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How to Find Paraben Free Products

written by: Lindsay Evans•edited by: Donna Cosmato•updated: 4/15/2011

The group of chemical preservatives referred to as parabens have been linked to some health concerns, prompting many conscious companies to eliminate parabens from their products. Here is how to ensure your shampoo, lotion, cosmetics, and other personal care products are paraben free.

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    What Are Parabens?

    Parabens are a group of chemical preservatives often added to increase shelf life in personal care products. You can identify parabens when reading a product's ingredient list by looking for ingredients such as methylparaben, butylparaben, or any other ingredient that contains "paraben" in its name.

    Inexpensive and easy to come by, parabens are used very commonly in many products you use everyday. However, due to increased customer concern over health concerns associated with parabens, some companies are choosing to replace parabens with alternative ingredients.

    Why should parabens be avoided? The basis behind the concern over paraben use comes from a 2004 study that identified parabens in breast cancer tumors. Follow up studies have shown parabens to act as weak estrogen mimickers. As with other chemicals that can disrupt the endocrine system, parabens may be contributing factors to increased breast cancer risk.

    Although much of the evidence about potential concerns with parabens is only suggestive, it is known that parabens are readily absorbed into the bloodstream. Since these chemicals easily enter the body, why take the risk that they may be causing your body damage? Find and use paraben free products instead.

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    Paraben Free Products

    Parabens are often found in products such as shampoo, conditioner, body wash, face soap, cosmetics, deodorants, and personal lubricants. Many personal care companies, particularly eco-conscious companies, have listened to consumers' calls for paraben free products. Consumers looking for all natural, toxin free products now have a growing number of products and companies to choose from.

    The most important step to follow when you look for paraben free products is to read the ingredient list on any personal care product before you buy. A product's label may say "all natural" or "made with organic ingredients" and still contain parabens or other ingredients you may wish to avoid.

    Using the Skin Deep Database is a fast and easy way to check products online for parabens and other questionable ingredients. A staggering number of products - from sunscreen to lotion to shampoo and more - are included in the Skin Deep Database, the powerful consumer safety tool brought to you by the Environmental Working Group. You can type in the name of a product or company and find information such as complete ingredient lists (with associated health hazard scores) and whether the company has signed the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.

    Another sure fire way to avoid parabens is to make simple, natural beauty products at home.

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    Resources, What's the Fuss about Parabens?

    The Dangers of Parabens, by David Steinman,