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Are Parabens Bad For Hair? What You Need to Know

There are many reasons why we find parabens in everything from our food to hair care products. These ingredients prolong the shelf life of whatever they're added to by preventing the growth of bacteria. 

But any research into parabens for hair care will reveal that they're a controversial ingredient. So are parabens bad for hair? And what are some of the adverse health effects associated with them? 

In this guide, we'll be doing a deep dive into this critical subject. That way, you can decide for yourself whether or not parabens are something that you want in your products and body. Let's get started!

What Are Parabens?

Parabens are short for parahydroxybenzoates which are synthetic chemicals used for the preservation of products. Most products that use parabens fall under the beauty product category. 

However, you can also find them in some drugs and food. Many chemicals fall under the parabens umbrella. Some common ones include:

  • Methylparaben
  • Isopropylparaben
  • Butylparaben
  • Ethylparaben
  • Propylparaben
  • Isobutylparaben

As we will see, there are many adverse side effects associated with parabens. Despite this, they remain perfectly legal for companies to put them in their products. 

What's the Government's Stance on Parabens?

Since 1984 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has claimed that parabens in cosmetic products are safe as long as they're in small amounts. 

That's why adding them to products has been legal since the 1950s. However, there is a mountain of evidence that suggests otherwise. 

Are Parabens Bad For Hair?

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Yes, parabens are harmful to your hair. It's an ingredient that's especially bad for locs. First, know that you don't need to ingest parabens for them to end up in your system. 

Just washing your hair with parabens is enough to wind up in your blood and urine. Parabens tend to dry out your hair significantly. This can lead to itchiness and irritation.

On top of that, they can also fade the color found in your hair. It doesn't matter if it's your natural color or dyed locs. Many people also report hair loss after using products with parabens in them. 

However, what parabens do to your locs is honestly the least of your concern. What's really concerning is the other health effects that they cause. 

Want to learn some facts you might not have known about locs? Check out this guide to learn more. 

Related: 5 Top Tips on Taking Care of Your Locs

Other Potential Adverse Health Effects Associated With Parabens

As we mentioned in the last section, parabens aren't just bad for your hair. Many studies point out that they affect almost every system in your body. In this section, we'll be exploring these adverse effects in more detail. 

It Affects Your Brain Function

Certain parabens, like butylparaben and isobutylparaben, harm our brain's operations. Specifically, a study found that these parabens impaired learning when given to animals. 

In addition to learning problems, the animals also experience anxiety, as well as lower levels of antioxidants and higher levels of inflammation. 

Related: The Benefits of Aloe Vera for Locs

Affects Your Cholesterol 

Men exposed to parabens have a higher chance of developing high cholesterol levels. Moreover, cholesterol is vital for producing hormones like testosterone and estrogen. Parabens affect our hormone levels by ceasing the production of these essential hormones. 

Raises Your Blood Sugar Levels

Another study found that parabens put people at increased risk for high blood pressure and diabetes. However, it's important to note that this study was performed on pregnant women during their first and second trimesters. 

As such, more research is needed to decide if this health risk also threatens non-pregnant people. This study also found that a mixture of parabens is much more dangerous than one single one alone. 

Poor Immune System Health

A lot of research has come out in the last decade that ties the health of our immune system to the health of our gut. The more diverse your gut's microbiome is, the better equipped your body will be to fight off infection and disease. 

Unfortunately, using paraben products can prevent the growth of these healthy bacteria in your gut. This, in turn, can weaken your immune system. And that's not the only way they affect this vital system. Parabens also promote the growth of Type 2 helper T cells (or Th2 cells). 

When we get sick Th2 cells tend to make our immune system more sensitive. However, when we're not ill, they can make our immune system overreact to anything that stimulates it. 


Like our gut, our skin has a microbiome filled with good and bad bacteria. And, like our gut, parabens get rid of a lot of the healthy bacteria that we need. This, in turn, makes us more sensitive to allergies. 

What's more, rashes and dry skin are much more common because of parabens. That's part of the reason why it's not good in hair products. 

Want to learn more about our all-natural products? Contact us today, and we'll answer any questions you might have. 

Related: Lion Locs Loc Gel Moisturizer

The Importance of Natural Hair Care Products

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While specific reports say that parabens are fine in small amounts, the long list of health effects that come with them should raise eyebrows. Here at Lion Locs, we believe that even the chance of harming our bodies with parabens is reason enough to avoid them. 

We strive to make all-natural products free of chemicals and animal products. For example, our 2-in-1 Co Wash for Dreadlocks is 100% organic and parabens-free. 

By supporting sellers that devote themselves to paraben-free products, you're taking a stand against a beauty industry that simply doesn't care about your health. 

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