Is paraben free shampoo right for you?

So why should we bother with paraben free shampoo?

We’ve all been told it’s best to avoid toxins such as parabens in shampoos and conditioners, but what actually are these little devils, and why is it best to go paraben free in the delicately fragranced, feel-good products most of us like to use daily in our showers?

Parabens are chemical preservatives with bacterial properties. Which means they keep products clean and able to last a long time on your bathroom shelf. They are also hugely affordable, which is why they’ve been used by so many companies in skincare, make up, spa products, shampoos and conditioners over the years to make large-scale branded products that are often cheaper to buy than higher quality products made by thoughtful companies who care.

So are parabens toxic?

In a word, yes. Just like other chemicals such as the cleansing agent Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS), parabens have been found to act as skin irritants and been linked by scientific research to dermatitis, allergic reactions and hormone disruption. Research by a team of scientists in Kyoto even found that parabens can react with the sun to age our skin faster and even damage our DNA. That said, more research needs to be done for any of this to be entirely conclusive, and the sad fact is that if a product does not have a commercial interest, research into it rarely gets funded.

But why take the risk? Isn’t it nicer to know when your hands are in your hair that they’re full of sensibly natural products such as fig, vanilla or coconut oil rather than a preservative that we don’t know is entirely safe? Increasingly, conscious consumers are turning to natural beauty products such as SLS and paraben free shampoo so they can take care of themselves with their minds at peace and get on with worrying about other, more interesting things.

This is especially true of those who suffer from itchy scalps, for parabens can act as allergens, so if your scalp has been feeling rough or irritated, check the label of your hair products for parabens and switch to a paraben free shampoo. ‘Paraben free’ on a label usually refers to natural shampoos that don’t contain methylparaben, also known as E218, but it can also refer to one of its paraben cousins such as alkyl parahydroxy benzoates, propylparaben or butylparaben. All parabens have a similar chemical structure but subtly different properties, and it’s generally thought that, just like pet allergies, if you are allergic to one type, it’s best to avoid them all.

An increasing number of conscious companies are spending a little more money to make beautiful, natural hair conditioners and shampoos. Natural Spa Factory plays it safe and only uses botanically sourced ingredients derived from nature to avoid as many nasties as possible, including parabens. All our natural shampoos and conditioners are free from parabens as well as SLS, methylchloroisothiazolinone (MCI), methylisothiazolinone (MIT) and Microbeads, none of them have been tested on animals, and they all use gender-neutral packaging, so men can enjoy them just as much as women. How refreshing is that?

At the moment we’re particularly proud of our award-winning, vegan-friendly, natural shampoo and conditioner super duo, Double Up Fig & Vanilla Shampoo & Conditioner (250ml), which leaves hair feeling clean, moisturised and smelling incredible. The Independent newspaper named the duo Number one of its ’11 best paraben and sulphate free shampoos and conditioners’ for 2019 - click here to read more. But don’t just take our word for it, check out the products yourself here, and to read more about the debate on parabens and clean beauty, see the thoughtful Guardian article here.

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