are parabens harmful
Hair Care

Are Sulfates and Parabens Damaging Your Hair?

What You Need To Know About Parabens!

Over the last few years, the words “sulfates” and “parabens” have become increasingly popular in the health and beauty world. The more that I’ve become immersed in beauty, the more that I’ve noticed that companies want it to be known that they don’t use harmful ingredients, especially parabens.

Sulfates and parabens are considered to be harmful, but nobody ever really dives into why they are bad for us. We’re just supposed to avoid them at all costs, but why? For us to be able to direct this, we’ll need first to understand what parabens are, and what they’re used for.

Sometimes, people wrap their heads around the idea of something being harmful that they forget to do the proper research. I admit that I’ve been that person before. It’s similar to being in public and seeing everyone run and running too.

You’re not running because you know what you’re running from, but because you see everyone else running also and don’t want to be left behind. It’s a regular thing to do, but some things require more investigation than that!

Let’s get into parabens, what they are, and why they’re considered harmful.

hair products

Parabens? What Are Those?

Parabens are defined as a class of chemicals that are used in preservatives in many personal care products, including lotions, shampoos, kinds of toothpaste, makeup and many more items. There are six different types of parabens commonly used in care products.

There are listed as methyl-, ethyl-, propyl-, isopropyl-, butyl-, and isobutylparabens. These paragons work together to curb bacterial growth so that products can remain in stores for a more extended period. Without preservatives, we would have a big bacterial problem.

Preservatives work to keep bacterial contamination at bay. So, in a sense, parabens are extremely helpful when it comes to longevity and safety. So, at what point did they become harmful to us?

Well, there’s a variety of different reasons. When you think of preservatives, you probably think of food. When chemicals are used in food, they are used to keep the food lasting. However, despite this significant benefit, they can often be harmful.

That’s why you hear a lot of news regarding GMO’s and how they are awful for us. Preservatives are beneficial with a significant downfall. The same goes for parabens.

Let’s talk about what makes them so dangerous.

corporate hair

What’s Bad About Them?

Even though parabens are helpful for keeping bacteria away, there’s a reason why they are so concerning. The reason that people consider them to be harmful is because of the chemical types they are created out of.

The chemicals listed previously are deemed potential endocrine interrupters. Endocrine disruption is the disruption of the standard functions of the hormone system. Our hormone system drives all the functions of our body, and if it’s disrupted, it causes serious issues.

An imbalance can alter growth, especially hair growth, reproduction, and brain function. Parabens are made to mimic the hormone estrogen specifically. Due to this, they could interfere with the average production of estrogen. The concern is that interfering with estrogen could cause the development of breast tumors.

There have been studies linking breast cancer and parabens, but nothing has been explicitly proven. There have been other discussions revolving around infertility being connected with the use of parabens.

It’s been said that reproductive hormones are affected when individuals use parabens at a high rate. All in all, there have been studies regarding the use of parabens that have sparked some concern about continuing usage.

Be mindful of the things you use people!

Is There An Alternative?

If you had asked this questions some time ago, the answer would’ve probably been no. These days, however, there are plenty of alternatives available to you. One of the biggest things to pay attention when looking for other options is whether a product has water as the base.

By avoiding water, you’re preventing questionable ingredients that are used to preserve the product. Anhydrous formulas are what a lot of manufacturers are leaning towards.

However, despite how harmful they can be, preservatives are often necessary.

Some companies have moved towards using alternatives such as lavender extract, green tea, and eucalyptus. However, you’ll have to be mindful of the other options because not everything works for everyone.

Just because a product doesn’t have parabens doesn’t mean that it’s safe. Many products still contain other chemicals that can be harmful.

The best and least harmful products are going to be the ones with the most natural ingredients.

If you’re unsure of the elements, then it most likely contains a chemical that can be harmful to you. There are tools and resources out there that can help you sort through harmful products.

There are even apps that will scan a barcode and let you know the ingredients that are harmful to a product. No matter what, you’ll want to decrease the use of chemicals on your hair.

Make sure you’re paying attention to the items you’re putting in your hair.

phone in hand social media

Parabens Or No Parabens?

As with anything that’s harmful to us, it doesn’t have to be deadly as long as we use it with moderation. For me, I like to make sure that my care products are as natural as possible.

There is a long list of chemicals listed in haircare products that affect the nature of your hair, and eventually your overall health. When I don’t feel like using harmful ingredients, I like to make everything in the comfort of my home.

Sometimes, I’ll make a homemade deep conditioner to bring moisture to my roots. It’s not easy to avoid chemicals, especially ones like parabens that often seem necessary for preservation. However, even though it’s not easy doesn’t mean that it’s impossible.

If you use a low amount and stick to using organic ingredients that won’t be too harmful, you should be okay. If you have any real concerns, it’s always best to consult with a physician that will help you find products that work for you!

About Simi Muhumuza

Simi is an undergraduate student at GSU. She is studying psychology, and is an avid black mental health advocate. She is also a poet, and is working on a book that will be released next year. She DJ’s on her spare time, and can be reached on all social outlets as @simimoonlight.

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