In an attempt to answer the question “What are Parabens?”, here is some information I’ve extracted from the internet.
This taken from Beautybible.com:
Parabens These ingredients have been around since the 1920s and have become the most highly-contentious in the beauty world, with companies scrambling to emblazon their packaging with ‘paraben-free’. Where products listed in this book contain parabens, we say so in the product write-up. Parabens are widely-used preservatives, added to ward off bacterial growth, and are also found in food and drugs, in smaller amounts. They’re actually a ‘family’ of preservatives which includes methyl-, propyl-, butyl- and ethyl-paraben. But are they safe? It depends on who you ask. The US Food & Drug Administration points to a review of studies that says they absolutely are; certainly, they have very low irritancy potential. But according to Lisa Donofrio, a US dermatologist and advisor to Health Magazine, ‘Several studies, including one done at the University of Montpellier in France, have found that parabens act like the hormone oestrogen. This concerns me since some breast cancer cells are encouraged to grow by the presence of oestrogen in the bloodstream.’ Dr. Donofrio does not recommend paraben-based products to her patients. As the natural beauty world becomes more sophisticated, many brands are finding alternatives to these preservatives so it’s easier than ever to avoid them.
This from Wikipedia:
This from breastcancerfund.com
CATEGORY*: Endocrine disruptor
FOUND IN: Preservatives for food, pharmaceuticals, and cosmetics
THE GIST: Parabens are used to prevent the growth of yeasts, molds, and bacteria in cosmetics products. Parabens appear in some deodorants and antiperspirants, in addition to personal care products that contain significant amounts of water, such as shampoos, conditioners, lotions, and facial and shower cleansers and scrubs. They’re also widely used as preservatives in food and pharmaceutical products. These estrogen mimickers are found in nearly all urine samples from U.S. adults of a variety of ethnic, socioeconomic and geographic backgrounds.
State of the Evidence on Parabens
Parabens are a group of compounds widely used as antimicrobial preservatives in food,pharmaceutical and cosmetics products, including underarm deodorants. Parabens are absorbed through intact skin and from the gastrointestinal tract (Soni, 2005).
Check personal care product labels and avoid any products with parabens or any word ending in “-paraben.”
Measurable concentrations of six different parabens have been identified in biopsy samples from breast tumors (Darbre, 2004). The particular parabens were found in relative concentrations that closely parallel their use in the synthesis of cosmetic products (Rastogi, 1995). Parabens have also been found in almost all urine samples examined from a demographically diverse sample of U.S. adults through theNHANES study. Adolescents and adult females had higher levels of methylparaben and propylparaben in their urine than did males of similar ages (Calafat, 2010). Higher levels of n-propylparaben were found in the axilla quadrant of the breast (the area nearest the underarm) (Barr, 2011). This is the region in which the highest proportion of breast tumors are found, although paraben concentration in the tissue samples was not related to location of breast tumors in individual women.
Parabens are estrogen mimickers (agonists), with the potency of the response being related to the chemical structure (Darbre, 2008). Parabens can bind to the cellular estrogen receptor (Routledge, 1998). They also increase the expression of many genes that are usually regulated by the natural estrogen estradiol and cause human breast tumor cells (MCF-7 cells) to grow andproliferate in vitro (Byford, 2002; Pugazhendhi, 2007). Nevertheless, parabens as a class do not fully mimic estradiol as regards these changes in cellular gene expression, nor are the effects of all parabens identical (Sadler, 2009).
PEG – Propylene glycol
This one taken from beautybible.com:
Propylene glycol This can be from a natural source – vegetable glycerine, mixed with grain alcohol – but more usually is a synthetic petrochemical mix, mixed with a water-attracting humectant; it’s been known to cause allergic reactions such as eczema.
PEGs Short for Polyethylene glycol, these synthetic ingredients are usually waxy compounds: the number refers to how liquid the product is, and the higher the number, the harder the texture of the ingredient. All PEGs have been identified to have the potential to be contaminated by 1,4-dioxane, a cancer-causing agent, as well as heavy metals. However, just because they can be, it doesn’t mean they are- and the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) committee has deemed that they are ‘safe for use, but added that PEG compounds ‘should not be used on damaged skin’. (You will find more comments from Professor Samuel Epstein on PEGs, in The Green Beauty Bible.) In the name – alongside PEG – you’ll find a word that gives you a clue where the original ingredient came from, before it was extremely highly-processed: rapeseed, almond, castor oil, etc.
PEG-4 rapeseedamide See PEGs, above.
PEG-7 glyceryl cocoate A combination of polyethylene glycol and glyceryl cocoate (derived from coconut oil) to form a type of sugar extract. It is a mild cleansing agent and emollient that breaks up fat on the skin’s surface without stripping the skin’s natural oils or causing dryness. It rinses completely from the skin with water, and may be used in place of Sodium lauryl or Sodium laureth sulfate, which are both drying and stripping for the skin.
PEG-10 dimethicone See PEGs, above.
PEG-15 stearyl ether See PEGs, above.
PEG-40 hydrogenated castor oil See PEGs, above.
PEG-40 glyceryl cocoate See PEGs, above.
PEG-60 almond glycerides See PEGs, above.
PEG-100 stearate See PEGs, above.
PEG-150 distearate See PEGs, above.
PEG-200 Hydrogenated glyceryl palmate See PEGs, above.
This is a link to Wikipedia:
Sodium laureth sulphate (SLS)
Sodium laureth sulphate (SLS), or sodium lauryl ether sulfate (SLES) is an anionic detergent and surfactant found in many personal care products (soaps, shampoos, toothpaste etc.). SLES is an inexpensive foaming agent. SLES, SLS, ALS and sodium pareth sulfate are surfactants that are used in many cosmetic products for their cleansing and emulsifying properties.
Sodium laureth sulfate is not to be confused with sodium lauryl sulfate. The two are distinct chemicals. However, sodium laureth sulfate is often made from sodium lauryl sulfate. According to the Environmental Working Group, sodium laureth sulfate can be an irritant to the skin, eyes, and lungs. Depending on how it is manufactured, it may also contain other chemicals with unfavorable health effects. The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics explains that sodium lauryl sulfate is often converted to the gentler sodium laureth sulfate through a manufacturing process that may result in 1,4 dioxane, which is a probable human carcinogen. Ethylene oxide is another possible byproduct of the manufacturing process and is considered a carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.What is especially concerning is that neither 1,4 dioxane nor ethylene oxide appears on ingredient labels because they are not technically product ingredients.
Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate is a relatively newer chemical to the market. It is increasingly becoming a replacement for sodium laureth and sodium lauryl sulfate. It is a surfactant used to clean, de-grease, and create lather.
Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate is derived from coconut and palm oils; a safe skin friendly surfactant (foaming agent) for both skin and hair. This mild plant derived surfactant creates a rich, luxurious lather that effectively removes surface oil, dirt and bacteria, without stripping or drying sensitive skin. Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate is also hydrophillic, this means it is attracted to water, which enables it to dissolve more readily in water. thus providing superior rinseablility.
This is a link to Wikipedia: