Parabens and Sulphates- how dangerous are they?

Let’s face it, words like “sulphates” and “parabens” don’t exactly conjure up images of fluffy clouds and babbling brooks. They sound like harsh chemicals. Things to avoid. Many products include labels of “no SLS or parabens” and this can make people even more wary. But are they really dangerous?

First all, what is a paraben? Parabens are preservatives. They are used to keep cosmetics- anything from deodorant to eyeshadow- from turning into little bacteria and mould factories. Parabens are also easily absorbed into the skin and they have the potential to disrupt hormone function, so people worry that they might be linked to things like breast cancer or male reproductive problems.

But the majority of scientists actually agree: The potential of parabens to disrupt hormones is extremely weak, and the link between paraben use and cancer can’t be proven. Parabens are classified as”GRAS” in the U.S. (generally regarded as safe). It’s a relief to know that there isn’t any substantial claim to be made there.

What about suphates? Surfactants in shampoos are often called sulphates. Take a look at any bottle (#checkyourbacksides) and you will probably see something with the word sulphate in it. Look for words like- Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS), Ammonium Lauryl Sulphate, Sodium Laureth Sulphate (SLES).

Sulphates are another chemical claimed to have a link to cancer. However, once again, there has been no scientific evidence that this is the case. The World Health Organisation has said that its safe for consumer use, but you will still see a lot of companies advertising “doesn’t contain SLS or sulphates”. Why?

Although sulphates have not been properly linked to cancer, they are potential irritants. So if you have sensitive skin, or any kind of skin condition, like excema, they are well worth avoiding. There is a wide range of products that are free from these ingredients and worth a try.


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