If nourishing skincare is a vital element of your daily routine, you’re probably putting parabens and sulfates on your skin. Don’t worry though babe! We’ve got the 4-11 on what these nasties actually are, and how you can avoid them.

what are sulphates

Coveteur.com investigated sulfates and parabens with help from Eric Spengler, SVP of Research & Development at Living Proof, and Dr. Harold Lancer, celebrity dermatologist and founder of Lancer Skincare. Here’s what they found.

What are parabens?

Parabens are chemical preservatives designed to make your $500 a bottle night cream last more than just a few months. While parabens are shrouded in controversy, there's no evidence to prove they're dangerous yet.

Why are parabens dangerous?

There’s some compelling research that parabens are thought to mimic oestrogen in the body, which some scientists have linked to breast cancer and reproductive issues. 

The thinking is to do with oestrogen getting backed up in the body. When there's a surplus of oestrogen waiting to get processed through the liver, some of the 'backed-up' oestrogen gets ushered through a 'back exit' to ease the back log. This unprocessed oestrogen then enters the blood stream, and can be toxic. 

Inhaling parabens can be dangerous too

Coveteur.com also reported that if parabens are found in powders and perfumes, they can also be harmful if inhaled because parabens can be stored in the body, and pose a health risk in the future.

what are parabens

What are sulfates?

Let’s get nerdy here. In chemistry, a sulfate is a salt that consists of a sulfur atom, four oxygen atoms and some other form of counter ion. This chemical makeup is found naturally in nature, like magnesium sulfate - a fancy name for Epson Salts you soak your tired legs in after a super hard power yoga class.

But! When it comes to skincare and self-care, Eric Spengler told Coveteur.com the name relates to sulfate salts paired with a fatty acid. These snazzy compounds are what help you get a nice foamy lather with shampoos, body washes and toothpastes. 

Why are sulfates dangerous?

Spengler told the Coveteur they’re not! Many natural brands are offering sulfate-free cleansing products due to the powerful dehydrating effects sulfates can have on your body. A good example is  the ability of some shampoos to strip hair of natural moisture and make it rough, dry and brittle.

Spengler also told the Coveteur there’s no merit to the claims sulfates cause cancer.  Dr Spengler does add though, that more effective cleansers more gentle on your skin and hair are out there (and sulfate-free!) and may be a better choice.

parabens and sulphates

How do you find paraben-free and sulfate-free products?

Many skin, hair and beauty products will say 'sulphate-free' or 'paraben-free' on the bottle but some will just say 'natural.' The Coveteur says if the product says something like calcium-sulfate or methylparaben, they’re sneaking parabens and sulfates in without you knowing, so stay on the lookout!