New Findings: Are Parabens Bad For You Or Safe? And Paraben-Free Skincare & Makeup Products

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New Findings: Are Parabens Bad For You Or Safe? And Paraben-Free Skincare & Makeup Products

In March 2012 The Cosmetics Ingredient Review (CIR) reaffirmed that parabens — common preservatives used in cosmetics and personal care products — are safe. Parabens have a long history of use in cosmetic products and their safety is well documented and continually evaluated. The Cosmetics Ingredient Review (CIR) reviewed the safety of methylparaben, propylparaben, and butylparaben and concluded they were safe for use in cosmetic products at levels up to 25% (they are used at levels from 0.01 to 0.1%).

 

What Are Parabens? Why Are They Used?

Parabens are the most widely used preservatives against a broad range of microorganisms in cosmetic products. Chemically, parabens are esters of p-hydroxybenzoic acid — naturally found in blueberries. The most common parabens used are methylparaben, propylparaben, and butylparaben (either single or in combination). If we look at the ingredients list on our cosmetic product labels, we will find them mostly in products with high amounts of water such as in shampoos, conditioners, lotions and facial and shower cleansers and scrubs.

 

New Findings: Are Parabens Bad For You Or Safe? And Paraben-Free Skincare & Makeup Products

How Safe Are Parabens?

Over the past decade parabens have a lot of controversy including that they can cause skin irritation and contact dermatitis. The Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) Skin Deep Cosmetics Database, which compares cosmetic ingredients to over fifty international toxicity databases, indicates that parabens are linked to cancer, endocrine disruption, reproductive toxicity, immunotoxicity, neurotoxicity and skin irritation. Since parabens are used to kill bacteria in water-based solutions, they inherently have some toxicity to cells.

This all began with research back in a 2004 study (released by Dr. Darbre in the Journal of Applied Toxicology), claiming that parabens mimic estrogen and lead to breast cancer. However, it has been criticized as flawed by many researchers including the American Cancer Society.

 

Controversy

The mainstream cosmetic industry believes that parabens, like most cosmetic ingredients, are safe based on their long-term use, safety record and recent scientific studies. While several non-governmental organizations, such as Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, allege paraben usage in the cosmetic field to its link to cancer.

In December 2005, after considering the margins of safety for exposure to women and infants, the panel agreed that parabens are safe to use in cosmetics. The result has been accepted by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)American Cancer Society and Canadian Cancer Society. The U.S. FDA has classified methyl- and propylparabens as GRAS, which means they are Generally Regarded As Safe by medical and toxicological experts for use in preserving foods. The European Commission has also allowed parabens as safe for use as cosmetic preservatives.

 

What Paraben-Free Alternatives Are There To Use?

Public interest organizations which raise awareness about cosmetic ingredients believed that further research was necessary to determine the safety of parabens and its alternatives. The list includes grape seed extract, organic acid (i.e. potassium sorbate, sodium benzoate etc), sodium hydroxymethylglycinate and essential oils (i.e. tea tree oil).

 

New Findings: Are Parabens Bad For You Or Safe? And Paraben-Free Skincare & Makeup Products

 

Have You Gone Paraben-Free Yet?

“Paraben-free” is the new buzzword in the cosmetics world. Companies like Burts Bees, Aubrey Cosmetics, Jason, Algenist, Amazon Beauty, Apothederm, Cellure, DermaDoctor, Dr. Dennis Gross MD skin care, Bare Escentuals, Fusion Brand, Kiehl’s, L’Occitaine, La Rochey Posay, NV Perricone, Skinceuticles, Smashbox, StriVectin, The Body Shop and Vbeauty have launched a series of products ranging from face creams, cleansers, eye creams, serums, shampoos, conditioners, masks, anti-aging creams, make-up, etc. The global cosmetic giant Neutrogena has launched a new range of personal care products: Neutrogena Naturals — marketing a paraben-free campaign. It includes a face scrub, night cream, facial cleanser & bar, lip balm etc.

 

New Findings: Are Parabens Bad For You Or Safe? And Paraben-Free Skincare & Makeup Products

Controversies Lead To An End

In December 2011, Halyna Breslawec — Chief Scientist of Personal Care Product Council — stated that, “The cosmetics industry formally requested that the [Cosmetics Ingredient Review] (CIR) re-examine the safety of parabens as they are used in cosmetics and we are gratified that the panel has done so and confirmed the safety of these ingredients.” This decision has pulled down a curtain to years of controversies about parabens and is appreciated by the Consumer Federation of America and the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

-  Rinki Pramanik, biotechnologist

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8 thoughts on “New Findings: Are Parabens Bad For You Or Safe? And Paraben-Free Skincare & Makeup Products

  1. Jennifer

    I am glad that there was a new report recently regarding the saftey of parabens. I am a certified tanner, and I use and market my products as paraben-free. It is nice to have that option for clients, since tanning solution is used all over the body and not just on the face or a small portion of the skin. I keep my solution in the refrigerater in order to prevent it from spoiling and it does use some of the paraben-free alternatives listed in the article. Great relief that paraben containing products are still safe, but as for my business, I’ll most likely continue to use and sell paraben-free products.

  2. Jessica Allison

    I find it a little odd that Beautystat would publish an article whose primary point is that PARABENS ARE SAFE, but then cap it off at the end with mentions of all of the companies that are still pursuing paraben-free formulation. It seems a little contrary to the spirit of the article, and I do think that it’s confused some of your readers.

    Parabens have been the unjust target of a well-executed smear campaign, at the hands of an alarmist lobbyist group (EWG) and marketing think tanks. Companies have not gone paraben-free because they think it’s better skin care, they’ve gone paraben-free because they know there’s a large segment of the market that’s looking for paraben-free cosmetics and are willing to pay a premium for them.

    This smear campaign has been so well executed that even after reading an article like this, and article that references the consensus of scientifically sound, peer-reviewed research and support of world-wide governing bodies, people are still inclined to ignore the facts (parabens are safe) in favor of the marketing.

    In fact, the reason parabens are used as widely as they are is that they have a low incidence of irritation compared to many alternatives. According to Fisher’s Contact Dermatitis (Rietschel, Fowler, Fisher. PMPH-USA, 2008) “Considering their volume of use, incidence of allergy to the parabens is relatively low compared to the other common preservatives.”

    Yes, there are people out there that are allergic to parabens, just as there are people that are allergic to sunlight and water. Such allergies are rare, however, so unless you have been diagnosed by an immunologist, the greater body of knowledge insists that parabens are among the best options for preserving and keeping your cosmetics safe and effective.

  3. Pingback: Parabens and Phthalates: Why You Should Avoid Them « Beauty By Britanie

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