In an attempt to move towards healthier skincare options, most people start looking for paraben free skincare brands without necessarily even knowing what parabens are or what the term means. As the list of paraben free skin care products gets longer, it is important know what parabens do, how to look for them, and why you want to avoid them.
Parabens are a widely used class of preservatives that can be found in virtually all types of skincare products - makeup, lotion, shampoo, toothpaste, etc. (They are also found in some foods). Although there are many different ways to preserve formulas naturally, parabens have been used for their efficacy, broad spectrum results, and generally non-irritating qualities. Most of the studies that were done to determine whether or not parabens were safe to use were done in single exposure studies - meaning one type of paraben in one type of product. From these tests they were generally deemed as safe. As use has become more wide spread, and the list of products they are used in grows, the amount of parabens a person is exposed to on a daily basis can be huge. This is where the toxicity comes in, and women are especially vulnerable.
Parabens are believed to disrupt hormone function by mimicking estrogen, and increasing estrogen production. Known as endocrine disruptors, paraben toxicity can interfere with hormone function on all levels. Parabens have been linked to both breast cancer, and reproductive issues. As the case numbers for all of these issues rises, it is paramount to be educated.
In our opinion, seeking paraben free products is super important. Any green beauty routine should be able to eliminate parabens from the products you use. The most common types of parabens found in cosmetics are methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, isoproplyparaben, and isobutylparaben. Read your labels and do your research!
Many companies who have removed parabens from their formulations, and now market themselves as paraben free skin care lines still use other synthetic preservatives that are also starting to come into question. Phenoxyethanol is one of the most common, it is derived from ether alcohol, but it has been shown to contain carcinogenic chemicals. Sodium benzoate and ethylhexylgyverin are two other ‘natural’ preservatives that are commonly use, but both have their own drawbacks.
We prefer products containing ingredients that are minimally processed, and work naturally to preserve. When you are working with purely natural plant based oils, many of them have their own built in preservative system because they contain natural anti-fungal and antibacterial oils. Essential oils like rosemary, grapefruit, tea tree, lime, lavender and many more all work well as preservatives. Both coconut oil and castor oil would be examples of this as well. Vitamin E is also commonly used as a natural preservative.
We get asked a lot of questions on this subject so we’ve added a little Q & A to help clear things up even further regarding our eco friendly skincare products…
How do you make a paraben free body cream?
As mentioned above there are some great natural preservative systems. Green chemistry is becoming more sophisticated and the options continue to grow. A lotion or cream consists of oil and water, which together can grow bacteria. This mix of materials is where preservatives become the most necessary. Any paraben free cream faces the same challenge, whether it be paraben free hand lotion or paraben free face moisturizer, they all need a preservative system. We chose to formulate a Balm (which is 100% oil based) in order to not have to use any ingredients to specifically preserve. Our essential oils work to naturally extend shelf life even though we don’t really need them to.
As paraben free lotion brands are becoming more common due to consumer demand, the preservative elements are becoming cleaner and more sophisticated. Some of the best paraben free lotion formulations might include grapefruit seed extract, rosemary extract, alcohol, and vitamin E to preserve. As always, read and know, your labels!
What is the best paraben free moisturizer for dry skin?
As the paraben free moisturizer list grows there are many options. Both lotions and balms work wonders to moisturize the skin. The drawback to lotion as we mentioned in the above, is that due to the mix of oil and water it does need to contain a sophisticated preservative system. You are also purchasing a product that contains water, which is inexpensive, and not necessarily what you want to pay for. That said, we always recommend people try applying a paraben free body butter or paraben free body oil formula to damp skin in order to get that magically moisturizing mix of oil and water directly on your skin.
As added precaution, should I use a paraben and sulfate free body lotion? Or a paraben and sulfate free face moisturizer?
Introducing the question of sulfates becomes a little more complicated because sulfate is an overarching name for mineral salts that contain sulfur. They aren’t considered as dangerous as parabens, and have not been linked to cancer in the same way. There are many kinds of sulfates, but the ones you see in skincare the most often are sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and sodium laureth sulfate (SLES). Sulfates are primarily used as a cleansing agent because they help remove oil. They aren’t as prevalent in lotions and moisturizers as they are in other beauty products.
There are naturally occurring sulfates that occur in ingredients like coconut oil and palm oil, and then there are the synthetic ones that can be made from petroleum oil. You primarily want to avoid harsh sulfates like SLS and SLES because they work against your skins natural biome and may cause irritation. Sulfates also work as the foaming agents that make your soap foamy - which, for whatever reason, we are conditioned to think makes us cleaner. Sudsy soap, foamy toothpaste, bubbly bath - this is where sulfates most commonly exist, and they don’t make you cleaner.
Sulfates can be irritating and are truly not necessary. If you are scrubbing your face and body clean with harsh petroleum based sulfates you are probably working against everything nature intended.
How do I keep it simple?
To make it all a lot easier, we believe if people looked for products with a simple list of plant based ingredients they would be better off. There is a lot of chemistry involved in skin care, and the approach for us is always that simple is best. The best paraben free body lotion could be something as pure as shea butter, or mango butter. You don’t really need a paraben free anti wrinkle cream, and an eye cream, and a skin cream, etc. All of a sudden you’ll end up with 20 different products just for moisturizing.
Our blend for The Balm was formulated to be clean, pure, safe and able to be used in a multitude of ways - minimizing the need for more stuff, more waste, and more money down the drain.
We wouldn't be anywhere without the amazing support and feedback we get from our community. Here’s a few words from one of our most recent fans. Thank you! We appreciate and love you all!
“This is my absolute favorite skin care product ever! Over the past year or so I have been trying to replace my regular skin care products with non-toxic natural skin care products. I have had a difficult time finding something that I love. Once I tried Nucifera I was hooked! I love it first and foremost most because I know it’s so good for my skin. It’s all natural and has minimal ingredients. I also love the way it smells and feels on my skin. I feel like I’m glowing, in a non-greasy way, and that my skin feels soft and wonderful. This also has become my new go-to gift for my close friends and family. They have all loved it as well.”
- Brent A