Parabans and Sulphates

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How Parabans and Sulphates May Damage Your Hair and Your Body

Parabans and sulphates or sulfates have been the subjects of numerous scientific studies. These chemicals are in cosmetics, foods, drugs and many other products that we are exposed to on a regular basis. While they have a low toxicity, the many different routes of exposure increase the risks of exposure. Here’s what you should know before you buy hair care products or other cosmetics that contain those ingredients.
Parabans are included in cosmetics because they are effective preservatives. Hair and skincare products contain oils and water that can quickly become rancid or spoiled. The use of rancid products on your hair or skin can contribute to infections, cause pimples and other problems. So, it is important to include a preservative in these products, but there are safe and natural alternatives.
The main risk of parabans is absorption through your skin and into your bloodstream. Chemicals in shampoos and cleansers are less likely to be absorbed because they are on your skin for such a short time. In the case of leave-on conditioners, hair spray, gels, mousse and other products that are left in your hair for extended periods of time, it is more likely that the chemicals will reach your bloodstream.
Once in your bloodstream, parabans act like the hormone estrogen. They are classified as endocrine disruptors. They confuse your body’s endocrine system, causing or contributing to hormonal imbalances. Chemicals that mimic the effects of estrogen are particularly dangerous in certain kinds of breast cancer. The growth of some breast cancer tumors is triggered by the hormone.
Sodium laurel sulphate is the problematic sulphate found in cleansers and shampoos. It is a foaming agent. It is generally recognized as safe, but it strips away oils that protect the hair and the skin. Regular use of products containing the ingredient can cause dry, damaged hair.
Sodium laurel sulphate is also a skin irritant that should be avoided by people with eczema and other skin conditions. The irritation caused by the ingredient can trigger or worsen acne outbreaks.
When sulphates combine with other ingredients commonly found in cosmetics, they can form nitrates or nitrosamines. Nitrates are known human carcinogens. They cause cellular mutations that lead to cancer.
So, both parabans and sulphates can damage your skin, your hair and the rest of your body. Of the two, sulfates are probable the worst. But you would be wise to avoid the chemicals in favor of safe, natural alternatives.