The Truth About Parabens

The preservatives used in cosmetic and skincare products have come under an intense attack in the last few years. The media have  published some very scary stories and headlines, like “Toxic Toiletries”! and “Killer Cosmetics”. This scaremongering is fundamentally wrong and creates panic,fear and confusion!

The family of preservatives in question is“Parabens”and many of you will be fearful of the name without really knowing why? I know lots of people who will only buy Paraben Free products, but when asked why they either don’t know or say that they cause breast cancer! Also when we start to see “Paraben Free” on lots of things, then ultimately we think it’s a bad ingredient.

Parabens are widely used as a preservative in cosmetics, foods, pharmaceuticals and household products. They stop products from deteriorating by protecting them from harmful micro-organisms during storage and while the product is opened and used.

This adverse publicity has stemmed from a flawed and very much misinterpreted scientific research paper that was published (then the media twisted it). The Paraben family are actually naturally occuring chemicals, found in fruits, vegetables and other plants as well as being man-made, despite what has been written, parabens are not especially Oestrogenic ( not as much as Apples, and far less than Soya products). The study in question which was widely publicised claimed to find traces of Parabens in breast cancer tissue samples, but extraordinaraly  traces of parabens where also found in the blank control samples – which should have been just blank! Dr Philippa Darbe, the researcher on this confirmed that traces of parabens came from the laboratory glassware, most likely from the cleaning agents, so it is entirely possible that the parabens found in the breast tissue sample were  actually present only due to the contamination of the laboratory glassware. No other studies since have found any parabens whatsoever in breast cancer tissue. Unfortunately the media has focused it’s attention on this and now regards paraben free skincare as much better for us, which is absolute nonsense, it has only given rise to many more so called “Organic/natural” brands being sold as Paraben free, as if it is a much better option! You will find that lots of big brands have started to remove Parabens, this is due to the scaremongering and people avoiding products with parabens.

Parabens are approved for use as a preservative in the European Cosmetics Directive  and are the most widely used in skincare products, they have been used and tested since the 1930’s and shown to be very safe for us and the environment.

Products need to be safe, especially skincare that has a mix of oil and water and used around our mouth and eyes! This  means using an adequately preserved product! Bugs love to grow especially in an emollient formulation that comes into contact with fingers. Using a product that is not properly preserved or has inferior preservatives may be potentially  harmful and you can risk skin infections.

For more facts on Parabens go to – which is a very credible source of information run by the Cosmetics, Toiletry and Perfumery Association, it’s the first place I go when I hear a scare story!

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