Welcome to Focus Fridays. In this series, we cover harmful ingredients found in our everyday home and personal care products, with a deep dive into a new ingredient each Friday.
In today's episode, we cover parabens.
What are Parabens?
Where are they commonly found?
What are they also known as?
Why should we avoid them?
Don't miss next Tuesday, when we have a fantastic conversation with a special guest, Lucy Hutchings, a Registered Dietician. We discuss how environmental toxins and harmful ingredients in our everyday products can affect your health, even with optimal nutrition.
Happy Friday, Eco Mama's here we are on our third ingredients talk. This is our sixth episode. And if you haven't caught on to the rhythm of which episode is which yet the even numbers are when we do the deep dive into the ingredients. Where the odd numbers are when I ramble on about some crazy thing that's going on in my life, or I get some super smart Uber person to come on with me and share their stories. So. That is. How, you know, what's going on. So if it's even. It's a deep dive into ingredients and it's usually a shorter podcast. Just me talking. And then on Tuesdays, you will get a more formal, little bit longer, either me telling a story and me having a conversation with someone. Yeah. So that's the difference between the two we're hitting this twice a week right now, because I think it's important to have the foundation of the ingredients, why I'm talking about what I'm talking about. So today's topic is on parabens. Our deep dive into ingredients is on parabens. Parabens is spelled P a R a B E N S. Now this is an ingredient that has gotten a lot more, I guess buzz, in the industry. It's more commonly known and you're going to see more labels that say paraben-free. But parabens are endocrine disruptors in short. They jumped into our system. From products that we use and they disrupt our hormones. So I touched a little bit on hormone disruption in the past two episodes on ingredients with fragrances and phthalates. Parabens are a pretty, they're a pretty hard hitter, they go straight to the reproductive system. They disrupt hormones in our bodies. They harm our fertility and reproductive organs, both men and women. They can affect birth outcomes. They can also increase the risk of cancer. One of the other minor side effects would be skin irritation. So what exactly are they. Well, there are a group of chemicals and they're used as artificial preservatives. They are found most commonly in cosmetics and body care products. As a preservative, it allows products to last longer. If you've ever made, a loaf of bread at home, whether in a bread machine, or you needed the dough yourself and baked it in the oven, it's only gonna last, a day or two. Not just because it tastes so good and everybody ate it. But it will actually spoil, because there's no preservatives in that bread. Now, when it comes to cosmetics, makeup, body care products, it's kind of a similar fashion. Now it's going to last longer than one or two days, but larger companies, especially those that are mass producing products, they want their products to last as long as possible. They don't want to have to put an end date or a discard by date or an expiration date of a week or two, they want something that's going to last a year or two. I mean, they've, they've invested a lot of money and time and energy into making these products. So they add artificial preservatives to prolong the shelf life of the products that they're producing. These artificial preservatives, otherwise known as parabens, are chemicals. As I mentioned, they disrupt hormones. They harm fertility and reproductive organs. Many studies have detective paravanes in nearly all your in samples taken from adults in the U S so that means that really no one is unscathed from it. But. We can make a difference moving forward. We can try to minimize just with anything else that I've ever discussed. I don't know how to escape, this chemical warfare, so to speak it comes to our personal care. However, minimizing is the key here. So minimizing our toxins, striving for a toxin free home. Perfection is overrated. I think that progress over perfection is the mindset we need. Products can be made without preservatives. They can be made very easily without using parabens. Parabens are used in a wide variety of leave on and rinse off products, especially those with a high water content such as shampoos and conditioners. Things that people use every single day. There anti- microbial, properties are most effective against fungi and gram-positive bacteria. So this keeps it from spoiling or having a so fun guys. Is a spore. It is like mold. So it keeps it from forming that mold. Moisturizers face and skin cleaners, sunscreens deodorant, shaving gels, toothpaste, makeup. Many other products contain parabens. So what happens here is that they put these parabens into our products, into our moisturizers are facing skin cleansers, our sunscreens, for deodorants, or toothpaste, makeup, shaving gels. Then we use those moisturizers. We put them on our bodies. We put