One of our original Goat Milk Stuff soaps was one we called "Pink Sugary". It was very popular and a dupe of the Victoria Secret scent "Pink Sugar". It smelled something like vanilla on steroids.
Two years ago, we got a notice from the supplier that the scent now contained parabens. We immediately discontinued using the Pink Sugary scent even though it was loved by many. We discontinued it because at Goat Milk Stuff, we are committed to being a paraben-free company.
Chances are, even if you’re not entirely sure what they are, you’ve heard parabens mentioned at least a few times. As our knowledge of chemistry and how it affects the human body evolves, we’re discovering more and more ingredients that many people routinely use that are bad for us. Parabens are one of those ingredients.
However, while you might be familiar with the word, there’s a good chance you are still wondering - "What is a paraben? And why are parabens bad for my skin, hair, body, and overall health?"
You might even be wondering if it’s worth the effort to switch to paraben free products. Especially since most of the stuff you find when you’re shopping for groceries probably have at least a few parabens in them.
Should you shop somewhere else? Spend more time reading product labels? Do something else to protect you from potentially harmful chemicals?
Read on and find out everything you need to know about parabens, so you can make informed choices and have healthier skin and hair.
What Are Parabens?
The first thing you need to understand, when it comes to answering the question of why parabens are bad for your skin, hair, and body, is what parabens actually are.
Simply put, parabens are a preservative designed to keep a product safe from unwanted bacterial or fungal growth.
Preservatives can be broken up into two subsets - naturally occurring or synthetic. Natural preservatives - like salt, citric acid from lemon juice, sugar - occur in nature and are mostly harmless for humans (especially in small quantities).
Other preservatives are classified as synthetic or artificial. Parabens would be classified this way. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG):
Parabens are a group of chemicals widely used as artificial preservatives in cosmetic and body care products since the 1920s. Since cosmetics contain ingredients that can biodegrade, these chemicals are added to prevent and reduce the growth of harmful bacteria and mold, increasing the shelf life of the product.
Parabens have antimicrobial properties and they help prevent bacteria and fungi from forming. Because of this, they are used regularly in many commercial products including both leave-on and rinse-off products.
They are especially effective if the product has a high water content such as shampoo, conditioner, and liquid lotions. But they're found in many other body care products as well as in fragrances. Parabens also can rarely exist in nature, but are mostly man-made.
I also found it interesting (scary) that parabens are also used as preservatives in food. According to Chemical Safety Facts:
Typical food products which contain parabens for preservation, include beer, sauces, desserts, soft drinks, jams, pickles, frozen dairy products, processed vegetables and flavoring syrups.
Why Are Parabens Bad for Your Skin, Hair, and Body?
Like many advances in science and chemistry, early chemists focused more on the effects of their inventions on products. The scientists developing products were not focusing on how their inventions could impact people's health. They just wanted to make "better" products at lower costs.
For a long time, we simply didn’t know that parabens could be bad for us. But we're starting to wake up and discover the dangers. According to the Environmental Working Group:
The concern with these chemicals is that scientific studies suggest that parabens can disrupt hormones in the body and harm fertility and reproductive organs, affect birth outcomes, and increase the risk of cancer. They can also cause skin irritation. Moreover, studies have detected parabens in nearly all urine samples taken from adults in the U.S., regardless of demographic (Ye 2006).
Parabens are also linked to ecological harm, as low levels of butylparaben can kill coral, according to laboratory tests (Danaovaro 2008). Parabens have been detected in surface waters, fish and sediments (Haman 2015). When parabens are combined with chlorinated tap water, a number of chlorinated paraben byproducts can form (Canosa 2006). Little is known about the toxicity of these byproducts, which may be more persistent (Haman 2015).
This is scary stuff!
What Are the Common Names Used for Parabens?
Parabens are a type of preservative – not a single compound. So even if you look on the labels of the products you use, they might not be a named ingredient. In fact, they often hide in plain sight, listed as one of the following:
- Isobutyl parabens
- Isopropyl parabens
- Para hydroxybenzoates
As you can see, if you’re not looking for a lot of different long, complicated names, it’s easy to miss the fact that your products include parabens at all. Parabens are also often included in fragrances. So if your product just lists "fragrance" it may be hiding parabens in that fragrance category.
Where Are Parabens Commonly Found?
One of the problems with parabens, at least from a health perspective, is that they do their job very efficiently. They might not be good for us, but they’re very good at preserving products.
They’re also relatively cheap to produce. This makes them perfect for commercial products that are trying to decrease costs and are not asking “are parabens safe for your skin, hair and body?” when they formulate their products.
Parabens are usually used to preserve products such as:
- Face and skin cleaners
- Shaving gels
Parabens are everywhere. You only need to look at the personal care product shelves of your local supermarket to find a long list of paraben packed items.
What Are Possible Paraben Health Effects?
