I Scream, You Scream, We all Scream for a Paraben-free Cream!

Why are we all in a race to get rid of preservatives and parabens in our skincare?  Is it because beauty companies are educating customers on the perils of parabens?  Or are we reading too many anti-paraben blogs, such as the one re: the woman getting breast cancer purportedly from parabens in a cream that she was using?  Or do we even know why we want to get rid of parabens?  Well, let me give you the skinny…..

I was working in product development in a skin care company several years back when this whole ordeal transcended.  Raw material suppliers were scrambling to come up with paraben replacements.  Customers were calling incessantly demanding to know why we still formulated products with parabens.  The negative media frenzy surrounding parabens stemmed mainly from a study done in 2004 which detected parabens in human breast cancer tissue.  Ever since the study was released, parabens were known as a potential carcinogen and nobody wanted to touch the ingredient with a 10-foot pole.

What exactly are parabens?  Parabens are a group of preservatives, found to be most effective in fighting off harmful bacteria in your skincare.  You may recognize these ingredients on your label listed as methylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben and/or isobutylparaben, which are the most common parabens used in cosmetics and skincare.  Even at very low percentage levels (usually only added into products at 0.01 – 0.3%), parabens have superpower abilities in preserving your creams and lotions.

You may wonder why you need any kind of preservatives at all.  Well let me ask you this.  When you apply your face cream, do you stick your finger inside the jar?  Did you know that the moment your finger touches the cream, you are introducing bacteria into the formula?  If there were no preservatives in your formula, bacteria will start to grow (after all, your formula is made up mostly of water and fats which the bacteria can feast on!).  Before long, you will notice that your cream is becoming rancid (ever seen creams that separate or smell funny?).  Obviously you don’t want to put this contaminated product on your skin!!

However, in response to tremendous customer demand, the beauty industry is rapidly reformulating all their products to be paraben-free.  While it’s not that I disagree with this approach, I will leave you with this food for thought.  There are many new paraben alternatives available on the market today.  However, most of these preservatives must be used at levels 6 or 7 times higher than parabens in order to have the same bacteria-fighting abilities.  What does this mean?  Well the higher the preservative content in your creams, the greater the potential for skin irritation.  In addition, using higher level preservatives often has a negative impact on the overall feel and texture of the creams.  As you can see there are tradeoffs for paraben alternatives as well!

So, for those of you are indifferent about parabens, you will be happy to know that FDA still deems parabens to be safe for use in cosmetic products even after evaluating additional studies performed as a result of this controversy.
However, for those of you who choose to ban parabens, please make sure that you are still purchasing products that are adequately preserved!  Preservatives in any beauty formulas that contain water are ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL!  Skincare should enhance, not ruin your skin!!

That’s all I have for today!  Bye for now dolls!

Yours truly,


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