Free shipping on all orders over $50  |  Play smart. Play safe. Non-toxic suncare

Ingredient Truths: What's The Story With Parabens, Should I Be Concerned?

by kelly / January, 28 2015 01:30

We believe ingredients matter at Block Island Organics and we want to be open and honest about what goes into our products.  We also believe in educating consumers about suncare, sun protection and healthy living in general.  As part of our commitment to building a safe brand that you can trust we'll be doing an on-going series on ingredients.  We'll break down what these ingredients do, what they mean for you and any concerns.  This week we'll be talking about parabens.

What Are Parabens?

Parabens are preservatives used in personal care, cosmetic and pharmaceutical products. Preservatives prevent the growth off microbes including bacteria, fungi and parasites.  To get a little more scientific, parabens are esters of p-hydroxybenzoic acid.  Common parabens used in products and found in ingredient listings are methylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben or benzylparaben.  These parabens can be used in combination with each other and along with other preservatives.

So What's the Issue With Parabens?

You might be wondering what's the issue if they prevent the growth of harmful microbes.  Isn't that good thing?  Well yes but parabens can potentially cause endocrine disruption which means they disrupt hormone function.  Parabens are active substances.  Hormone disruption has been linked to breast cancer and reproductive issues.  Of course the science of hormone disruption is also met with uncertainty - know one knows exactly how much or for how long before issues arise. 

The big controversy over parabens came out of a 2004 study published by British cancer researcher Philippa Darbre, Ph.D.  It detected parabens in breast cancer tumors.  However the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) believes that

"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."

Where Does the FDA Stand on Parabens?

The FDA actually doesn't regulate cosmetic products with the exception of color additives that are not coal-tar hair dyes.   For the most part, the FDA allows cosmetic manufacturers to use any ingredients they choose with the exception of a few ingredients that are prohibited by regulation.  Note that sunscreen is a little different and the FDA does regulate it because the FDA considers all sunscreens an over the counter (OTC) drug.  Today, the FDA doesn't believe there are concerns about the use of parabens in cosmetic products but is continuing to evaluate new data.  The FDA does cite a study:

"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%."

Does Block Island Organics Use Parabens?

Block Island Organics products do not contain parabens.  We use natural or naturally derived preservatives in our products.  Yes the concern around parabens is not conclusive but we figure it best to air on the side of caution in this case.

How Do I Avoid Parabens In My Products?

You can look for these ingredients mentioned above: "methylparaben", "propylparaben", "butylparaben" and "benzylparaben"  - if you see these ingredients then your product uses parabens.  Additionally, sometimes parabens are hidden under the ingredient "fragrance" or "parfum".  According to the EWG (Environmental Working Group) "fragrance or parfum on the product label represents an undisclosed mixture of various scent chemicals and ingredients".  Since fragrance and parfum can be made up of potentially hundreds of ingredients that do not need to be disclosed, parabens can be in this ingredient.  Block Island Organics products do not contain the ingredients "fragrance" or "parfum".  Also look for products that are labeled "paraben free". 

Tags: , , ,

blog comments powered by Disqus