Paraben free skincare – an introduction

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test tubeIncreasing numbers of customers are seeking paraben free skincare products and at Myroo we are proud that the entire product range is free from all preservatives, including parabens. Parabens appear in a huge variety of everyday skincare products from cream to shampoo, moisturiser to toothpaste. According to some sources up to 90% of cosmetic products include parabens in their formulation. You may see parabens on labels under terms such as butylparaben, propylparaben, methylparaben and ethyl parabens.

What are parabens?

Parabens are a group of esters of para-hydroxybenzoic acid. An ester is the result of a reaction between a carboxylic acid and an alcohol. So in the case of parabens, para-hydroxybenzoic acid and methanol for methylparaben, ethanol for ethylparaben and so on. Parabens occur in nature. Methylparaben is found in blueberries for example. But the parabens in skincare products are usually synthetic, albeit often nature identical copies.

Why are parabens used in skincare and cosmetic products?  

Any skincare with water in the formulation requires some form of preservative. Put   simply, parabens are antimicrobial preservatives, they kill bacteria and microbes that could be harmful if allowed to grow. Parabens are also PH neutral, colourless and odourless. Importantly for manufacturers they are cheap. Parabens are also approved by the European Cosmetics Directive as safe to use in small percentages.

So what’s the problem with parabens?

One of the biggest areas of concern, and certainly the area that has attracted most media coverage, is whether there is a link between parabens and breast cancer. Several studies have found traces of parabens in breast cancer tumours. However, there has yet to be a causal link between cancer and the use of parabens in skincare. In addition, parabens are oestrogenic, they mimic oestrogen. Studies have shown that this may affect male and female reproductive organs. Some studies suggest that a low sperm count and a decrease in testosterone are directly related to the use of parabens. In addition oestrogen can accelerate tumour growth, increasing the concerns over parabens and their links with cancer. When parabens are eaten they lose their ester group and they become less oestrogen like. When used in skin care products, parabens are absorbed directly into the blood stream rather than through the gastrointestinal tract. What is not known is how harmful parabens are when applied to the skin. Clearly the longer that parabens are on the skin the greater any potential risk. So leave-on products (underarm deodorants, lotions and creams) with parabens will give more prolonged exposure to any risk than wash off products like shampoo and shower products.

Myroo products are natural. At the moment, the full range is anhydrous (doesn’t have water) so don’t  contain ANY preservatives. Any of our future products which requires a preservative will not use parabens.  Some people subscribe to the precautionary principle, if there is doubt, why risk it. You can decide what is right for you.


What’s your view? We’d love to hear your thoughts. Please leave a comment. We are not scientists or experts in this field. This blog post has been prepared by undertaking thorough research. If you would like to read more about parabens then here are some of the sources used. Of course a simple google search will also return a lot of information from various angles.


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