While we know that parabens are probably not good for humans, there are still ongoing studies about just how bad they are. However, many studies have already proven some very scary effects. According to the Environmental Working Group and Verywell Health, parabens can have some serious, detrimental effects on our health. Possible health effects are:
- Parabens may have an effect on hormones, particularly the hormone estrogen in the body.
- Parabens may have an effect on male and female fertility and reproduction.
- Parabens have been linked to a higher incidence of certain kinds of cancers, including breast cancer.
- Parabens might affect the endocrine system, which regulates hormone production and is central to many diseases, including diabetes – and they might trigger or worsen high blood sugar.
- Parabens have been found to cause or worsen skin conditions like dermatitis.
- Some people might experience changes in brain function.
- Some people might experience changes in thyroid function.
- Parabens might have some part in obesity.
The FDA still says that parabens are safe. But with so many potentially dangerous and even life threatening conditions linked to parabens, more studies clearly need to be done. More people need to be asking and investigating just how bad parabens are for your skin, hair, and body.
Until that does happen, you can be proactive and choose better products on your own. Parabens are not a necessary ingredient for healthy, quality skincare.
Why are Parabens Bad for Your Hair?
According to hair transplant surgeon Dr. Derkan Aygin:
Parabens are associated with hair loss because they are easily absorbed through your skin and are harmful to your scalp. Parabens can cause a number of problems for your hair including drying, irritating your scalp, fading your color, and even hair loss.
In short, parabens are one of the worst things you can do to your hair.
The more you use products that contain parabens, the more you are likely to see some or all of these effects. The biggest problem is that when many people start to notice these things, they are more likely to try more products – and keep adding more and more harmful chemicals into their routines.
The only way to undo and start to repair the damage caused by parabens is to remove parabens from your hair care products. Until you do, no amount of expensive lotions, potions and treatments will help.
Goat Milk Stuff Shampoos do not use any parabens or other unnatural ingredients. They are a great choice for healthy hair care.
"Best shampoo soap I have ever used! Lathers nicely and never leaves my hair feeling dry." - Brenda S.
Why are Parabens Bad for Your Skin?
You would think that products that are designed to be used on your skin would be beneficial to your skin health – but that’s not the case when it comes to parabens.
Many people find that when they use skin products that contain ingredients like parabens, they might have allergic reactions like hives, or develop various kinds of dermatitis. Many people might also find that parabens either dry out their skin or on the flip-side cause excessive oil, which results in conditions like acne.
Again, the problem is that when these things do occur, many people look for more products to solve the problem, and in doing so, they can actually make it worse.
Why Goat Milk Stuff Avoids Parabens
We made a promise when we began Goat Milk Stuff - we would never make products for sale that we would not use on our own skin.
We would never intentionally use parabens ourselves - and we will not use them in any of the products we make.
Our shampoo bars are paraben free.
Our soaps are paraben free.
Our lotions are paraben free.
ALL of our products are paraben free.
While the science is not definitive and we don’t know exactly how bad parabens are for people, we do know enough to know they’re certainly not healthy.
We don't consider there to be a "safe level" of paraben usage. The safest option for our skin and yours - is to have a zero paraben tolerance. We believe in promoting a healthier lifestyle, and the best way to do that is to make products that are naturally healthy.
Less Is More
We definitely don’t know everything we can do to help to keep our skin, hair, and bodies as healthy as possible. There’s a long way to go before we unlock all those secrets.
But we do know that when it comes to products we use, less is usually more. Simpler products with more natural and unrefined ingredients are usually better for our health and our appearance.
So, if you’ve noticed negative effects on your hair and skin from the products you use now, it might be time to take some stuff away, rather than adding more.
All Natural Soaps for a Healthier Lifestyle
Goat Milk Stuff has been making handmade soaps without these harmful chemicals for over a decade. We haven’t had to reformulate our products to take harmful ingredients like parabens out of them, because those ingredients were never included to begin with.
Because we don't make the scents we use ourselves, we monitor them very closely to make sure that they always remain paraben free. We were willing to discontinue a popular product link Pink Sugary. We won't hesitate to make those decisions when health and safety is the issue.
Our ingredients are all easy to recognize and understand. You won't ever have to try to translate and interpret the ingredients. And you won’t have to search store shelves just to make better choices. Because when you can read and understand the list of ingredients in your products, you’re probably dealing with a product that is good for you.
Everything we make is simple, natural, and healthy stuff that works well and is good for you. We've never been tempted to use artificial or chemical preservatives such as parabens. They are a risky ingredient we do not need to use.
Soap itself will get better as it ages and does not need any chemical preservatives. And unlike many of our competitors, we do not make a liquid goat milk lotion which requires chemical preservatives to be safe. Instead we make a Solid Goat Milk Lotion that does not need any chemical preservatives.
At Goat Milk Stuff, our purpose is to raise happy goats that make healthy milk and to bring you joy through the goodness of goat milk. We know that healthy skin is happy skin and we want to enable you to find the joy that healthy skin can bring. Goat Milk Stuff can be trusted to never use parabens and to only use ingredients that are safe for your skin, hair, and body!