The Skin We’re In – Part I


By: Melanie Melugin, Going Green with Noah

In a society in which we are obsessed with how our skin looks, whether it is through the use of tanning beds, the sun, makeup, wrinkle removers, surgery, etc., we seem to be a bit self-consumed on our outward appearance without pausing to consider the inward effects of our obsession.

Our skin is the largest organ in our body consuming about 20 square feet, yet the one that we seem to be the least concerned with.  It absorbs approximately 60% of the products that we put on it!

Enter parabens.

Look at the back of almost any body care product and you will probably notice parabens somewhere in the ingredient list (ie. Methylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, etc.)  Parabens are the most widely used preservatives used in body care and cosmetic products.  They are found in lotions, shampoos, conditioners, sunscreens, toothpaste and even found as food additives. Parabens are even found in infant products, such as Johnson & Johnson and Orajel toothpastes.

Although the intentions of parabens are good, as they are meant to deter microbial growth and to maintain the integrity of products from distribution to the shelf, they can have some potentially harmful effects.

Did you know that the FDA does not regulate cosmetic products?  This frightening question leads to the fact that the cosmetics industry can use any ingredient they choose, outside of certain prohibited ingredients, and not have to announce it!   With parabens being such a controversial issue as to the effects, the use is continued until proven otherwise.

In all fairness, there is no substantiated proof that parabens can cause cancer, but according to a 2004 study published in the Journal of Applied Toxicology, parabens were found in the examination of breast tumors.  Did the parabens cause the cancer? We are unsure, as the study did not continue to analyze that question.

With cancer rates on the rise, are you willing to take that risk?  In our home, we do have some products that still contain parabens, but we have taken the first of many baby steps on becoming more green, beginning with the elimination of most products in our home that contain parabens.  If you learn how to read labels, it really is easy to make this change with each purchase that you make at the store!

Next time, just look and think.  Am I willing to risk the health of myself, my family, my child?


  1. 1
    Valerie says:

    I actually threw away a lot of personal care products yesterday. Still have a lot of products with toxins, but have committed to not buying any more!

  2. 2


    That is the first step!!! Make sure to recycle that plastic though!

    Going Green with Noah

  3. 3


    Thanks for the 411! I had no idea. As I am cleaning my house this weekend I will be sure to look at all my stuff. So do you have any suggestions for products that do not have this parabene in it? Things that you curently use?


  4. 4


    I use RenPure Organics shampoo and conditioner. It works just fine after I put a chlorine filter on my shower head. For soap, Kiss My Face has a 100% olive oil soap that I use. Most products will put on the front label “paraben free” if they are without the nasty chemicals. Sometimes the items may be found in the organic section of a “regular” grocery store. Burt’s Bees is another line of products that do not contain parabens. (I’ve used their sunscreen and been quite pleased.) Look at the media kit on their website for more information.

    For folks who may be allergic to lanolin or formaldehyde, check out Vanicream for soap, shampoo and conditioner. If you can’t find the items on the shelves of your stores, ask a pharmacist. The items do not need a prescription, but the pharmacists can order them if they are willing.

    Hope this helps,

  5. 5


    Here are some products I use:

    Lotion – Lubriderm
    Sunscreen – Alba (Whole Foods)
    Shampoo / Conditioner – 365 from Whole Foods
    Face Soap – Noxema
    Bar Soap – Dove

    There are a lot of name brands that choose to be safe and not use parabens. Just make sure you look at the inactive ingredients. Typically, the parabens (preservatives) are about midway down through the end.

    Hope this Helps!


  6. 6
    Valerie says:

    I went a whole other way with it and use organic coconut oil lotion, soaps (shower and hand) and hair treatment from Tropical Traditions and EcoStore USA. Shampoo and conditioner are from Amazon and are rated 0-1 on the Cosmetic Database. I can’t remember the name of them but both have olive oil and coconut in them. Surprisingly, I do not smell of cocnut anywhere. Makeup from Ecco Bella and Orglamix. I have yet to change tooothpaste and deodorant!

  7. 7

    Thanks for sharing the great info–we’ve switched to lots of natural/organic products, but it’s sad that we didn’t do that (or really look into it that much) until I became pregnant. Wish we had earlier!!

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