Oct 11, 2019

Why is Formulate Paraben Free?

We've got the down & dirty on this controversial ingredient.

A lot of people have strong opinions on parabens. Some people avoid them at all costs, whereas others believe they are completely harmless.

But first of all, what even are parabens?

Parabens are natural and synthetic compounds which serve as antimicrobial agents (preservatives). They're very common in household items such as deodorants, toothpastes, lotions, and hair care products. They're used to prevent the growth of bacteria and other harmful microbes. If you've ever wondered why that tube of lotion that's been living in your sock drawer for five years hasn't gone moldy, it's probably because it contains parabens!

You might find parabens listed on the ingredient list of products as:

  • Ethylparaben
  • Propylparaben
  • Butylparaben
  • Methylparaben
  • Isobutylparaben

Cosmetic chemists consider parabens to be incredibly effective ingredients for many purposes: they stabilize emulsions, fragrances, and active ingredients, stop the oxidation of oils, and, of course, prevent the growth of dangerous microbes. Many cosmetic chemists are alarmed by the increasing disregard for preservatives within the personal care industry, and are concerned about the possible effect on consumer safety. Uncontrolled microbes are bad news for consumers - they can throw off the balance of the skin's complex microbiome, which could lead to a potentially dangerous infection. This risk causes chemists and other experts to worry that consumers may be experiencing unfounded fears that will push them to potentially unsafe products.

When it comes to federal guidelines, no scientific evidence produced thus far has been conclusive enough for the United States Food & Drug Administration (the FDA) to consider parabens to be dangerous and in need of government regulation. However, many consumers still take caution to avoid parabens due to a small 2004 study that found a concentration of parabens within the tumors of breast cancer patients. More research is needed to more definitively examine if a relationship exists between parabens and our health, though many experts consider a true relationship to be extremely unlikely.

Here at Formulate, we understand that many consumers aren't sure how they feel about using products with parabens, so we chose to leave them out of our bottles. We use a cutting edge method of preservation that limits the amount of water that microbes need to survive. This method allows us to produce safe, individually mixed products that contain no preservatives. Your peace of mind and confidence in ingredient safety is one of our top priorities, and we're always here to help with whatever our clients need.

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The Formulate Team

Reference List

Lundov MD, Moesby L, Zachariae C, Johansen JD. Contamination versus preservation of cosmetics: a review on legislation, usage, infections, and contact allergy. Contact Dermatitis (01051873). 2009;60(2):70-78. doi:10.1111/j.1600-0536.2008.01501.x.

Heldreth B. Parabens Are Safe. Cosmetics & Toiletries. 2018;133(10):18-DE12. http://search.ebscohost.com.libproxy.wustl.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=asf&AN=133159081&site=ehost-live&scope=site. Accessed October 11, 2019.

Soni MG, Taylor SL, Greenberg NA, Burdock GA. Evaluation of the health aspects of methyl paraben: a review of the published literature. Food & Chemical Toxicology. 2002;40(10):1335. doi:10.1016/S0278-6915(02)00107-2.

Wang Q, Cui S, Zhou L, et al. Effect of cosmetic chemical preservatives on resident flora isolated from healthy facial skin. Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology. 2019;18(2):652-658. doi:10.1111/jocd.12822.

Witorsch RJ, Thomas JA. Personal care products and endocrine disruption: A critical review of the literature. Critical Reviews In Toxicology. 2010;40 Suppl 3:1-30. doi:10.3109/10408444.2010.515563.

Tammy Lisi
Lead Chemist
Caroline Schmidt