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The Truth About Parabens

By: Carol and Rob Trow
Posted: June 30, 2010, from the July 2010 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.
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A study in the Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology claimed that, in order to obtain an estrogenic effect from parabens, which could be potentially harmful, the dosage would have to be 25,000 times higher than that used to preserve products.13 The same research claims that estrogenic effects caused by doses of parabens received from consumer products are insignificant compared to natural estrogens and other xenoestrogens, meaning that people are exposed to more estrogens from a myriad of other sources and in larger doses than from cosmetics.

The debate continues

A large number of consumer groups and environmental organizations are questioning the current research that attests to the safety of parabens in cosmetics. There is reasonable evidence that there is estrogenicity in parabens, both natural and synthetic, but the relevance of this link to breast cancer is tenuous without more research, which is urgently needed.

Spa professionals should educate their clients using the facts about parabens. After that, let clients make their own choices. Carry the best and most efficacious products, and consider carrying a line that does not contain parabens if you believe it will meet your clients’ needs.

There is no way to end the controversy about the safety of parabens without objective, controlled, double-blind research into the matter, which has yet to be published. The debate continues.


1. EJ Routledge, et al, Some alkyl hydroxyl benzoate preservatives (parabens) are estrogenic, Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology, 153 12–19 (1998)