Parabens used                          in cosmetics1 What are parabens?                                             1 Curr...
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Parabens used in cosmetics

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Parabens are a group of chemicals that
are widely used as preservatives in
cosmetics and personal care products
such as deodorants, shower gels and
body creams. They effectively prevent
the growth of microorganisms.
To evaluate if the way they are currently
being used is safe, the Scientific
Committee on Consumer Safety has
repeatedly over the years reviewed
the scientific data on potential health
effects. Experimental studies in animals
have shown that these parabens have
generally low toxicity and that they
don’t cause cancers.

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Parabens used in cosmetics

  1. 1. Parabens used in cosmetics1 What are parabens? 1 Current limits and molecules (methyl-and ethyl paraben), recommendations this limit is considered safe.Parabens are a group of chemicals thatare widely used as preservatives in EU law allow the use of parabens in For the longer paraben moleculescosmetics and personal care products cosmetics, and one or several of them (propyl- and butyl paraben) thesuch as deodorants, shower gels and can be present in a given product. The Scientific Committee on Consumerbody creams. They effectively prevent maximum total concentration allowed Safety recommends to lower the limitthe growth of microorganisms. in such consumer products is 8 g of to a maximum total concentration of parabens per kg of cosmetic product, 1.9 g/kg parabens.To evaluate if the way they are currentlybeing used is safe, the Scientific with no single paraben having a higher For other, less used, parabens (isopropyl-,Committee on Consumer Safety has concentration than 4 g/kg. isobutyl-, and phenylparaben) only arepeatedly over the years reviewed In a review of the most up-to-date very limited amount of information isthe scientific data on potential health scientific information, the SCCS available, and the potential risk couldeffects. Experimental studies in animals confirmed that for the smaller paraben not be calculated.have shown that these parabens havegenerally low toxicity and that theydon’t cause cancers. 1 re children more vulnerable? A1 Hormone-like activity In 2011, the Danish government decided However, for very young childrenThe main concern regarding parabens to ban the use of some parabens (under six month), the Committee couldin cosmetics is the potential of some of (propyl-, isopropyl-, butyl- and isobutyl- not exclude a risk when cosmetics arethem to act like hormones in the body, parabens) in personal care products applied to the ‘nappy area’. The skinin particular like estrogens, the female intended for children up to three years in this area can become easily irritated,sex hormone. old as a precautionary measure, as and irritated skin can let more thingsIn laboratory test systems and in children might be especially vulnerable through. It is also possible that the theanimals, some hormone-like activity to hormone-like effects. metabolism of young children mighthas been demonstrated for parabens, not yet be mature enough to quickly The Scientific Committee, in reviewingbut this activity is thousands to millions and effectively get rid of the parabensof times weaker than the activity of the argumentation of the Danish government, concluded that the that enter the body.natural hormones. Those hormone-likeproperties seem to increase with the potential increased sensitivity of While the committee considers that itsize of the paraben molecules. So far, children was already covered by has taken a cautious approach in itsother experimental investigations of the cautious approach chosen in its assessment, it calls for further researchthe possible effects on reproduction assessment of parabens. Therefore, in order to reduce uncertainties and toof the use of parabens have been it does not consider that the general more exactly evaluate the potential riskinconclusive and many of them had use of paraben-containing cosmetic for children from parabens containedshortcomings that make their results products is a health concern for children in different cosmetic products.difficult to interpret. of any age group. This fact sheet is based on the scientific opinions of the independent European The detailed and nuanced view of the Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety: “Opinion on parabens”, adopted on European Scientific Committee on Consumer 14 December 2010 and revision of 22 March 2011, and,“Clarification on Opinion Safety on this issue is available at: SCCS/1348/10 in the light of the Danish clause of safeguard banning the use of parabens in cosmetic products intended for children under three years of age”, http://ec.europa.eu/health/scientific_committees/ adopted on 10 October 2011. consumer_safety/docs/sccs_o_041.pdf http://ec.europa.eu/health/scientific_committees/ consumer_safety/docs/sccs_o_069.pdf

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