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Paraben Free Makeup: What Goes on Your Skin Matters


If you’ve shopped the makeup aisle recently, or if you keep up with a favorite beauty blog, you’ve probably seen the phrase “paraben free makeup” used. If you aren’t familiar with parabens and their use in beauty products, you might have some questions. Some common questions include: what are parabens? Are they bad? Do I need paraben free makeup? If so, why? And where is paraben free makeup available?

Luckily, there are answers to all of your questions about paraben free makeup (and the entire world of paraben free beauty products). We’ll cover the basics of what paraben free makeup is and why you might want to use it below.

What Are Parabens?

The FDA defines parabens as “a family of related chemicals that are commonly used as preservatives in cosmetic products. Preservatives may be used in cosmetics to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria and mold, in order to protect both the products and consumers.”

Methylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, and ethylparaben are the most commonly used parabens, and they are often used in combination with each other. When parabens are used together, they can often work harder to fight against microorganisms.

Are Parabens Only Found in Makeup?

The cosmetic aisle is full of parabens, and not just in your makeup. Parabens can be found in makeup, hair and shaving products, moisturizers, sunscreen, face care products, some deodorants, and more. You can always find out if a product that you’re considering purchasing contains parabens. By law, parabens must be listed, so search the product tag for methylparaben, propylparaben, Butylparaben, and ethylparaben.

Parabens aren’t only found in cosmetics: they’re also in our foods. In fact, according to a study published in 2013, scientists in Albany, New York found parabens in 90% of the foods they bought in local markets.

Are Parabens Bad?

Considering how common parabens are in our cosmetics (and our food), is there a danger in using products containing them? This is a question that scientists continue to review. Much of the concern around parabens dates to a 2004 study in the Journal of Applied Toxicology. The study touted a link between breast cancer and parabens, as it found that in-tact parabens could be found and extracted from human breast tissue.

However, some scientists dispute this. Dr. Mokoto Mukai, in an interview with NPR, explained that because the study didn’t compare tumorous tissue to normal breast tissue (to see if parabens were found in normal breast tissue), and because the researchers only examined the tissue nearest to the armpit, it was difficult to draw a conclusion about parabens one way or the other. For their part, the FDA states that they do not currently have any information indicating that parabens affect human health one way or the other.

While this particular study may not be conclusive, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics states that there are reports that parabens have also been linked to reproductive, immunological, neurological and skin irritation problems.

Paraben Free Makeup

While researchers disagree, you still may find yourself in the market for paraben free makeup. Maybe you want to play it safe, or maybe you prefer your cosmetic products to be free of chemical preservatives.

As paraben free makeup and other cosmetics become more popular, they are easier to find. The non-profit, Breast Cancer Action, provides readers with a list of brands that only sell paraben free products. The list includes many well-known brands, including Barefoot Botanicals, Burt’s Bees, and Tom’s of Maine.

Natural Healthy Concepts sells many paraben free products, many that can be used as part of a paraben free makeup routine. From paraben free makeup primer to makeup remover to moisturizer, it’s easier than you might think to make your entire skincare and makeup routine paraben free.

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