Damn you beauty products! If only we weren’t such suckers for pretty packaging and hyped up advertising we wouldn’t be squandering our finances on stuff that never ever works. And yet, a trip to the drugstore to pick up earbuds somehow turns into an excuse to try out a brand new serum, lip gloss or mascara every.single.time. We know, it’s tough!

But what if we told you that most of the products you buy are actually very bad for you? Because chances are these contain parabens.

Parabens are chemicals used as preservatives to fight bacteria and fungus, and are what enable your products to have a long shelf life. Parabes are widely available and cost very little to manufacture and use. Nearly all of the parabens used as preservatives are man-made and can be found in shampoos, commercial moisturizers, shaving gels, cleansing gels, personal lubricants, topical pharmaceuticals and toothpaste. Sometimes they are also used as food additives. You may recognise their names as—methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben and isobutylparaben, to name a few. They have been around for over 70 years.

So what’s the big deal, you ask? Before we go ahead, let us point out that numerous studies have been published as to why parabens may be bad or not so bad for you. These are widely available on the internet if the topic interests you. On our part, we will simply indicate the risks which have been reported and encourage you to make an informed choice.

Essentially, parabens have been found to mimic estrogen. This to some is cause to believe that they are a possible trigger for cancer, especially breast cancer. The FDA has come to the conclusion that at this moment, parabens are a safe ingredient in skin care products and that there is no cause of concern. They will continue to do research and alert the public if this changes.

Yet some questions are still being asked: Is the rising incidence of breast cancer linked in part to parabens? Are declining sperm counts and increasing rates of male breast cancer and testicular cancer related to the fact that these chemicals can be absorbed into our skin, potentially disrupting our endocrine systems?

Only time will tell. We think there’s reason to be mindful, but no reason to have an all-consuming concern about these chemicals. If in doubt, choose products which are “paraben free”. Keep an eye out for that guarantee, as many companies are proudly displaying this on their labels. In recent years, many brands have gone back to basics with more gentle, chemical-free and natural cosmetics. The choice is yours!