When used in cosmetics parabens can, to some extent, infiltrate the skin and there is evidence that they can be present in human tissue. Through research on animals parabens have been found to cause low levels of oestrogen activity, where the substances have been linked to breast cancer. A direct link between breast cancer and parabens has never been proven though. There are many parabens and there is a significant difference between them in terms of safety. Unfortunately, in spite of long term use, there has been relatively little research carried out into the possible negative effects.
What are parabens?
Parabens are the most widely used preservatives in cosmetic products. Chemically, parabens are esters of p-hydroxybenzoic acid. The most common parabens used in cosmetic products are methylparaben, propylparaben, and butylparaben. Typically, more than one paraben is used in a product, and they are often used in combination with other types of preservatives to provide preservation against a broad range of microorganisms. The use of mixtures of parabens allows the use of lower levels while increasing preservative activity.
many cosmetic products contain parabens in very small quantaties
Why are preservatives used in cosmetics?
Preservatives may be used in cosmetics to protect them against microbial growth, both to protect consumers and to maintain product integrity.
What kinds of products contain parabens?
They are used in a wide variety of cosmetics, as well as foods and drugs. Cosmetics that may contain parabens include makeup, moisturizers, hair care products, and shaving products, among others. Most major brands of deodorants and antiperspirants do not currently contain parabens.
How can I find out if my products contain parabens?
Cosmetics sold on a retail basis to consumers are required by law to declare ingredients on the label. This is important information for consumers who want to determine whether a product contains an ingredient they wish to avoid. Parabens are usually easy to identify by name, such as methylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, or benzylparaben.
Do parabens increase the risk of allergies?
In comparison to other preservatives the risk of skin irritation or a cosmetic allergy is low (‘allergic contact dermatitis caused by 2 parabens: 2 case reports and a review’- American journal of contact dermatitis – 2000). In terms of allergic reactions parabens are regarded as safer than many later alternatives (‘Claims in cosmetics’ Hypo-allergic and dermatologically tested products – Prof. An Goossens). People can just as likely react to ‘natural’ preservatives, such as rosemary extract or tea tree oil, as to parabens in beauty products (‘contact dermatitis to cosmetics, fragrances and botanicals’- dermatologic therapy – 2004).
rosemary extract can cause allergies
How is the use of preservatives in cosmetics regulated?
The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act) does not authorize FDA to approve cosmetic ingredients, with the exception of color additives that are not coal-tar hair dyes. In general, cosmetic manufacturers may use any ingredient they choose, except for a few ingredients that are prohibited by regulation. However, it is against the law to market a cosmetic in interstate commerce if it is adulterated. Under the FD&C Act, a cosmetic is adulterated if, among other reasons, it bears or contains any poisonous or deleterious substance which may render it injurious under the labeled conditions of use, or under customary or usual conditions of use. For more on this subject, see FDA Authority Over Cosmetics and Key Legal Concepts: "Interstate Commerce," "Adulterated," and "Misbranded."
Health risks associated with the use of parabens in cosmetics
The Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) reviewed the safety of methylparaben, propylparaben, and butylparaben in 1984 and concluded they were safe for use in cosmetic products at levels up to 25%. Typically parabens are used at levels ranging from 0.01 to 0.3%.
CIR assessed the safety of parabens
study found parabens in breast tumors
A study published in 2004 (Darbre, in the Journal of Applied Toxicology) detected parabens in breast tumors. The study also discussed this information in the context of the weak estrogen-like properties of parabens and the influence of estrogen on breast cancer. However, the study left several questions unanswered. For example, the study did not show that parabens cause cancer, or that they are harmful in any way, and the study did not look at possible paraben levels in normal tissue.
QUOTE: "FDA believes that at the present time there is no reason for consumers to be concerned about the use of cosmetics containing parabens. However, the agency will continue to evaluate new data in this area. If FDA determines that a health hazard exists, the agency will advise the industry and the public, and will consider its legal options under the authority of the FD&C Act in protecting the health and welfare of consumers."
What does the EU Scientific Committee of Consumer Products say about the use of parabens in underarm products in relation to cancer:
QUOTE: Taking into consideration the answer to the question 2.2 and viewing the fact that the estrogenic potential of parabens has been found to be very low, it is the opinion of the SCCP that, in the light of the present knowledge, there is no evidence of demonstrable risk for the development of breast cancer caused by the use of paraben-containing underarm cosmetics. (read full article below)
Parabens are widely used preservatives necessary to keep cosmetics free from bacteria en funghi. Natural alternatives (if there are any) are not necessary more healthy. There is no real scientific evidence to support that parabens increase the risk of cancer or other health risks. Most experts don’t give a conclusive advice to use products with – or without parabens and leave it up to the consumer to decide. Some dermatologists (Dr. Leslie Baumann) say that without parabens the risks of contaminated products would be high and could be a potential health risk.
Lily Leading Instant Eye Lift does not contain parabens.
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References:Wikipedia,FDA,EU Scientific Committee of Consumer Products,Dr. Jetske Ultee