What they are: Parabens are used in most cosmetics, including mascara, shampoo and lotions. The David Suzuki Foundation estimates 75 to 90 percent of cosmetics contain parabens.
How they might harm: Like BPA, parabens are so chemically close to estrogen, our bodies mistake it for the female hormone. Estrogen can promote weight gain, especially among the hips and thighs.
Weight gain isn’t the only concern, however. One study of 160 breast cancer tumour samples, published in the Journal of Applied Toxicology in 2012, found the presence of at least one paraben in 99 percent of samples.
How to avoid them: Look out for any ingredient that ends in paraben, including methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben and benzylparaben. Many cosmetics now advertise “No Parabens” or “Paraben Free” on the label. Check out the Safe Cosmetics website for more info on harmful products in cosmetics.