What are parabens?
Over 75% of skin and hair care products on the market contain parabens and they have been used as a preservative for over 80 years. Parabens are chemical preservatives used to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria and mould in perishable goods. The most common preservatives used in cosmetics are Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Butylparaben, and Ethylparaben.
Are they dangerous?
Don't panic! Parabens in formulations are used to a RESTRICTED concentration from around 0.3% to 1%. They are used to give products longer shelf life and prevent bacteria from growing within products which could make a consumer ill. As the concentration percentage used in products are very low, it is difficult to say they are bad for us. The Cosmetics, Toiletries and Perfumery Association released a statement in response to the bad press regarding the use of parabens: "Parabens are officially approved for use under the Cosmetics Directive (76/768/EEC), the European Legislation that regulates all cosmetics and toiletries. We can reassure the public that all cosmetic and toiletry products containing parabens may continue to be safely".
Despite this, many people still have doubts. Parabens may also be linked to impacting the environment. A scientific study reported that parabens have been found for the first time in the bodies of marine mammals and it is suggested that it is likely a result of products we used that are washed into the sewage systems and released into the environment.
For people who have sensitive skin, they may look for an alternative to products containing parabens. We suggest taking some time to read through the ingredients list of products before purchasing if you think you may be sensitive to certain ingredients.
To conclude, the Cosmetic Regulations have made sure to protect consumers by enforcing restrictions on paraben percentages. For an approved preservative listing, refer to ECOCERT - a certification body for the development of standards in natural and organic cosmetics.