So, what exactly are Parabens? Parabens are the most widely used preservatives in personal care products; they stop fungus, bacteria and other microbes from growing in many of the creams, lotions, and makeup that you use every day. Some common parabens are methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben and isobutylparaben. You’ll find these listed on the labels of thousands of personal care products such as shampoos, mascara, foundations, and body lotions.
There has been growing concern over the years that parabens may pose a cancer risk. Parabens are said to mimic estrogen in the body, and the question has even been asked if the rising occurrence of breast cancer might have something to do with the widespread use of parabens in cosmetics and bath and body products. It’s been known for 25 years that estrogen exposure is linked to breast cancer. A 2004 study done by Philippa Darbre, a senior lecturer in oncology and researcher in bimolecular sciences at the University of Reading in England, detected parabens in 18 of 20 samples of tissue from breast tumor biopsies. Furthermore, she concluded research has found that about 55% of all breast cancer tumors occur in the upper outside portion of the breast. The section closest to the underarm, where antiperspirant is applied. This is very concerning.
Because of the concern over parabens, many companies are taking them out of their formulations. You’ll find labels that say a product is “Paraben Free”. But it actually may not be. Not widely known by consumers, fragrances often do contain parabens. Unfortunately, manufacturers are not required to individually label the ingredients that make up a fragrance, since fragrance recipes are considered to be "trade secrets". Labels must contain the word "fragrance" but not the details as to what that fragrance contains.
So what can you do? My suggestion, avoid fragrances altogether. Look for products that contain essential oils; the natural oils and natural scents from plants. They are clean, fresh, wonderfully natural, and they don’t contain parabens!