Paraben is featured in a gazillion health and beauty products – think body lotions, mascara, conditioners and deodorants – you name it, it’s in it! It’s also found in beer, soft drinks, jam, and all sorts of other food too. So, it’s not surprising that this ingredient has left many beauty-lovers scratching their heads. Throw in the term ‘paraben-free’ and it can be even more confusing. Well, fear not – there’s a very simple explanation…
What is it?
Right, so paraben can be used in your favourite cat-eye-on-fleek eyeliner AND your go-to Sunday brunch pancake syrup? Say what? Let’s start with this. Whether this ingredient is in your food or makeup, you’d rather have it in there than not. Paraben is a common antimicrobial preservative used to stop nasty bacteria from infecting our everyday products.
Why is it used?
Paraben is used in products like toners, lotions, blushes and foundations to stop them from being a breeding ground for mould and fungus. And the same goes for long-life food products too, which is why it can be found in the makeup aisle and the food aisle.
How can you tell if something contains paraben?
Simply look towards the end of the list of ingredients and you’ll see it. Bear in mind, it’s probably hiding behind a scientific name, like ethylparaben, isobutylparaben, methylparaben or propylparaben. It’s also good to know that by EU law, only a teeny-tiny amount can be used – 0.4% of a product’s total volume, to be precise. Hardly anything, but it does the trick.
OK, so why use paraben-free products?
If you prefer to go down the au naturel route, then you can find products that are paraben-free. Also, if you have sensitive skin, then cutting paraben out of your daily routine could be the thing for you. Paraben has been known to increase the skin’s sensitivity to UV rays (especially methylparaben), so look out for paraben-free products that will give you peace of mind when catching those rays.
Natural preservatives, like benzyl alcohol, are a great alternative to paraben, and boast the same benefits. These preservatives are usually found in plants, tea leaves and essential oils like jasmine.
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