Parabens are Used to Make Sure Bacteria Doesn't Grow.
Parabens are molecules present in 85% of personal care products. They're simple to use, stable, and keep bacteria from destroying all the ingredients in personal care products. The bacteria they inhibit can irritate skin, too, so it's best to keep them at bay. However, there's a lot of gray area with the molecules, so we like to be cautious.
How do I Know if a Product Has Parabens?
So What's the Big Deal About Parabens?
If they're in 85% of products, they must be safe, right? Well...
The Truth is, the FDA's Pretty Unsure.
The Food and Drug Administration says they're investigating the molecule for "paraben-related health effects" and the "possible hazards of parabens." While they've approved parabens for use in cosmetics, they take a more liberal approach: innocent until proven guilty.
There's Some Strong Evidence for a Guilty Verdict.
WebMD reported on a recent study which found that when parabens were put into contact with heregulin, a compound present in breast tissue, cancer cells needed 100x fewer parabens to grow. This means that parabens were shown to stimulate cancer cell growth in breast tissue. And if you think about 85% of products having parabens in them, that's a lot of accumulation in the blood stream over time.
That's enough evidence for us to keep it out of our products. If one test in one lab showed that a compound stimulated cancer cell growth, we can use something else. In fact, we picked phenoxyethanol phe·nox·y·eth·a·nol (-fĭ-nŏk'sē-ěth'ə-nôl', -nōl'), a naturally-occurring compound in green tea and chicory. It's much safer than a paraben-based preservative.
We Love Phenoxyethanol. Really.
While it's the 1% that makes us 99% naturally derived, we're willing to live with it. In fact, it's approved by the much-more-stringent European Economic Community cosmetics directive and has been for over 20 years. This is based on stringent testing and no reports of irritation at levels up to 2.2%. Even Japan approves of it.