Parabens Come From Plants

It's true. Parabens are naturally occurring in many plants. Like this one: Japanese honeysuckle (INCI: Lonicera japonica). I've seen some 'natural' cosmetics companies advertise their products as paraben-free, yet Japanese Honeysuckle extract is on the ingredients list.

Hmmm.

I'm not sure whether to be ticked off about them lying about the paraben-free part or to be ticked off about parabens having gotten such a rotten deal they need to be hidden behind their origins in order to get people to buy products containing them. The truth is, parabens are a part of nature.

They Grow on Trees, Bushes and Underground

Parabens don't just come from Japanese Honeysuckle. They are found many other places.

Paraben Pie, Anyone?

Methylparaben is naturally occurring in blueberries, where it acts as a antimicrobial agent.

Parabens are naturally present in carrots, cocoa, vanilla, strawberries and grapes.

And...

You'll also find parabens naturally occurring in olives, coconut, ylang ylang, black currants, peaches...

There's more, but I'm sure you get the drift.

Saying Something is 'Paraben Free' isn't Necessarily Correct

In a two-part article entitled "Free from 'free from'", preservatives expert Dene Godfrey writes:  'Paraben free' is an increasingly common claim amongst companies offering 'natural' products. The potential problem here is that several parabens exist in nature. If natural substances are extracted from plants that contain parabens, it follows that parabens may be present in the final cosmetic product. Read part 1 of the article here • Read part 2 of the article here


How the Preservative Comes About

The paraben name is a condensation of the name Para-hydroxybenzoic acid. Parabens are esters of para-hydroxybenzoic acid.

What this means: para-hydroxybenzoic acid is chemically changed (reacted) by adding different types of alcohol to it (this is also called esterified). And just to be quite clear: paraben preservatives are not made by squishing blueberries. That would be far too expensive to be viable. Paraben preservatives for use in cosmetics and foods are made in a lab with manmade chemicals.

Is this Scary?

Not at all. Para-hydroxybenzoic acid has extremely low toxicity. Cosmeticsinfo.org writes: "Parabens have been shown to be 10,000 times weaker than the most potent phytoestrogens and 100,000 times less potent than estradiol, the estrogen produced naturally by the body."

They conclude:
"Parabens are far too weak to have any effect in humans." 
Read Cosmeticsinfo.org's article about parabens here

Now excuse me while I whip up a refreshing summer concoction. 

Paraben Smoothie

20 Strawberries
1 cup Coconut Milk
2 Peaches
Handful of ice cubes

Whiz in a blender until smooth and enjoy topped with a dollop of strawberry ice cream.



Photo at the top of this post: Japanese honeysuckle by William Rafti of the William Rafti Institute

Comments

Anette Kristine said…
SUPER info. Bliver altid klogere hos dig, Lise. Et spørgsmål: hvad anbefaler du som alternativ til SLS? Altså hvad gør hud og hår rent uden at udtørre og irritere? Stor hilsen Anette
Lise M Andersen said…
tak Anette!
Det ville være super dejligt hvis det var nemt at svare dette! Man er desværre nødt til at kigge på hele formula'en før man kan sige hvordan man kan erstatte SLS. Hvis et produkt er formuleret godt, kan SLS ligefrem være en fordel at have med - derfor er det umuligt at sådan give et enkelt svar.
Hvis man snakker om hud, er jeg den sidste der anbefaler nogen form for sæbestof.
Snakker man hår, så er der en del surfactants der kan erstatte SLS, men vi snakker om at kreere en cocktail af surfactants. SLS indgår også altid som en del af en cocktail af surfactants der hvor det bliver brugt. Som sagt-- død svært at svar på en enkel måde. Jeg er ellers i fuld gang med at undersøge den sukker-baseret surfactant du sendte mig navnet på for et stykke tid siden- og der kommer snart en blog-post om denne.
Sorry jeg kunne være mere hjælp, men det med SLS er en mange-sidet diskussion..
Foster Marine said…
Love Your blog, Lise:)

Under one of your posts I've found Dene Godfrey's comment and checked out his articles about parabens - they are really, really great. I wish I had more time to translate them into polish to show people that parabens ain't evil.
Lise M Andersen said…
Thank you so much Foster! Now I'll be running around with a silly grin on my face all day because of your kind words.
I agree with you about parabens not being evil. They really are everything but. They are rock solid trustworthy preservatives. :)
Anette Kristine said…
Hej Lise, mange tak - det vil sige, at du ikke er for eller imod SLS, men kigger på hvad (?), når du vurderer et produkts surfactants. Men i hudpleje viger du helt uden om SLS - hvad erstatter du så med, hvis kravet er at få 'ren hud' ;) ?
Mange hilsner Anette
Lise M Andersen said…
Hej Anette - Du har ret i at jeg ikke er hverken for eller imod SLS. Det bedste måde at svare dette på er at 'det kommer an på---'
Jeg kigger på hele sammensætning når jeg kigger på en surfactant mix.

Til hudpleje - og jeg går ud fra at du mener ansigtsvask, kan jeg anbefale på det absolut varmeste at vaske ansigtet med ren honning. Det virker for problemhud, sensibel hud, gammel hud, normal hud, tør hud.. you name it. Jeg har aldrig oplevet en bedre cleanser - punktum! Det renser nænsomt, er antibacteriel (derfor godt for problemhud) og udtørrer slet ikke. Læs hvordan man gør her. Du skriver bare igen hvis du vil høre mere! http://www.lisaliseblog.com/2011/07/discount-solution-two-minute-honey-mask.html
Anette said…
1000 tak Lise.
Anonymous said…
Went to a cosmetics event ,well qualified speaker said parabens are very safe unfortunately someone did a rubbish study and bad-mouthed them. Today they still suffer. Am glad you enlightened me/us a bit more.
Lise M Andersen said…
@Anette - Du er noget så velkommen

@Anonymous - I hear you. Somehow it seems scaremongers have gotten such a foothold on parabens that everyone is afraid to touch them. A lot of these people also say 'I don't trust anything I can't pronounce', to which I ask 'So, where does that leave parabens?'