We're jazzed (yep, we said that) to introduce Keep It 200—a series of bite-sized posts that break down the health, beauty and eco-conscious topics anyone with a conscience is talking about. In 200 words or less, obviously. This week we're talking parabens. You've heard of them. You hate them. But do you know why? It's time to find out. What are parabens? They're a type of preservative used since the 1950s to prevent the growth of mold and bacteria in beauty products, and prolong shelf life. Are they bad for us? Really? They're not doing anything good for us, that's for sure. Parabens have been linked to breast cancer and reproductive issues. To be clear, they haven't been proven to cause these things. But our skin absorbs stuff. What we put on it, goes in it. Proof: studies have shown traces of parabens in women's breast tissue. Parabens have even reportedly been found in the bodies of marine mammals—likely the result of humans' beauty and personal care products washing into sewage systems, and ending up in lakes and oceans. What do they do in our bodies? Parabens are known to disrupt hormone function by mimicking estrogen. Too much estrogen can trigger increased cell division and growth of tumours. In other words, the link to breast cancer and reproductive issues is pretty darn crystal clear. What should you look for? Don't bother checking labels for "parabens". Instead, look for butylparaben, methylparaben and propylparaben—the culprits most commonly used in beauty and personal care products. With so many paraben-free options out there, why risk it? Just swap your body wash, shampoo, facial cleanser, and shave soap for a bottle of Cove, excuse this shameless plug, and never worry about the P word again. Keep clean (safe and) simple, friends.Cove What topic, trend, or ingredient would you like to see broken down in 200 words or less? Tell us in the comments and we'll do our best to Keep It 200.