• Are Paraben-Free Products Really Better?

    Paraben-free products are esteemed as better for you and the world- but are they really? My experience with some of the alternative preservatives out there is that they are much more irritating and sensitizing to the skin. Moreover, they do not have as good a track record of fighting of potentially harmful bacteria. A product without preservatives is just scary if you think of the damage a virus or bacteria can do to your skin health. Nevertheless, the use of parabens is still controversial. This week, the Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (SCCS), an independent European safety committee, has released its opinion on the use of parabens as preservatives in cosmetics products. The SCCS concluded that the use of parabens in cosmetic products is safe as long as they are within the recommended concentration levels. Fortunately, these recommended levels are already reflective of the current use in the industry. However, not all parabens are created equal. And data regarding the safety concerns for human use is still lacking. So the SCCS also concluded that there isn’t enough data to recommend a safety level for some of the more seldom-used parabens, such as Isopropyl-, Isobutyl-, and Phenylparaben.

    Another issue at hand is the interpretation of scientific data and extending it to everyday use human use. Slathering a pure paraben (or any other ingredient for that matter) topically on mice is simply not the same as a person sparingly using a product containing the same ingredient in a complex formulation at a much lower concentration. So the SCCS also concluded that there is a “lack of scientifically sound data on the pivotal link between dermal absorption in rats and humans,” meaning that some of the laboratory studies on animals cannot be interpreted for human use. Similarly, even though lab studies showed that rats could metabolize these compounds, “no clear demonstration is given” of metabolism into the metabolite PHBA in human skin. Overall, the views of this committee conclude that the use of parabens in cosmetic products at the maximum authorized concentrations can be considered safe.

    Read the report here

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