Jul. 09, 2020

Are Parabens really as bad as often claimed

You know them, the infamous parabens that used to be present in almost all cosmetic products but are now avoided by everyone. In recent years, a lot of panic has been sown about the use of parabens in cosmetics and skin care products. More and more products came with the claim “Paraben-free” on the packaging. But are these ingredients really as bad as is often claimed? We went to investigate and discuss our findings in this blog.


Parabens are chemicals that are added to cosmetics, medicines, cleaning products. You can find them in the ingredient list on the product under methylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben or benzylparaben. They are added as a preservative , inhibiting the growth of fungi and bacteria so that they cannot spread in the product. By adding a preservative, the products can be stored for longer and are active for longer.

Parabens have been used for decades, but in recent years there has been more and more fuss about the use of these ingredients. And the cosmetic market responded only too eagerly. Labels appeared everywhere claiming “Paraben-free” . As a result, the image of the parabens has fallen sharply. Today they are considered bad or dangerous although they are very effective as preservatives.


Since 2018, according to the ' European Cosmetic Regulation 1 ' it is forbidden to use this type of claims on legally authorized products. With this they want to improve the negative reputation of certain cosmetic ingredients, such as parabens, and avoid unnecessarily frightening consumers.



One of the reasons parabens are said to be bad is because of the risk of allergic reactions . It is true that some people can develop an allergy to parabens and suffer from eczema. But the risk of an allergy or irritation is low with parabens compared to other preservatives. Parabens are used worldwide and are one of the least allergenic preservatives on the market (< 2% allergic reactions) 2-3 . The panic about allergic reactions is therefore unjustified .


A second reason would be that you have an increased risk of developing breast cancer when using parabens. Research has shown that parabens can penetrate the skin and have a slightly estrogenic effect 4 . Estrogen is a hormone associated with breast cancer. However, the estrogenic effect of parabens is much weaker than the naturally occurring form of estrogen in our body (estradiol). The study showed that the most potent paraben (butyl paraben) had 10,000 to 100,000 less potency compared to estradiol 4 .

A second study that caused quite a bit of panic was the Harvey & Darbe study in 2004 5 . They investigated the presence of parabens in breast tumor tissue . Parabens were found in the breast tumor tissue in most patients. These results caused panic and many people believed that the use of parabens increases the risk of breast cancer. We do have to make a few caveats with regard to Harvey & Darbe's research. For example, the presence of parabens in healthy breast tissue was not investigated. As a result, no basis for comparison or reference measure was available. In addition, no link could be made between the presence of parabens and the growth or development of breast cancer. This publication and accompanying conclusions should therefore be taken with a grain of salt.


Due to the controversy surrounding parabens, we at Nomige have chosen not to use parabens in our skin care products . This certainly does not mean that Nomige is not in favor of the use of parabens as a preservative. Parabens remain one of the best and most researched preservatives worldwide and are difficult to replace with alternatives. In addition, they are effective in low concentrations , which lowers the risk of allergies and irritations.

Within Europe , strict regulations apply to the use of chemical substances in cosmetics ( EU Cosmetic Regulation ). This takes into account an assessment by the independent Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (SCCS) , an advisory body that conducts a careful risk assessment of the chemicals before recommending a restriction or ban. Parabens are also subject to this regulation and have been extensively tested several times. Some parabens are banned in Europe and some others have maximum concentrations in cosmetic products. The parabens that are allowed and used as a preservative in cosmetics are therefore rated as safe. The fear of parabens is therefore unjustified!

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Connect with us and follow the hashtag #MyNomige to stay up to date on the latest skin tips and news.

Follow the hashtag #Nomige and stay informed about the latest skin tips and news.
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