I’m Gonna Wash Those Parabens Right Outta My Hair

Since I have been working at Care2, I have read many articles about these things called parabens. In my local health food store, and in magazine ads as well, I have seen claims of things having no parabens. Suddenly, parabens—or the lack thereof—were everywhere.

So what’s the deal? Here’s the full scoop. In short, they are a preservative, and while the FDA has deemed them safe, they have been proven to interfere with hormones and have been linked to breast cancer. Heard enough? Yeah, me too.

Now six months ago I might not have even taken notice, to be honest. I admittedly have been cavalier in the past about things like that. But ever since my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, well, I take these things a little more seriously.

The insidious thing about parabens is that they are in just about everything: Lotions, soap, conditioner, shaving gel—even toothpaste.

So what’s a girl to do? I consider myself fairly low-maintenance (I don’t use any hairspray or mousse or anything, and my makeup is limited to mascara, powder and lip balm) and I’ve always tended toward the more natural beauty products anyway, mostly because I’m not fond of the perfume-y smell of a lot of the more mainstream stuff. Still, after I learned more about parabens and started going through my stuff I was shocked to find that at least half of it had parabens in it. And it wasn’t necessarily in the things I thought it would be.

My toothpaste was spared, as it was Tom’s of Maine brand and paraben-free. I was shocked to discover that my beloved Rosemary Mint shampoo and lotion from Aveda (a company known for its Earth-friendly mission) has parabens, but the conditioner does not. And my Dove deodorant, which has been my favorite for years but I figured would not pass the test, was fine. The pricey Bliss High Intensity Hand Cream that I adore, sadly, had to go because it is chock full of parabens.

So, let this be a lesson to me: Don’t judge a beauty product by its recyclable packaging or its high price. When it comes to Aveda, I definitely will choose its products on a case-by-case basis from now on. Which reminds me, I need to take a cue from fellow Care2 blogger Green Girl and get Aveda’s mascara, sans petroleum distillates, polyethylene, propylparaben and phenoxyethanol.

It was slightly painful to throw away all that expensive stuff, but the joy of replacing it with something that won’t give me cancer was well worth it. (By the way, Whole Foods has a whole line of store-brand shampoos and conditioners and lotions that are 100 percent paraben-free, and one of them is Herbal Mint, which makes me and my hair very happy.)

And as soon as my mom’s hair grows back (she’s just finished chemo), I am totally going to replace all of her shampoo with paraben-free stuff too.

Saving the Earth one beauty product at a time.


Michele Wilkinson

Thank you

Dene G.
Dene G.5 years ago

@Vicky P - parabens are NOT a "sympathetic" form of oestrogen! Wherever you get your information from, I suggest you don't use that source again.

Vicky Pitchford
Vicky P5 years ago

Parabens are a sympathetic form of estrogen, since FDA doesn't always look out for people, you should lessen the use of it, there are plenty of products that don't have it nowadays

Chris R.
Chris R6 years ago

Thanks Jana!~

K s Goh
KS Goh6 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Dene G.
Dene G.7 years ago

Wrong, wrong, wrong! Parabens have NOT been linked to ANY form of cancer. If you don't take my word for it, just check out any of the major breast cancer research web sites - make sure they are RESEARCH sites. Every one will have a statement to the effect that parabens have NOT been linked to cancer. This is an internet myth - and you are just passing it on, and misleading even more people.
The study that claimed to have detected parabens in human breast tumours was deply flawed, and it did not prove they were present, despite the claims, and even the authors of this study stated in their conclusions that a link was not proven.

It's a catchy title for the blog - but the information is wrong - sorry! I am more than happy to justify my comments in more detail, and answer any questions.

I was sorry to read about the lady who is allergic to parabens. I am sure it is little consolation, but this is extremely rare.

Alysia S.
Alysia S.7 years ago

I know this is an older post but, I just wanted to add my two cents:-) I found out about ten years ago that I was allergic to Parabens and it has been so hard to find products that don't contain any (did you know it is in food too?!). Thanks for posting your findings and beat of luck to your mother! Mothers are special people.

Alysia S.
Alysia S.7 years ago

I found out about ten years ago that I was allergic to Parabens and it has been so hard to find products that don't contain any (did you know it is in food too?!). Thanks for posting your findings and beat of luck to your mother! Mothers are special people.

Maria S.
Maria S7 years ago

Thanks for the info. I try to buy organic which isn't that easy with most products here in Greece. But since reading your article I've been checking my favorite products. I found a couple of them had paraben so had to throw them away. Thanks once again for sharing.

Tracy Schaal
Tracy Schaal8 years ago

Thanks so much for sharing--My hairstylist told me the other day that Aveda was getting rid of parabens--lets hope so!
I also hope your mom makes a full recovery! :o)
Best wishes,