Spring Cleaning Carnival: Get the Parabens Out

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SPRING CLEANING BUTTON Although not necessarily part of your kitchen routine, personal products are “consumed” in a way by your skin, so they must be taken into account when trying to make positive nutritional changes (and be good to the Earth).  Today Micaela from Mindful Momma will walk you through one set of dangers and share some practical tips for getting the parabens out.

My Story:  How I Became a Mindful Momma

For those of you who don’t know me, I thought it would help to share part of the introduction to my book, Practically Green: Your Guide to Ecofriendly Decision-Making.  It pretty much captures why and how I became the ‘Mindful Momma’ that I am today.

Before I had kids, I wasn’t exactly passionate about doing what was right for the environment.  Sure, I recycled, but that was about the extent of my environmental activism.  Back then, I was interested in eating well, but I had only myself to worry about.  My salary was barely above the minimum wage, so I shopped at resale stores for cheap, funky clothing.  I had plenty of free time, and I made my own jewelry out of recycled necklaces and old buttons.

But now I have kids.  And that changes everything.

Now I buy more stuff than I ever did when I was shopping just for myself and I care about the impact those items have on the environment.  Now that I’m cooking for two growing boys, I want to know more about the food I’m buying, both the benefits and the risks.  Because of my kids, I am concerned about the amount of toxins in our lives.  While my jewelry making has been put on the back burner, I am always searching for a creative outlet to fulfill my inner need to make things myself.  And, most importantly, now that I have kids, I feel the need to make the world a better place for them to live.

For the past 3+ years, as I have been writing about green & healthy living, my goal has been to help people navigate the complex web of information on the topic and make the choices that are right for them.  No one should expect to completely overhaul their lifestyle overnight.  Instead, I hope to teach people to be mindful of the healthiest and most sustainable options and choose them whenever possible.  My goal is to inspire, not to intimidate!

A Dirty Secret:  Parabens

Parabens.  You may have heard the word bantered about, but just what are those nasty little buggers anyway?  Parabens are a class of chemicals commonly used as preservatives in cosmetics and personal care products.  They help to inhibit the growth of bacteria, yeasts and mold, giving products a longer shelf life. 

That alone sounds fine and dandy, but unfortunately there is a dark side to these antimicrobial chemicals.  Numerous studies have shown that parabens are endocrine disruptors, meaning they interfere with the normal action of hormones in the body.   Specifically, parabens mimic the hormone estrogen and have been found in breast cancer tumors. While no studies have directly linked exposure to parabens to breast cancer, we do know that parabens can be absorbed through the skin and can persist and accumulate in breast tissue.

Why are parabens allowed in beauty products?  Good question! The fact that parabens have been found in breast cancer tumors is a dirty secret in the beauty industry.  The FDA and most of the cosmetics industry insist that parabens are safe in personal care products.  However many consumer advocacy groups, including the Environmental Working Group (EWG) advise people to steer clear of these potentially harmful ingredients. 

Who to believe?  When it comes to the health of my family, I prefer to err on the side of caution.  I follow the precautionary principle which states “when an activity raises threats of harm to human health or the environment, precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause and effect relationships are not fully established scientifically.” Fortunately, many product manufacturers agree that parabens are risky business and have voluntarily removed parabens from their products.  Let’s hope that parabens are next on the FDA’s hit list and that they will eventually be banned altogether.

Next Step: Getting the Parabens Out!

Meanwhile, each and every one of us can take action to get the parabens out of our lives and out of our bodies!   Come read my follow-up post on Mindful Momma where I’ll provide practical information and ideas for getting the parabens out including:

  • What types of products contain parabens
  • How to find parabens on a product label
  • Knowing which product certifications ban parabens
  • Ideas for making your own beauty products
  • A really great giveaway!

If you’re a blogger, be sure to link up any posts you have about avoiding parabens, either by purchasing safer products or making your own.  Katie’s for this week is, of course, the Monday Mission.

Then come on over to the giveaway post at Kitchen Stewardship to find out which natural lotion holds up against nasty, cracked hands, and how you can WIN!

Next week’s Spring Cleaning carnival topic is Getting Out the Food Additives with Lenetta of Nettacow.  You can see all the carnival topics here.


Don’t miss the second half of the Get the Junk Out Carnival!  Sign up for a free email subscription or grab my reader feed. You can also follow me on Twitter or get KS for Kindle.

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38 Bites of Conversation So Far

  1. says

    Good post – I was intrigued enough to follow the link to the followup post. Thanks for sharing WHY manufacturers put parabens in products in the first place…I always wonder why they expose us to junk!

  2. Kim says

    I have terrible eczema that wrecks havoc on my hands in the winter. My poor children inherited from me as well. :( A more natural way of helping out with the dryness would be wonderful!

