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To Paraben or to not to Paraben, That Is The Question?

Exploring the dangers of Parabens in makeup products
Courtesy of Britannica

Whether you throw on some mascara before you run out the door or you put on full-stage makeup for a musical; makeup is very widely used among many people. Makeup is used to enhance natural features and it is also used as an artistic expression. Makeup is very versatile and many women use it daily. In an article from it states, “41% of consumers, age 30-59 in the US, report wearing makeup on a daily basis”. 

Have you ever wondered what keeps your favorite makeup products from going bad?  Chemicals called Parabens fight off bacteria and fungi to protect these products. Parabens were added to many cosmetics in the 1950s. Parabens are used because they are cheap to mass produce and they make makeup’s shelf life longer. But recent studies show that Parabens may not be good for us.

 Parabens, unlike other chemicals in makeup, absorb into our skin and remain in our body’s tissues. It has been shown that Parabens could lead to cancer formation. This article by states that “A British study found 19 out of 20 women studied had parabens in their breast tissue”. Not only are Parabens harmful to us but they are also bad for the environment. They are harmful to marine life and can cause damage to or kill coral. 

This brings up the question of why the US hasn’t banned Parabens from makeup. The European Union has banned Paraben use in makeup. The reason they haven’t been banned in the US is because a very low percentage of Parabens are actually used in makeup. They make up less than one percent of chemicals in makeup and work even in very small amounts.

New studies show that Paraben-free products may not be better than products with Parabens. Some Paraben-free products have different preservatives that may be potentially worse than Parabens. These new chemicals are less tested and not as much information is known about them. On the other hand, some studies stress that Parabens are essential for makeup because natural preservatives don’t keep out as many microbes. They also save consumers money because they don’t have to replace their cosmetics as much. 

In conclusion, many scientists would say to pick makeup products that don’t have Parabens. They would also say to look at the ingredients in the makeup you are buying. Look for natural ingredients. Another way to keep your makeup from going bad is to replace it when the shelf life is done. Even though Parabens save money, it is better to use natural products than ingredients that were made in a lab.

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