that was avoidable in the first place.