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I dare to defend parabens!

Congratulations, Katie, on an excellent, well-reasoned article. I also concur with many of the comments it has provoked. My main concern is based on the comment of Barbara whose company uses "paraben-free" preservatives to err on the side of caution for customers with problematic skin types. There is not, and never has been any measurable concern about the risks of using parabens on skin. In fact, if you look at the more wide-ranging papers on irritation and sensitisation, by which I mean those that review bodies of work with preservatives rather than just reporting a few cases, you will find that parabens are easily amongst the least likely to elicit a skin response. I would certainly err on the side of caution if you are using potassium sorbate as a "paraben-free" preservative, as studies have demonstrated this to be around 2 - 3 times more likely to cause sensitisation than parabens. Not a lot of people know that!

I would like to emphasise the point about "paraben-free" marketing being misleading. It is an unnecessary label claim (as are all "free-from" claims) as it implies that there is a problem with the ingredient (as clearly argued in the original piece). If people want to use products that do not contain parabens, they can look at the INCI list. That's what it's there for! This applies to any cosmetic ingredient - look at the label - this is how the choice should be made, and not by putting misleading/ambiguous claims on pack copy.

Posted by Dene Godfrey
07 January 2010 | 15h52

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