What is a paraben? Advertisers assault us with what should and shouldn't be in our beauty products, but leave it up to consumers to figure out what it all means. Parabens, also listed on ingredient labels as methylparaben, propylparaben or butylparaben, are preservatives that are quickly losing favor with consumers.
Used in many foods, pharmaceutical products and cosmetic preparations, parabens are thought to cause health problems. A 2004 study published by Dr. Philippa Darbre in the Journal of Applied Toxicology has shown parabens to be present in breast tumors. Darbre, of the University of Reading in England, has said that doesn't prove parabens are responsible for the cancer, but their presence justifies further investigation.
Though no direct link has been found, it makes many wonder. The Food and Drug Administration's website indicates that parabens are considered safe when used in cosmetics at levels up to 25 percent, but in response to consumer demand, many cosmetic companies are playing it safe and removing parabens from their products.
"Aveda removed parabens from their products in 2010," says Hope Hall, a salon artisan and educator at Mango on Libbie Avenue.
Crystal Rivenbark is a Midlothian-based stylist and cosmetology instructor.