Ingredient of the Week

a Salon Naturals blog

Why are Parabens Still in Use?

Parabens have been used as a microbial preservative since the early 1920’s.  For many years, they have been strongly suspected as having the potential to create health problems, yet they are more commonly used in today’s manufacturing world than ever before.  It is estimated that tens of thousands of cosmetic, personal care products, foods and pharmaceuticals contain this toxic ingredient. 

There are several different names by which parabens can be identified.  The most common start with propyl, butyl, methy, ethyl, or iso and in most cases, all of these end with “paraben.”  However, new INCI names for ingredients are often created when public concern for a commonly used ingredient name grows to a level that affects buying habits.  With this in mind, always conduct a search for unfamiliar ingredients at www.cosmeticdatabase.com to ensure their safety.

Researchers from England recently discovered the presence of parabens in eighteen of twenty samples of breast tumors tested.  Furthermore, these same tests strongly indicate that the origin could, with a reasonable degree of certainty, be traced to absorption into the body through a topically applied product.

For many years, the scientific community dismissed the possible link between parabens and breast cancer.  This theory was widely considered to be the self-induced worry of irrational and paranoid minds.  Yet in 1998, it was firmly and conclusively established that parabens create estrogenic-type activities in not only mice and rats in a lab setting, but also in human breast cancer cells.   The importance of this discovery is that the vast majority of breast cancers respond to estrogen.  Suddenly, scientists began giving more serious consideration to the link between parabens and breast cancer in women.

These types of discoveries have led to significant and potentially lifesaving conclusions.  Even prior to these scientific realizations, it was known that parabens were easily absorbed by the body.  However, the assumption was made that they were slowly eliminated from the system through the urine.  The discovery of intact parabens in tumor tissue has completely altered how these chemicals must be viewed.  Scientists now realize that parabens are not only absorbed when present in products applied topically, but they have the potential to accumulate in breast tissue in particular.

It is also notable that consumption of foods containing parabens poses less risk to the health of the body than the use of products intended for the skin.  Parabens contained in food are degraded and lose their most harmful characteristics during the digestive process.

Common defenses for the use of parabens in personal care products always include the fact that parabens make up only a very small percentage of any given formulation.  While on the surface, this truth may seem to dilute the argument against parabens, it ignores several important considerations.  Even twelve years after these important scientific discoveries, a very high percentage of common personal care products contain one or more parabens.  The average woman uses no fewer than a dozen products on a daily basis.  The presence of this cumulative usage has the potential to bring exposure levels far beyond any that could be considered benign or meaningless. 

Cosmetics and personal care products require the inclusion of preservatives in their formulas to protect against the growth of bacteria, which in itself would create significant health risks.  While there are a handful of products that are preservative free or use only natural preservative systems, these typically require refrigeration and still have only a very short shelf-life.  That noted, manufacturers have a wide range of options in selecting the preservatives used in their products.  The evidence against parabens is overwhelming and consumers should insist on products that use other, less toxic preservatives in their formulations.

April 8, 2010 Posted by | Ingredient of the Week - Yucky! | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Aloe Vera (Aloe barbadensis)

Aloe vera has been recognized as a power nutrient for more than 4000 years.  Aloe is a herb that is a member of the Lily family and shares a close resemblance to the cactus.  It contains more than 75 nutrients, which include 19 of the 20 amino acids required by the human body for good health.  Eight of these aminos are not produced by the body – aloe contains all but one of these.  Among the other most prevalent nutrients are:

  • Two different hormones which assist with healing wounds and reducing inflammation, along with stimulating the growth of new, healthier cells.
  • A cellulose based substance called Lignin, which assists Aloe in penetrating the skin.  This allows the soothing properties of the plant to reach damaged skin areas and strip toxic materials that may be restricting blood flow. 
  • The Salicylic Acid found in Aloe Vera serves as a pain killer that boasts anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties.  The four steroids found in the plant also have anti-inflammtory, antiseptic and analgesic properties. 
  • Aloe Vera contains nine different vitamins:  A, C & E serve as antioxidants & neutralise free radicals; B1, 3, 5, 6 promote amino acid metabolism
  • This miracle plant also contains numerous minerals, including calcium copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium, phosphorous, sodium and zinc.  It is also currently the only known source for vitamin B12.

The list above is by no means, exhaustive, but it should provide a broad overview of the myriad of health benefits found in the Aloe Vera plant.

Aloe Vera is manufactured and marketed through numerous methods – some of which can undermine its potency and effectiveness.  These plants are not considered “mature” until they are four years old.  Before selecting a product made with Aloe Vera, it is important to educate yourself on the manufacturer’s policies regarding when the plant is harvested.  Also inquire as to whether or not the plant is derived from organic sources.  Unquestionably, this will impact the potency and to what degree the benefits are effective.

If you have stayed with me through the “History of Aloe Vera,” let’s move on to the specific benefits of this amazing plant to both the hair and the skin.  First of all, hair care cannot be considered separately from skin care. Obviously, one of the requirements for beautiful, vibrant, and strong, resilient  hair is a healthy scalp.  There are five widely recognized types of Aloe Vera.  Aloe Barbadensis is the most often used for health purposes and it is this species that we use as the foundational ingredient (instead of water) in all of our hair care formulations.  It is the synergistic quality of Aloe that is responsible for the numerous benefits of the plant to improved health, skin, hair and overall wellbeing.

Aloe vera benefits the scalp in numerous ways.  Firstly, it heals injured tissues and is an excellent remedy for abrasions, cuts, eczema and other conditions.  It encourages the skin to produce increased collagen and discourage the formulation of fine lines.  It is easily absorbed into the skin – even more easily than water.  Aloe Vera is equally beneficial for the hair.  It aids in thickening the hair cuticle and has been used for centuries as a hair conditioner.  Recent research studies even suggest that regular use of Aloe Vera on the hair can diminish hair loss, while it stimulates the growth of new hair.  Finally, it serves as an excellent treatment for scalp conditions such as irritation and redness. 

Today’s scientists refer to Aloe Vera as a diverse mixture of antioxidants, antibiotics, cell stimulators, scar inhibitors, anti-inflammatories, astringents, and pain inhibitors.  Clearly this nutritional jackpot serves as an excellent addition to your internal health, as well as exceptional support for strong, healthy hair and skin.

New and exciting benefits through the use of Aloe Vera are constantly being discovered as researchers delve deeper into this amazing plant.  The aloe vera used in our products is certified organic and processed according to stringent standards that allow it to maintain its full potency and effectiveness.  Substituting Aloe Vera as the primary base in our shampoos and conditioners instead of water is firmly supported by research in the medical and wellness communities.  Furthermore, older, more established cultures embrace the daily use of this herb so completely that we are inspired by their testimonies as to its effectiveness.  We hope you will research further this beauty and wellness miracle provided by nature for our use and incorporate it not only into your hair care routine, but into your wellness-based lifestyle also.  Visit salonnaturalsonline.com to learn more about Aloe Vera and our use of this natural powerhouse.  If you have any questions or comments, please share – we love learning for our readers’ own uses and experiences.

March 3, 2010 Posted by | Ingredient of the Week - Yummy! | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment