Monday, October 4, 2010

Friend or Foe?; Parabens



My kit weighs a whopping 40+lbs... and it's growing. Among the items are the usual suspects like mascara, foundations, powder blushes and shadows, moisturizers, etc... But seeing as how I am constantly in need of multiple colors and textures I keep various varieties of these items. And then I am sure to have mutliple formulas to compensate for different skin types. And then multiple colors and coverage options in those formulas. And then cleansers, toners, wipes, blah, blah, blah and blah. And then various forms of blah blah in case anyone is allergic to those blahs.

And, of course all those products come in ampules, capsules, bottles, tubes, jars or other forms of containers to keep light, air and debris from getting in. But regardless of the amount of product I have, once a product has been opened, it starts on it route to decay. This can be upsetting to find that half my options are no longer able to be used and need to be replaced immediately making my frustration grow as I have now been lugging around stuff I can't even use. Oh, my aching back!

As with food products, some kinds of preservatives are needed to keep spoilage from occuring and stretch the life of an item so it can be tasked for an appropriate amount of time. This insures that your lipstick will be good until the last of it has been swiped on.

The most common form of preservative for cosmetics are called parabens, of which are getting a tremedous amount of poor press lately. Parabens are thought to mimic the hormone estrogen and when absorbed into the system are unofficially linked to the development of breast cancer. Freaky, right?

But where do parabens even come from? Some are actually naturally occurring. Yep, "natural".

Methylparaben, in fact, is an antimicrobial found in blueberries as part of the acidic chemistry. However, when ingested and metabolized, it loses it's "esther" grouping and passes through the system without causing harm. But how many of us are eating our makeup?

Applied topically, cosmetics are absorbed through your skin and salivatious glands (eyes, nostrils, mouth). And at very minimal levels... I hope. Of course, if you add up your moisturizer, foundation, mascara, body cream, toothpaste, deodorant, hair gel, lip balm, .... Okay, maybe not so little.

When you really think about it, is it worth using some products if it means they could cause, not only certain cancers, but neurological disorders? If parabens are truly mimicing estrogen, they are bonding with receptors of your endocrine system which regulates information signaling throughout your body, and should those signals get disrupted, many problems can occur. We call these miscreants Endocrine Disruptors, and they are bad. Causing all kinds of issues with motor function, this can also lead to development disorders.

So how could such an evil character like Parabens even be allowed for public usage?! Well, quite frankly, there's really no remarkable evidence of their misdeeds or legislation to monitor studies on them. Currently the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has only gone so far to enact the FD&C Act in 2004. But since then, it has gone widely unopposed when new products come into development. Which means, when new technologies in cosmetics come into play, no one is really watching.

The main argument for proponents of parabens stay on the mode that no one is thought to use products "loaded" with them and very little can actually permeate the skin deep enough to cause any real harm. Skin, being the largest organ of our bodies, is exceptionally resilient and heals automatically. Or with very little aide. Parabens are no match for our skins biological healing function. But tell that to a cancer survivor.

Parabens are among the top ingredients to avoid at Cinco Vidas, a blog dedicated to well-being advice for those going through or recovering from cancer treatments. Which makes sense since those with suppressed immune systems are slower to heal from exposure to elements the average person might have no problem with.

For those with this kind of concern, other kinds of preservatives exist like Grapefruit Seed Extract (GSE) for it's antiviral, antimicrobial and antifungal properties. Mostly found in organic products you'll be able avoid the potential detriment of parabens. But whether or not GSE is as effective as parabens is yet to be seen.

Until more affirmative research is done, hopefully with the passing of the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010 we may keep from having to create our own cosmetics.

The best way to steer clear of parabens, if you should so choose, is to flip over the container of your products to the ingredient listing and look for the key words Methylparaben, Butylparaben, Propylparaben or Ethylparaben. I'll be doing the same, of course.

Maybe my kit will finally be able to drop some weight.

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