So-called parabens guarantee a long shelf life of the product. But is this also associated with a health risk? Parabens are chemically PHB esters (esters of para-hydroxybenzoic acid) and have antibacterial properties, which is why they are often used in the cosmetics industry as preservatives. However, they are also used in the food industry. And even in nature with for example carrots or blueberries. Since about 1940, parabens are used in cosmetics such as deodorant, toothpaste, shower gel, shampoo, creams, etc., to make them long lasting.

Parabens and their bad reputation

According to today's findings, parabens rarely cause contact allergies, according to the IVDK (Information Network of Dermatological Hospitals).

Parabens were also suspected to be carcinogenic and to interfere strongly with the hormone balance. To date, a connection has not been established.

However, based on the assessment of the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment, the following assumptions apply: Methyl and ethyl parabens are to be regarded as safe in the permitted concentration range. With the use of butyl and propylparabens a maximum concentration of 0.19% should not be exceeded, as these contain a higher estrogenic potency. On the already very rare parabens isopropyl, isobutyl, pentyl and phenyl should be dispensed with due to the incomplete data.

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How dangerous are parabens?

The parabens, which are mainly used in the cosmetics industry, have hardly any hormonal effects. The critical study, published in 2004, suggested that parabens might be associated with breast cancer because the acidic substances were found in the patient's tissues. The question of how or in what way the parabens entered the tissue could not be clarified until today. It is also not proven that parabens can penetrate the skin barrier. The substances could just as well have been absorbed through the diet.

Studies by the SCCS (Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety) show that parabens are completely safe for health within the legally prescribed concentration levels. Parabens are very skin-friendly compared to other preservatives and have a low risk of allergies.

Alternatives are already available, but to achieve exactly the same effect as the paraben, usually several chemical substances must be combined. This leads more frequently to contact allergies than when using parabens.

If you still want to do without parabens, it is best to use natural cosmetics with the seal of demeter, Natrue, Ecocert, BDHI or specially designated products with the note: "Free of parabens".

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