the cleansers on our faces. We put the sunscreen on our backs, the deodorants under our arms, we use the shaving gel on our legs. The toothpaste in our mouth. And it absorbs into our body. They're absorbed straight through our skin. Our skin is our largest organ. Can you hear me say that a lot, but I don't think it could ever be said too much. I mean, it's really, really matters. And anything that's put on our skin is just as good as putting in our body because it's going to hit our bloodstream faster than anything you put in your mouth. Will exposure to parabens really harm you? That's a really good questionthat a lot of people ask. In small doses, no. I think that our bodies can defend it as long as we have a strong immune system. However, repeated exposure builds up in your body. It can't discard all of these chemicals all at one time. So what happens is that these multiple products that we're using every day. We're having direct and continuous exposure. It is continuing to build in us. And the longer we're exposed to it, and the repeated lifetime exposure we have, the more negative side effects we're going to have. This is another ingredient that I strive to keep away from my children. Because at some point in life, they're going to be exposed to parabens. However, if I can minimize their exposure to parabens at a young age when all of the developmental things are happening in their body and in their mind. Then they have a better chance and adulthood not having this negative effect on them. Parabens, like phthalates, are very harmful to children because children are susceptible when our babies are in the womb, when they're developing physically, even during adolescents, when their hormones are developing and puberty. They have done studies on adolescent girls when they start wearing makeup. And those adolescent girls that were makeup every single day had 20 times the levels of parabens in their system than those that never wore makeup or rarely wore it. The use of face and body, lotions have also skyrocketed the paraben levels in the same age range of children. The point I have in this is that if, your teens or tweens are going to be using personal care products, I would love, love, love if you started looking at their products and the ingredients of them. If you're not ready to make the changes for yourself. So be it! But see if you can help your children have a better chance of having a long, healthy life. We did a podcast last Tuesday, you can refer back to, that was episode three. I did an interview with my two daughters and one of their girlfriends. We talked about the tween years and going into makeup and why it's not only important to have clean ingredients, but I got the perspective of the girls and it was super sweet and it was so fun. My one daughter, I think she could have her own podcast. She just like ran away with a show. And it's entertaining. So if you haven't listened to it, I suggest you go back and listen to episode three, but it just talks about wearing makeup and the importance of knowing what you're putting on your skin and washing it off every night. And why kids want to be in the makeup. If you have a tween or a teen, please check their ingredients, help them understand that the products that they're using, if they're going to be using products at this age, which all girls do for sure. Some boys. Even my son, my son wanted hair gel before my girls did. It's hilarious. And I told him that I only have to go to the store and mommy needs to look at the ingredients and I will try and find you a cleaner brand. He asked and he asked and he asked, he asked and I kept putting it off and procrastinating hoping he would just forget. Then another two weeks went by and I still hadn't gotten him anything. I wanted to get online to find a good hair product for him. And he just got to the point where he's like, mom, I don't think you're ever going to do it. Well, of course that crushed my little mama heart. So I'm like, all right, let's get in the car. He's like what? And I'm like, yeah, let's go. And we went up to Whole Foods. Not everything at Whole Foods are things that I would approve, but I do check the ingredients on the back of them. And I did find a hair gel that, you know, it wasn't as bad as the others. And it's, it's something that I felt safe for him using. And sure enough, he used it every day for like three months. It was awesome. So I was glad that I didn't waste money on that product. Anyway, girls and boys are going to be using them. There's different types of parabens. Also known as' is important to pay attention to these ingredients because so many are being referenced as initials and you don't know what they mean. There's not as many initials in parabens as there were in phthalates. With parabens, the root of the word it's going to be at the very end of it. Some examples is ISO butyl, butyl, ISO propyl, and propylaparabon. Anything with the word paraben on the is considered like a long-chain paraben. If you see the word paraben, my advice is just to put it back on the shelf, keep walking. In the beginning, when I talked about the endocrine disruption and cancer, the types of cancers that they have found related to parabens or in particularly breast cancer in women. Because an endocrine disruptor can be mimicked like an estrogen and women's bodies. Parabens can hurt more than just people. These are artificial preservatives created for products. Well, what happens to products after we use them? Did they just disappear into thin air? No. Unused products are going to hit landfills or they're going to be burned. They're going to be discarded somehow. Right? Now if the products are not made to be biodegradable or the packaging is not very degradable, it's going to stick around a long time. It's going to take a while for these things to break down. In addition, let's say you do use these products, only, the container ended up in the landfill. The lotion that you put on, it obsorbed into your skin. Now there was some residual still there. So when you showered that night before bed, It went down the drain. Eventually it makes its way back to our streams and our oceans. It's just the cycle of water and how it's recycled. So they have found that butyl- Parabon can kill coral. The dangers in parabens have become more and more evident over the years. Thankfully, you have more options when it comes to looking for paraben-free. However, I would not go so far as to say that the majority of products are paraben-free. Important thing here. When I say, know your ingredients. If ingredients are not listed on a product. It's a red flag. And it goes back to the first ingredient we discussed on episode two fragrances. If it has fragrance on there, chances are there's a paraben in the product it's just hidden under the label. If fragrance is listed anywhere on the list of ingredients, it is considered a proprietary blend and the manufacturer is legally allowed to hide other ingredients inside. Parabens can still be in your product, even if you don't see the word paraben, because it can be disguised inside the ingredients that make up the fragrance. So just be mindful. And if it says fragrance, that's, that's the biggest, that's like the second red flag. If there's. No ingredients listed first red flag. And then if there is fragrance in the ingredients, second red flag, because that is hiding something from you. I believe in being fully transparent and I only use brands that are fully transparent with me. I drove to a farmer's market to an event to find local cottage market artisans. I met this woman, Cindy, with Herb Garden Soaps. We started talking. She was describing to me all the changes that she had made since she started her business. One of the products that she has in addition to the soaps that she makes is a facial mask. And it's in a little glass jar and it's a powder. And she said, 'you know, I, I went back and forth on how to provide my products. And I learned that in order to make this face mask last longer, I had to have preservatives to it, if I added water. But, if I just sell, the powder and I let my customers mix it with water themselves, not only does it prolong the shelf life, I don't have to add any artificial preservatives, such as parabens to make it last longer. So I do not add water to my products. I just provide the powder on these.' I loved learning that from her. I'm grateful that there's people out there, that are not only paying attention to this, but they're making products using this knowledge that they've gained on what is safer for us. I'm so grateful for all of these individual small businesses that are creating things that are safe for us safe for my family. It's not the end of the world to have to make your own products. But it is exhausting. It's time consuming. And frankly, I've got other things that other do with my day. So I'm glad that there's some place that I can go and find these things that I enjoy using everyday. That covers all I have today for you eco mamas with parabens. I want to make sure you mark your calendar for next Tuesday. Next Tuesday's podcast is really amazing. I know because I've already recorded it. It's with Lucy Hutchings, who is a registered dietician. We have this amazing conversation about the importance of not only paying attention to the ingredients in our products, but also the ingredients in our food. And she talks about how it's important, to watch out for your environmental toxins, because even if you're optimizing your nutritional value and the food that you eat, you can still be causing harm to yourself. Environmental toxins can actually block your body's ability to absorb the nutrients. If your diet is perfect and your products are filled with toxins, you might still having the inability to lose weight or to have energy and feel better. They go hand and hand nutrition and ingredients. Both matter when it comes to optimizing health. So join us on Tuesday, be sure to follow so that this episode will be downloaded and ready for you when you're ready to listen to it. Thanks again for joining me today, and I love that you were here and I look forward to connect again next week. Have a wonderful weekend.