To keep health and beauty products, such as cosmetics, soaps, and lotions, safe for human use and effective, preservatives and other chemicals are added. However, in recent years the safety of some of these ingredients, despite decades of use, has been questioned, especially by companies selling all natural products. Here’s a look at three common ingredients called into question and what scientific studies say about their safety.
Parbens, including ethylparaben, propylparaben, and butylparaben, act as a preservative not only in cosmetics, but also in foods. This common preservative added to hundreds of cosmetic products can be absorbed into the body through the skin obagi serum. There’s growing concern that parabens may be linked to cancer because of a 2004 study in the “Journal of Applied Toxicology” that reported finding breast tumors with parabens. However, parabens in the body is not a new discovery, so finding it in tumors does not mean it caused the cancer. Studies following the 2004 study failed to show that parabens actually cause cancer, leading the FDA to still consider this a safe and effective preservative.
Sulfates are mostly found in cleaning agents such as shampoos and toothpaste. It’s also found in food and water. The sulfates are the cause of the lather created by soaps, but also work as a surfactant. As a surfactant, sulfates remove dirt and grease. Some claim that sulfates can cause cancer. Concerns over sulfates have led it to be extensively studied. And like parabens, these studies have not resulted in a cancer connection. In fact, the FDA, American Cancer Society, and governmental health organizations around world have stated that although sulfates can irritate the skin and eyes, it is considered a safe cleaning agent and not a carcinogen.
Triclosan is another preservative added to cosmetics to prevent the growth of bacteria and fungi. Its effectiveness is without question and has even shown to prevent gingivitis when used in toothpaste. However, its safety is a bit of a mix bag. Studies have shown triclosan may increase the risk of producing antibiotic resistant bacteria and in animal studies has shown to be a hormone disrupter. What this means for humans is unclear however, but it has gotten the attention of the FDA and EPA which called for more studies and a final review set for 2013. This extensive review of all the research regarding triclosan and human health will determine if changes in the regulation of triclosan will be required to protect human health.