17 January 2013

Beauty Baking: Preservatives and Parabens Unraveled

Its been ages since I wrote my first Beauty Baking post so if you want to refresh yourself then take a peek *here*. The basic idea behind Beauty Baking is learning to use products that are packed full of lovely, fresh, beneficial ingredients that will actively help you achieve the effect you want from your products.

Before I start going in depth about ingredients and telling you which ones to look out for and why I wanted to write a bit about preservatives in products, why they're used and where the "dreaded" parabens come in to the equation.

Ok, so first up we have preservatives. Any product containing water will contain a preservative of some kind as if it didn't then the shelf life would be approximately 2-3 weeks before the water would begin to react with the other ingredients causing bacteria to grow and you'd find that things would go nasty and mouldy. In some cases a natural preservative will be used, one example is Lush Fair Trade Honey shampoo where over 50% of the whole product is honey. Honey is a natural preservative and one of the only liquid substances that never goes off. In some cases oils are also used to prolong the life of products, such as caster oil or jojoba oil, which will lengthen a shelf life to around 6-12 months, but the water rule still applies; if there is water in there, it will need a chemical preservative to last any long length of time.

Which brings me on to parabens! Now, I can understand why some people go all out to avoid parabens as there has been some tenuous link between high exposure to paraben and the development of breast cancer (however I hope the people who avoid using any parabens also avoid going outside during the day, brushing their teeth, eating red meat and using mobile phones because all of these things also have the same tiny risk...) and the truth of the matter is that whilst the chemicals have found to be of the same composition to those found in breast cancers, there is no scientific proof that this is due to using products containing parabens on the skin.
So if people are so scared of using a product that contains paraben preservatives then why are they still manufactured? To be blunt, it is because they are cheaper to manifacture, however they are also known to be some of the best at prolonging shelf life. Paraben chemicals are known for their great bactericidal and fungicidal properties. A common natural alternative is grapefruit seed extract however it just cannot compare.

So hopefully this has helped people understand a little more about preservatives, parabens, what they are and what they do :) Now we can get onto fun beauty baking posts in the next few weeks. Sorry for the wordy post but I just felt it needed to be said before talking a bit more about the ingredients in products.
Annie x

1 comment:

  1. I'm on the fence about the whole paraben issue. In my eyes, you can't avoid everything linked to cancer but if there's a viable alternative then what's the point in raising your risk?

    Also, as you said ingredients like jojoba oil will increase a shelf life to up to 12 months and all products should be replaced that often anyway for hygiene and effectiveness. So the parabens should be a non-issue anyway.