Parabens: Pondering Pesky Preservatives
As you might have read on our Ingredients We Don’t Use Page, parabens are on our naughty list! Truthfully, parabens have an important job, as they are commonly used as preservatives in cosmetic and other products. They protect consumers from harmful bacteria and mold that would otherwise invade the cosmetics (and other products) people use on a daily basis. Without preservatives, all cosmetics would have a very short shelf life and might deem them harmful. However, they are cheap preservatives, with little evidence proving their safety with long-term use. There are other preservative options that can be used, and some parts of the world are doing something about it. For example, the European Union is taking steps to rid their products of parabens:
The European Commission decision followed an assessment by the independent Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (SCCS) and they carried out the following in 20141:
- They limited the maximum concentration of two preservatives, Propylparaben and Butylparaben, from currently allowed limit of 0.4%, when used individually and 0.8% when mixed with other esters, to 0.14%, when used individually or together. In addition, they are being banned from leave-on products designed for the nappy area of young children below the age of three, since existing skin irritation and occlusion may allow increased penetration than intact skin. The new rules will apply for products put on shelves after 16 April 2015.
- They banned the mixture of Methylchloroisothiazolinone (and) Methylisothiazolinone (MCI/MI) from leave-on products. The measure is aimed at reducing the risk from and the incidence of skin allergies. The preservative can still be used in rinse-off products such as shampoos and shower gels at a maximum concentration of 0.0015 % of a mixture in the ratio 3:1 of MCI/MI. The measure will apply for products placed on the market after 16 July 2015.
- In early 2014, they banned the use of five other parabens in cosmetic products – Isopropylparaben, Isobutylparaben, Phenylparaben, Benzylparaben and Pentylparaben (See Commission Regulation (EU) No 358/2014) due to the lack of data necessary for reassessment).
So why aren’t we following suit in the US? The FDA is aware of consumer’s growing concern over the use of parabens, and their scientists continue to review published studies on the safety of parabens. However, at this time, they do not feel there is sufficient data showing that parabens have an effect on human health, so no prohibitions or restrictions… yet. In the meantime, socially conscious manufacturers, like Kavella®, will do what we can to offer better ingredient alternatives. Taking everything into consideration, especially consumer concern, Kavella has chosen to ban parabens entirely from their products. We use safer alternative (albeit costlier) preservatives to ensure consumer safety.
You can spend your time checking labels for parabens and other potentially harmful ingredients, but remember parabens can also be hiding in the secretive “fragrance” ingredient. (See more about this on our “ingredients we don’t use” page). Your best bet is to seek out brands, like Kavella that are transparent and use natural, organic, plant-based ingredients, so you don’t have to spend your precious time pondering about those pesky preservatives, aka parabens.