What Are Sulfates And Parabens Anyway?

People are woke to the clean movement in a real way. Turn over any beauty product and you’ll find a list of what the product doesn’t have. At a minimum, you want to see no synthetic fragrances, sulfates and parabens – and if you want to take it a step further skip these 10 harmful ingredients (phenoxyethonol is increasingly being banned so keep an eye out on this one).

So why are we seeing sulfate-free and paraben-free? Let’s break it down:


What actually is a sulfate?
A salt that forms when sulfuric acid reacts with another chemical. It’s a broader term for other synthetic sulfate-based chemicals you may be concerned about, such as sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and sodium laureth sulfate (SLES). These compounds are produced from petroleum and plant sources such as coconut and palm oil.

Why are they used?
Sulfates are generally added to products to create a lather or bubbles.

Why are sulfates bad?
They can irritate eyes, skin, and lungs, especially with long-term use. SLES may also be contaminated with a substance called 1,4-dioxane, which is known to cause cancer in laboratory animals. This contamination occurs during the manufacturing process.


What are parabens?
Parabens are synthetic chemicals that are used as preservatives in a wide variety of products including cosmetics and food. The parabens commonly used in personal care products are methyl-, ethyl-, propyl-, isopropyl-, butyl-, and isobutylparabens.

Why are they used?
They’re used to prevent the growth of bacteria, mold and fungi; giving a long shelf life.

Why are parabens bad?
In the 1990s, parabens were deemed xenoestrogens―agents that mimic estrogen in the body. “Estrogen disruption” has been linked to breast cancer and reproductive issues. And in 2004, British cancer researcher Philippa Darbre, Ph.D. found parabens present in malignant breast tumors. As a result, experts in many countries are recommending limits on paraben levels in cosmetic products. What’s more, watchdog organizations worry that if parabens can be stored in the body, over time they could have a cumulative effect and pose a health risk.

I hope you found this helpful. If you like the diver deeper like this into clean beauty, please let me know by leaving a comment below.

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