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January 09, 2020
All About Sulfates and Parabens- Are They Harmful?
There are growing concerns about the preservatives – Sulfates and Parabens in health and personal care products. While there is no concrete evidence of them causing cancer or any other health related problems, there is cause for concern given their effects.
Sulfate is a salt that forms sulfuric acid with another chemical. Sulfates encompass other chemicals such as sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and sodium laureth sulfate (SLES), and are usually found in cleaning and personal care products. Creating lather to give a better impression of cleaning is the prime usage of SLS and SLES. The fact is that even if used as directed, the products that contain these chemicals do cause irritation and other effects. For instance, for those with hyper-sensitive skin, synthetic fragrances coupled with sulfates could cause rash on the skin. Additionally, while sulfates may be effective in removing dirt from hair, they also strip the hair of essentials oils and proteins – substances that keep hair shiny and healthy. Sulfate based products also remove the effects of keratin treated and colored hair. When such products get into the eyes, they cause a burning sensation and mild irritation for a while.
These are a group of synthetic compounds and since 1950 are being used as preservatives in a wide range of beauty, personal care, and health products. If the products used contain compounds such as methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben and isobutylparaben, it means they contain Parabens. These compounds are used to prevent the growth of fungus and possibly harmful microbes. Research and studies show that at least 90% of grocery items contain an appreciable amount of parabens. These items include deodorants, toothpastes, shampoos, conditioners, body lotions, makeup, and others. Hence, even if you are someone who carefully selects personal care products, you would still be ingesting parabens in some way.
As per the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA), the overexposure and excess of products containing these compounds could potentially be causing the myriad health problems. One of the major concerns with regard to paraben overload is disrupted hormonal functioning, which in turn is linked to the heightened risk of breast cancer and toxicity in the reproductive system. The fact is that parabens ape estrogen in so much as binding themselves to estrogen receptors on cells. This leads the body to confuse it with influx of estrogen over normal levels. This in turn can sometimes trigger reactions such as tumors and breast cell division.
It is important to remain aware and cautious, and seek out cosmetics with natural and preservative-free products. While these products may have shorter shelf life than most products, their regular usage would ensure they are over before they expire.
Sulfates and Parabens obviously do not have any benefits, but do have some downsides. They are not essential to your cleaning and personal care products, and hence if you can and are able to find products that are free of these chemicals and compounds it would be advisable to use those products. Check with your dermatologist if in doubt.
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