  3. Rebecca says

    I have eczema really bad as well as other health problems and went on a mission to get all chemicals out of my life and skin care products over the last few years. I don’t know if I am allowed to post company names but the following products I have found and use that contain no chemicals. I tell you I did quite a lot of research…
    1. make up – I like 3 different mineral makeup brands. Meow Cosmetics, Everday Minerals, and Zosimos Botanicals. I order it online and have heard that mineral make up contains a natural sunscreen. I find that it does not dry out my skin at all.
    2. face care- I use a daily moisturizer that also has a sunscreen from Devita. I cleanse my face at night with Aubrey Organics facial wash and toner. I use Real Purity’s facial moisturizer for nighttime.
    3. body lotion- I use Aubrey Organics on my body and hands, too. It does not flare my eczema, but I live in Arizona and am looking to find a more concentrated moisturizer.
    4. shampoo/conditioner- I have very thick curly hair and I use Real Purity’s chamomile shampoo and Lily of the Valley (?) conditioner.
    5. misc- I like Real Purity’s deoderant and liquid make up and blushes, too.
    Hope it is ok to list these companies. I apologize if not. I am passionate about living healthy and well and love to share my “research” with others if it will help. I also am a girly girl and want to look good, too. These companies have made the transition no problem for me. I can completely relate to the eczema Kim. It is frustrating and miserable and I have been dealing with it my whole life. Taking fish oil and cleaning up my skin care routine, as well as avoiding fabric softeners, antibacterial soaps and using a natural detergent have kept my virtually eczema free for the last 10 years!
    Hope this helps. Blessings!

  4. Julie S says

    Hi Micaela, thanks for your great natural care giveaway on Mindful Mama, and thanks to KS for introducing me to your blog! I am now a subscriber.

  5. vanessa says

    I am slowly learning about the harms of parabens and I am thankful for the info you ladies are giving to all of us!

  6. Kim says

    I’ve recently converted my personal care products, but hadn’t yet looked for paraben. Problem is, in doing so my face is breaking out horribly. Ugh. It’s plagued me my entire life. So I’m using my prescription benzoyl peroxide to help clear up again.

    • Katie says

      What a tough one to troubleshoot! Could be diet, newness in general, ??? Are you using totally natural products? I’m getting wrinkles and zits, too. It’s crappy to have both – what am I, old or young, you know? I hope you can figure out the right balance for you!

  7. Sonia says

    I have recently changed so many personal care items. It’s a shame that there is so much yucky stuff in them! My new motto, if I can’t eat it, I don’t want it on my skin!

  8. Becky says

    Wow just starting to realize what is in my food and skin care products! Thanks for the great information. I have Discoid Lupus and I need to start allpying a daily suncreen. Does anyone have a product suggestions?

  9. Kellie via Facebook says

    I was so disappointed and shocked to see methylparaben as an ingredient in whole grain corn tortillas! IN FOOD is definitely not something I was prepared for…

  10. Beth via Facebook says

    Any ideas of clean brands?? My daughter LOVES her sparkle lip gloss. Sigh. I don’t plan on buying more when it runs out. I have some good chapstick that she likes, but oh, the gloss and the sparkles! Any suggestions would be great.

  11. Lora via Facebook says

    Beth – lip balm is really easy and inexpensive to make and I add edible glitter to some for my daughter. There are loads of recipes on pinterest and other places.

  12. Lisa via Facebook says

    Beth I would be happy to share info on Ava Anderson Non-toxic or invite you to check them out via a Facebook page. They are on a mission to educate consumers and provide safe and natural alternatives. Amy, Burt’s Bees was bought out by Clorox. It is all about the ingredients–read them and understand what to avoid! :)
    Thanks for helping spread awareness, Katie!

  13. Beth via Facebook says

    Thanks! Maybe I’ll try to find some edible glitter (I wonder what those ingredients are) to add to my next batch of lip balm. Thanks for the other ideas too.

  14. Amy via Facebook says

    Lisa, I heard that BB was bought by Clorox, but it is still controlled by the original makers and scientists on the inside. Non of the ingredients in the products have changed. I do read labels :)

  15. says

    Oh! You will never believe this coincidence – I was checking out the bonuses for the upcoming bundle (my fav part of these things!) and MadeOn lotion is offering glittery lip balm!! What up?? The glitter is mica, and for now it’s only available through the bundle, so I’m not even sure if I’m allowed to say it nevertheless link to it…but be on the lookout in the next few weeks for more info! 😉 Beth Steenwyk Lora Tonne Owings Amy Haapala Murray

  16. Lisa via Facebook says

    Still, not all of Burt’s Bee’s products are non-toxic (see http://www.ewg.org/skindeep) , but yes, at least they all seem to be free of parabens. I also avoid the generic ingredient fragrance since 75% of the time they include pthalates.

  17. Amy via Facebook says

    Yep, I hear ya. I have called and emailed BB, and was told the fragrance is all from essential oils! no artificial fragrance at all.

  18. Dani via Facebook says

    Arbonne is also a paraben and pthalates free brand (there’s many more things that they DON’T put in their products too).

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