Oh Parabens, You are So Misunderstood

Oh Parabens, You are So Misunderstood

Recently whilst reading yet another organic mascara mashup, I came across a comment on a natural brand wannbe. The commenter stated that a certain brand of mascara (that rhymes with pLUSH) contains “naturally occurring parabens.” She knew this was true because it says so on their website.


Ok. Let’s cover this parabens thing again.

It drives me crazy that parabens, and the misconceptions that follow them, are such a large focus when it comes to toxic cosmetic ingredients. Sure, they are among those you don’t want in your products for a variety of reasons. These synthetic preservatives act as estrogen in the body and can potentially disrupt hormones.

Still, parabens certainly aren’t the only sinful culprits in mainstream cosmetics. They may not even be the most harmful. But they are well known and highly visible, making them attention grabbers. “No parabens!” and “Paraben-free!” on product labels means “Safe!” or “Nontoxic!” to many consumers.

A product that is paraben free is not necessarily toxin free.

Then there is the newish marketing ploy of linking parabens used in cosmetics to natural sources, as cited above. The brand mentioned threw in a one liner on how “parabens occur naturally in some fruits and vegetables.”

Sure, naturally occurring parabens can be found in some foods, like strawberries, carrots, currants, and vanilla. But parabens used in cosmetics are not taken straight from a blueberry and infused into your mascara. They are synthesized, with a completely different resulting structure. And they are toxic. No matter how discreetly they are linked to nature by a quasi-natural brand.

If you are buying a product because it is paraben-free you’d better flip that baby over and check the ingredients listing. Paraben-free does not a safe product make.

As always, if you have questions on parabens or any other cosmetic ingredient, please ask. I’m happy to help.

Written by Liz Thompson

I am an organic beauty expert, writer, and mom of two young environmentalists who can already spot a toxic product when they see one. Read more about me at Organic Beauty, and find me on , Twitter, Pinterest, and Facebook.

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