As a dad, you care about things in a different way for your young child than you do for yourself. I buy the cheapest shampoo I can find that doesn’t make me thing it is recycled dish soap and I don’t give a darn what is in it. But, when it comes to my little girl, things are different. I figure I’ve built up some immunity and other ways of dealing with the world of chemicals that pour out of your average soap bottle, but she’s my little baby, and she’s delicate, and I don’t want to be putting a bunch of junk on her delicate skin.
Still, there is a difference between doing right by your child and getting suckered into every crazy tree-hugger scare out there. Just because something isn’t organically harvested by virgin butterflies with specially coated wings doesn’t make it a bad thing. On the other hand, there are plenty of products out there using sweet innocent sounding names that are no different than the 3 for 99 cents bottles lower on the shelf. It’s kind of like those “microbrews” that are made by Coors and Budweiser. Yeah, those are delicately hand crafted in multi-million barrel quantities. As if.
Turns out there is an easy way to separate your cut-rate garden variety giant manufacturer running the cheapest combination of chemicals they can find down the conveyor belt, and thoughtfully formulated products that are gentle for your sensitive baby. If it has parabens, it is the junky mass market mix. If not, then it is likely good.
Basically, parabens are chemicals which extend the shelf-life of a product by keeping down the bacteria count. Sounds ok, right? Except we aren’t talking about normal shelf-life here, we are talking about FIVE YEARS! You want five year old shampoo? Me neither. I certainly don’t want to put it on my daughter. There’s more. Ask anyone, anywhere, who is concerned about people’s long-term health AND who is not bound by structure of having undeniable proof before they are supposed to give you an opinion and they will tell you that parabens are cancer causing chemicals. The key here is that there are a whole group of people out there who are not allowed to tell you what they know unless they have rock solid data to back it up. In this case, that means collecting years of data for thousands of people and then showing that the people who use products with parabens have higher cancer rates than those that don’t. That kind of thing just doesn’t happen over a weekend.
Here is the data you need to know. Parabens have been found in cancer tumors. Parabens are also scientifically proven to be estrogenic. Estrogenic means that they increase one of the mechanisms that cause cancer. Technically, this doesn’t add up to proof. One more fact should make this obvious to anyone who has two brain cells to rub together and doesn’t work for the cosmetics industry or politicians who get big money from the same people (I’m looking at you FDA). Parabens are not produced in the body, nor found in nature.
Allow me to connect the dots. Your body doesn’t not make parabens and there are no parabens on anything you eat or breathe. So, there is only one way they get into your body, and that is from the products you buy and put on your skin where the parabens get absorbed. From there we know that parabens are in cancer tumors. Ever hear of Vitamin C being found in cancer tumors? I didn’t think so. Technically it is possible that the parabens are just randomly somehow innocently in cancer tumors. I guess you have to decide who’s being naive.
Cancer or No Cancer, The Good Stuff Is Paraben Free
Actually, it doesn’t matter. Whether parabens are dangerous or not is moot. Parabens is the cheap way to make something. It is your proof that the company just went with the big tank of “this usually works” instead of putting some effort into it. This is true for adult and baby products, but especially for baby products where there is A LOT of concern about a baby’s sensitive skin. When designing a product for a baby you should be thinking, “What can we possibly leave out to make this product even safer and better?” If you are asking that question, you are leaving out parabens.
Now, you can sort out those products. If it is called Super Caring Mom Formula and it has propylparaben and mehtylparaben, then you know that it is actually Super Non-Caring Company Hoping to Make a Buck With a Good Name.
How to Spot Parabens
The good news is that it is easy to spot parabens. Turn the bottle around and read the ingredients. They are listed under “Inactive” or “Other” ingredients if the product has active ingredients. They will have a chemistry word in front of the word paraben. Common ones include: propylparaben and methylparaben, but it really doesn’t matter – anythingparapen is garbage. Find something else.
You don’t have to shell out big money for better products. Sometimes just changing formulas or regular brands is enough. Maybe Johnson & Johnson is chock full of parabens, but Dove isn’t, or whatever. If you do need to go to special brands, try the Vitamin Cottage if you have one. They seem to be a pretty decent deal for stuff like this.