5 Preservatives That May Harm Your Health
99% of cosmetic products today contain preservatives.
Their primary purpose is to extend the shelf life of personal care products by preventing
the growth of microorganisms, as well as to stop undesirable alterations of the
product’s formula. While it is true that they make our lotions & potions
stay fresh and usable longer, it is also true that some preservatives carry hidden
risks for human health – risk that are often overlooked by the average consumer.
If you don’t want to put your health at
risk, allow us to share with you a short list, containing 5 preservatives that
we strongly recommend avoiding.
In a recent study, traces of triclosan were
found in 75% of urine samples and 97% of breast milk samples analysed, which
only confirms that this particular preservative is industry’s “favourite”
antibacterial ingredient. Sadly, even though troclosan is indeed effective in suppressing
bacteria growth, its safety is questionable…
Triclosan has long been suspected of
interfering with thyroid and reproductive hormones, but some recent studies
reveal that its harmful effect on the human body doesn’t end there. The newest
concerns related to triclosan were raised after it was found to cause liver
fibrosis in laboratory mice. Mice that were exposed to triclosan for eight
months were more susceptible to developing liver scars, compared to those that
were not exposed to the chemical. Doesn’t sound like something we’d like to put
on our skin…
I bet that when I say “preservatives” the
first word that comes to your mind is “parabens”.
Since parabens naturally occur in certain
foods, many manufacturers manipulate with this fact and claim that parabens are
easily metabolized and have no undesirable effects on human health. The truth
is slightly different, though…
Synthetically produced parabens, found in
cosmetic formulas, bypass the normal metabolic processes that take place in our
bodies, and enter our bloodstream intact. Once there, they exhibit oestrogen-mimicking
behaviour, which has been associated with increased risk of breast cancer. In a
study conducted in 2004, traces of parabens were detected in 18 out of 20 breast tumour biopsy samples.
Butylparaben has been
shown to interfere with male reproductive functions, having a negative impact
on the testosterone levels and sperm counts in men, while methylparaben (often added to sunscreen) reacts with UVB rays and
increases skin’s sensitivity, leading to DNA damage and premature aging. How
ironic is that?
Even though, phenoxyethanol is not as
widely used as it was 5 years ago, it can still be found on the ingredient
lists of many personal care products like hair serums, hair sprays, body lotions, facial creams, toners and cleansers .
Prolonged exposure to phenoxyethanol is associated
with allergic reactions ranging from mild hives to life-threatening anaphylaxis.
Products that contain over 1% phenoxyethanol can trigger eczema outbreaks and
worsen the overall condition of your skin, leading to severe dryness and hypersensitivity.
Things get even worse when phenoxyethanol is used in conjunction with parabens,
as the former actually increase the risk of allergic reaction – yet another
reason for you to avoid both of these chemicals.
Butylated hydroxyanisole and butylated
hydroxytoluene are closely related synthetic antioxidants that are often found
in lipsticks, moisturizers, and liquid foundations.
As far as their health-threatening properties
are concerned, it would perhaps be enough to say that the EU prohibits the use
of BHA, the State of California requires all products containing BHA to wear a
warning label that it is carcinogenic, while many other regulatory bodies have
flagged both chemicals for future assessment.
Both BHA and BHT have been listed as hormone
disruptors that cause liver, thyroid and kidney problems after long-term
exposure. Similarly to parabens, BHT may mimic oestrogen and have serious
Being poorly degradable and
bioaccumulative, BHA is considered very toxic to aquatic organisms, and environmentalists
warn about its increasing detection in water samples. By infiltrating our water
supply, BHA doesn’t only pose a threat to water-inhabiting organisms, but also
to the environment, and to our health.
Decades ago, formaldehyde was blacklisted
and destined to be phased out from cosmetic products for good, because of its
carcinogenic effect. Sadly, the ban on the use of formaldehyde didn’t affect the
use of formaldehyde-releasing preservatives like DMDM hydantoin, diazolidinyl
urea, imidazolidinyl urea, methenamine and quaternium-15.
Recently, several studies reported that concentrations
lower than 0.2 percent were safe for human use – green line for manufacturers. As
you can guess, instead of completely eliminating formaldehyde-releasing
preservatives from their products, many companies simply lowered their
concentration. While this may reduce their harmful effect on the human body, we
doubt it eliminates it. Even in low doses, these chemicals continuously release
small amounts of formaldehyde, which eventually add up and damages your health.
In conclusion, it’s worth mentioning that
many countries have banned some (or all) of the above-mentioned preservatives and
their use in personal care products is prohibited. Others have set
concentration restrictions and/or require for them to be clearly identified on
the labels. Unfortunately, in spite of that, the market is still flooded with
products loaded with ingredients with questionable safety. This only shows us that
at the end, it is up to us, as consumers, to educate ourselves and choose our products
If you liked this post, let us know by sharing it! Share and get $5 off for your next order with La Mav!