Should We Really Be Afraid of Parabens in our Makeup?

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You've probably heard by now that parabens are not something you want in your beauty products. They've quickly become one of those chemicals scientists and organic brands are both saying we should look out for. But when we heard a study recently came out linking parabens to a possibility of breast cancer, we had to investigate. What exactly are parabens, and what's the threat? Should we really be avoiding them altogether?

No worry boos, Cambio's got you.

Turns out, parabens aren't just some evil chemical cosmetic brands are putting in our products just to poison us. When our fave creams, shampoos or some makeups are made, manufacturers will include parabens to prevent bacteria or fungi from growing in our products. Gross. Basically, parabens help our products last longer, and keep us from developing a nasty illness from using that mascara a bit too long.
That being said, parabens may be more dangerous than we thought before. Previous research has found that parabens can often mimic the effects of estrogen, the female sex hormone. When this happens, your body is tricked into thinking it's made more estrogen than it actually has, which leads to reproductive problems and possibly even cancer.

Most parabens in our lotions, hair care products and cosmetics are in very low doses, but researchers at UC Berkley are becoming weary of even that amount. In their study, they found that exposing breast cancer cells to parabens in low doses allowed the cells to grow pretty quickly.

Yikes.
Woman pumping lotion into handsBut what exactly does that mean for us? Dr. Dale Leitman, one of the researchers of the study, told Cambio that it's difficult to estimate if parabens will actually cause breast cancer and how often that will happen. Because his research showed that breast cancer cells meeting with parabens make more cancerous cells, there's a possibility, but we don't know what that means for healthy individuals.
Set of make up objectsOur advice? Be aware of parabens possibly in your cosmetics, and try to stay away as much as you can. Luckily, a lot of personal care product brands are moving away from using parabens altogether just in case. On its site, Breast Cancer Action has a list of products that are paraben-free, some of which include Afterglow Cosmetics, Barefoot Botanicals and Burt's Bees. And that list is pretty long, showing that more and more products are ditching the parabens for other methods of keeping bacteria from growing.

Reading labels can help as well; most products will detail if they're paraben-free. But if you're still curious about whether the products you use have parabens, the Enviromental Work Group's online database Skin Deep allows you to type in your favorite product and will give you a list of all the chemicals in it.

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