2021 Paraben-Free Skincare Guide

2021 Paraben-Free Skincare Guide

1. What are parabens?

2. Why are parabens dangerous?

a. Who is most affected by parabens?

3. Which products contain parabens?

a. Other skincare hazards

4. The best paraben-free skincare products

 

Beauty products are becoming more and more advanced; this means the category is brimming with a steady stream of buzzword ingredients, making it hard to know what’s worth exploring further. A few of these buzzwords have received negative press; parabens—a kind of preservative—has probably taken the most heat. A number of studies and articles suggest that they can harm our skin and our body.

We’ve all seen the flood of “paraben-free” labels in the beauty aisles, but do you actually know what parabens are and why you should avoid them? We’re here to break it down for you—from why parabens are in our products in the first place to why they’ve earned a bad reputation in recent years. Here’s your guide to everything you need to know about parabens.



1. What are parabens?


Skincare products need to have a long shelf life, especially when you consider their journey from the factory to the store to your bathroom shelf. Enter parabens: a group of preservatives first introduced in the 1950s and used in many personal grooming and household products to keep them germ-free (usually identified as methylparaben, propylparaben, ethylparaben and butylparaben on the ingredient list). Their job is to increase the lifespan of a personal-care product by preventing bacteria or fungus from growing.

While these preservatives allow products to survive for months, even years, in our bathroom cabinet, there has been a lot of talk about skincare that’s free of them—but what exactly are the health risks? Are parabens bad for you? In short, maybe. Perhaps one of the most concerning aspects of parabens is that in high doses they can mimic estrogen in the body, making them possible endocrine (glands that make hormones) disruptors.



2. Why are parabens dangerous?


Parabens are widely available in cosmetics, skincare, pharmaceutical and food products, so the question remains: If they’re so prevalent, why are parabens bad? Well, it’s complicated. For some people, especially folks with a compromised skin barrier (like people with eczema), parabens can sensitize the skin, causing an allergic reaction; it may manifest as a flare-up or redness, soreness, dryness or swelling.

Another alarming study found that parabens don’t just help preserve products; they’re also easily absorbed in the skin. Researchers found this to be true and discovered that parabens stay in your body tissues and fluids. They’ve also been found to elevate cellular-level damage caused by UVB exposure, which has the potential to increase your risk of developing skin cancer.

However, the biggest argument against parabens is that they can mimic and alter our hormones (which is why they are referred to as “endocrine disruptors”). In other words, these chemicals can mimic the hormone estrogen. The main paraben ingredients to avoid that have been linked to binding estrogen receptors in the body are ethylparaben, butylparaben and propylparaben.


a. Who is most affected by parabens?


A number of studies on the topic show that women are most at risk for experiencing the negative effects of parabens. Because parabens are believed to disrupt hormone function, they can trigger an increase in breast cell division and the growth of tumours. A well-known 2004 British study detected parabens in samples of cancerous breast tissue. Other studies have also hypothesized that parabens may contribute to fertility and reproductive issues because of the imbalance of estrogen.



3. Which products contain parabens?


The common culprits run the gamut from your go-to skincare (moisturizer, serum and sunscreen) to your most coveted cosmetics (lipstick, blush and foundation) to your in-shower heroes (body wash, shampoo and conditioner). But don’t panic: The percentage of preservatives in a formulation is generally very small. That said, there are so many good paraben-free options out there that are kinder to your skin, hair and scalp and don’t contain the strong ingredients that can disrupt your body’s natural balance.


a. Other skincare hazards


The skin is the largest and one of the most important organs, so you should be mindful of what you’re putting on it. Besides parabens, there are a few other “nasties” that you may want to steer clear of because they can be damaging to your skin and your health.

  • Alcohol:
    It may be commonly found in products such as hairspray and toners, but it’s about time you banish alcohol from your grooming routine. It can harm your skin barrier, stripping it of oils, which can make oily skin even worse. If you’re looking to control shine and treat acne, scan ingredient lists for salicylic acid, sorbic acid and benzoic acid instead.
  • Synthetic fragrances:
    Artificial scents are made with hundreds of different ingredients that are not listed on the label so you’re never really sure what you’re being exposed to. On a surface level, they can cause skin irritation, allergies, contact dermatitis and hives.
  • Sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS) and sodium laureth sulfate (SLES):
    Sulphates are salts from sulphuric acid and are detergents that cause products like cleansers and shampoos to foam and lather. The problem is, they strip the skin (and hair) of its natural oils, which causes dryness, irritation and, for some, allergic reactions.



4. The best paraben-free skincare products


If you’re looking for safe skincare, you’ve come to the right place. Vichy's promise is to offer effective products that have been clinically tested, with derm-grade actives and hypoallergenic formulas that have been tested on sensitive skin. If you’re ready to pare back on parabens and embrace cleaner formulations, keep reading to find out about our best paraben-free skincare products that deliver results.

  • The best probiotic based serum
    A healthy, balanced microbiome equals healthy, balanced skin, and the best way to achieve this is with probiotic fractions and niacinamide serum. Enter Vichy Minéral 89 Probiotic Fractions. This next generation of the iconic serum supports the microbiome using probiotic fractions grown in Vichy volcanic water with vitamin B3. After just four weeks, you’ll notice a boost in radiance and elasticity and a reduction in fine lines.
  • The best hyaluronic acid serum
    Douse your skin in moisture with Vichy Minéral 89 Face Serum with Hyaluronic Acid, Canada’s number one serum. This minimal formula (only 11 ingredients) features an 89% concentration (hence the name) of Vichy volcanic water, which is naturally mineral-rich, plus moisturizing hyaluronic acid and glycerine for long-lasting hydration.
  • The best anti-wrinkle hyaluronic acid serum
    Just a few drops of this serum—applied to the forehead, eye area and around the lips—and you’ll notice skin’s moisture levels skyrocket. The plumping formula contains 1.5% pure hyaluronic acid plus vitamin C and peptides. After six weeks, the potent serum reduces wrinkles by 47% and fine lines by 60%.
  • The best eye serum
    Vichy Minéral 89 Eyes is a lightweight, non-sticky gel that combines caffeine, hyaluronic acid, shea butter, glycerine and Vichy volcanic water for a concentrated dose of undereye brightening and tightening.
  • The best vitamin c serum ampoules
    Each Vichy LiftActiv Specialist Peptide-C Ampoule contains just 10 ingredients and 10% pure vitamin C as well as peptides and natural hyaluronic acid. It delivers a high level of effectiveness against wrinkles and sagging while also illuminating, lifting and smoothing skin.
  • The best vitamin c serum
    Vichy LiftActiv Vitamin C Brightening Skin Corrector is a high performer thanks to its 15% pure ascorbic acid, plus hyaluronic acid and vitamin E make for a mix of hydration and antioxidants so powerful that it helps lighten acne scars, smooth wrinkles and protect skin from free-radical damage.
  • The best sunscreen for face
    The best sunscreen for you is the one you’ll use every single day. Streamline your routine and use an SPF 30 in your moisturizer, like Vichy LiftActiv Collagen Specialist Peptide-C SPF 30. Not only is it an impressive anti-aging moisturizer but it offers broad-spectrum sun protection—and of course it's paraben-free.



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