Although research continues to conclude that the paraben preserving agents used widely in cosmetics pose no threat to human health, consumer enthusiasm for products able to make ‘paraben-free’ claims remains robust, and brands are making the most of the demand.
Following the 2004 study which first ignited concern by suggesting that parabens can mimic oestrogen and thus cause hormone disruptions, no evidence for any link between the preservation ingredients and health concerns has been found.
No threat; but still lucrative
Indeed, Dr Stephanie Williams, dermatologist at European Dermatology London, has recently stated: “Parabens have a long history of safe use and are very commonly used in skincare. They are well established skincare preservatives and, for the vast majority of customers, won’t cause any problems.”
Dr Edmund Fowles of EF Chemical Consulting, a company which specialises in cosmetic safety assessments, agrees: “I feel absolutely sure that parabens are safe. As a result of all the fuss about the potential risks there has been exhaustive research, which has covered all angles.”
Nevertheless, the 'paraben-free' bug has well and truly bitten, and with consumers increasingly keen for these claims, from formulation to packaging, manufacturers are now fully exploiting the trend.
Lush is a beauty brand showing itself keen to leverage the increasing consumer conscious on the subject, having just launched a range of self-preserving systems for products across their ranges.
“We’ve now found a way to keep the amount of ‘free water’ – which is the water that’s left over once the chemical reactions have taken place – to a minimum, meaning that even our moisturisers can become entirely self-preserving,” says the brand.
“The dynamics of the formula are carefully balanced in order to produce a beautiful product that is effective, practical and long-lasting, without having to utilise a preservative system,” Lush’s cosmetic scientist, Daniel Campbell, states.
The enthusiasm for ‘paraben-free’ participates in the ongoing hype for naturals and organics in the beauty industry, and packaging manufacturers are tagging into the trend too, with products now being developed which allow for greater preservation functionality.
Neopac, for example, is set to launch its new AirShield technology, which, the company states, “is particularly suited to oxygen-sensitive contents, for beauty products or natural cosmetics.”
“The cosmetics products retain their consistency, colour, effect just as the cosmetics manufacturers intended them for their customers. Even after the packaging has been opened and is in daily use,” the brand concludes.