If you go to the store to purchase your favorite healthcare product and notice a new and improved, “natural” or organic version that contains environmentally friendly materials, don’t be alarmed. In response to consumer concern and because it's economically prudent to do so, many companies are jumping on the natural and organic bandwagon — even major companies that, a few decades ago, boasted about their petrochemical ways -- are removing chemicals such as parabens from their products and replacing them with natural alternatives.
What are Parabens?
Not everyone is aware of parabens, but they are a daily part of most people’s lives. There are four main parabens found in most paraben-containing products: butyl paraben, propyl paraben, para-hydroxybenzoic acid and ethyl paraben. They are mixed with food to add color and prevent the food from spoiling. In addition to food, parabens can also be found in personal hygiene products such as deodorants, toothpastes, makeup and shampoo.
Hypo-Allergenic and Anti-Bacterial
If there is one thing that we do not want near our skin or inside our bodies, it is bacteria. Fortunately, parabens prevent this, which is why they can be found in things that are normally applied to our face and body or foods that we eat. According to Dr. Arthur Rich, many cosmetics contain parabens because they are affordable and extremely effective as antiseptic preservatives. Additionally, parabens rarely cause allergic reactions, which is why many people around the world do not mind using products with parabens.
Methylparaben is a paraben that can be found in facial products. Unfortunately, if you apply methylparaben and expose yourself to ultraviolet rays at the same time, your skin can age terribly. This is ironic, because methylparaben is the paraben that is normally found in facial products that purport to slow and reverse the skin aging process.
According to Live Naturally, a laboratory study has shown that frequent use of parabens can increase estrogen in the body, potentially affecting the reproductive organs of women. A similar study found that some men who use products containing parabens have lower sperm counts and less testosterone than men who do not use products with parabens.
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Mike Jones is an Atlanta native who has been writing professionally since 2000. He has written a number of entertainment, health and how-to articles for online publications such as eHow and Answerbag. He holds a master's degree in journalism from Regent University.