Read the Label!

I confess to be a “bottle” addict, and used to spend hours on hand at pharmacies looking at products. More often than not, I would buy skincare products based on its marketing efforts, packaging etc…the superficial consumer. 

I now do the exact opposite. I read my labels very carefully, and really care about what I put on my skin. Why? Simple – your skin is the largest organ in your body, and about 60% of what you put on your skin gets directly absorbed into your organs and bloodstream. 

There are two sides to this: first is to ensure that harmful substances are not present, and secondly, to determine what ingredients (if any) work. Both of these steps are equally important if you want to be a smart consumer.

I will utilise this platform to share with you what I know about ingredients. 

Today, let’s start with the most well known devil: Paraben.

Paraben is probably the most widely used ingredient in skincare and cosmetics since the 1950s. Its main function is to act as a preservative to prevent bacteria growth. About 85% of products sold contain paraben. There are four types of parabens: methylparaben, butylparaben, ethylparaben and propylparaben. They exist in your body lotion, shampoo, lipstick etc.

So, what’s wrong with paraben? Since the 1990s, research have been conducted whereby paraben has been identified in biopsy samples of breast tumours. Paraben is deemed to be a xenoestrogen, which means it mimics estrogen (the main female hormone) in the body. Results show that paraben is linked to breast cancer and reproductive issues, including sterilisation in males, hormone imbalance and early puberty in children). 

Whilst some scientists claim that these results are statistically too small to be conclusive, I think the best tactic is to avoid it. Products are increasingly willing to label paraben (or to say they don’t use it). 

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