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Parabens and Preservatives

Parabens and Preservatives…

Most of us prefer preservative free, and "good ingredients" in products!
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 Product preservation is a common factor between all product lines.  Anti aging products contain peptides, and other ingredients that require the presence of preservatives.

Several natural based preservatives are under evaluation for use, but have not passed regulations for non-contamination in products, past 12 months. Like Grapefruit Seed Extract, they may not be recognized in the global arena as broad-spectrum preservatives that prove stable long term to prevent contamination at the required levels to pass approval. Back in 2006, the Global Cosmetic Industry reported, “The area is a minefield… Finding alternatives to Parabens that meet safety levels and shelf-life expectations is proving a major challenge.”

Mr. Hooper of Body Blue products notes, "There are some brands on the market that have exploited a loophole in the regulations in order to claim preservative free," he insisted. "If a raw material used in the product is preserved unnecessarily, or is over preserved using any preservative--whether synthetic or natural--then the preservative does not have to be listed on the ingredient deck. This is misleading to the consumer and is potentially damaging to the whole industry."  

What risks exist for preservative free, or inadequate preserved products? Dangerous ones. Let's look at some of the contamination issues, and organisms commonly seen in products, and the physical results.

Health A to Z writer, Diane Griffith, in her article entitled “Contamination at the Cosmetic Counter”, cited a study done by New Jersey Rowan University professor, Dr. Elizabeth Brooks who tested skin, eye and lip makeup from over 20 cosmetic companies and found molds, fungi, and E.coli.

Brian Perry, PhD in his article entitled, “Cosmetic Microbiology” published in Microbiology Today, Vol. 28/Nov 2001 states, “Organisms commonly isolated from poorly preserved water-based products include Klebsiella, Enterobacter, Staphylococcus and Bacillus species, Pseudomonas, including P. aeruginosa, Burkholderia cepacia, Penicillium and Candida albicans. Gram-negatives are most common and, as they have very diverse metabolic capabilities, can survive in a wide range of environments. They are often introduced through water supplies.”

Daniel K. Brannan, in his book entitled, Cosmetic Microbiology: A Practical Handbook, reports the presence of common bacteria cutured from cosmetics and personal care products including:

Streptococcus pyogen “S. pyogenes is the cause of many important human diseases ranging from mild superficial skin infections to life-threatening systemic diseases. Infections typically begin in the throat or skin. Examples of mild S. pyogenes infections include pharyngitis ("strep throat") and localized skin infection ("impetigo"). Erysipelas and cellulitis are characterized by multiplication and lateral spread of S. pyogenes in deep layers of the skin. S. pyogenes invasion and multiplication in the fascia can lead to necrotizing fasciitis, a potentially life-threatening condition requiring surgical treatment. Infections due to certain strains of S. pyogenes can be associated with the release of bacterial toxins. Throat infections associated with release of certain toxins lead to scarlet fever. Other toxigenic S. pyogenes infections may lead to streptococcal toxic shock syndrome, which can be life-threatening.” Aspergillus “Aspergillus species are highly aerobic and are found in almost all oxygen-rich environments, where they commonly grow as molds on the surface of a substrate, as a result of the high oxygen tension. Commonly, fungi grow on carbon-rich substrates such as monosaccharides (such as glucose) and polysaccharides (such as amylose). In humans, the major forms of disease are: 1. Allergic aspergillosis (affects asthma, cystic fibrosis and sinusitis patients). 2. Acute invasive aspergillosis (risk increases if patient has weakened immunity such as some AIDS patients and those undergoing chemotherapy). 3. Disseminated invasive aspergillosis (widespread through body).” Serratia marcescens “Only pathogenic species of seratia - tends to colonize in the respiratory and urinary tracts - since 1960' s classifed as an opportunistic pathogen in pneumonia and respiratory infections.” Stachybotrys sp “The genus Stachybotrys species, of which Stachybotrys chartarum (also known as S. atra) is the most common, is capable of producing mycotoxins, which can affect occupants producing both mucosal and neurological symptoms. Acute exposure can cause severe symptoms. All species produce mycotoxins that may be lethal to animals if eaten. The presence of Stachybotrys sp. is often overlooked due to the fact that it is difficult to isolate from the air. However, Stachybotrys sp. needs a substantial amount of water and a suitable nutrient substrate (cellulose) to initiate growth. Most often Stachybatrys sp. is only isolated from bulk and/or swab and tape surface samples where conditions are favorable for growth. It is possible that Stachybotrys sp. could exist in other locations that have been subjected to persistent water intrusion.”

The decision then becomes, which preservatives do we use?

Behentrimonium Methylsulfate is an ammonia-based preservative and irritant, TEA and DEA (Tri and Diethanolamines) are known mutagenic compounds, and Hydroxymethylglycinates have a tendency to break down into formaldehyde. Only Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate, and Methyl and Propyl Parabens pass the full spectrum 12-month non-contamination requirements. As a result, many Asian countries require 0.05% Methyl and Propyl Parabens in products, for product entry, including Japan, who in 2007 added Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate, as an alternative.  

Although Methyl and Propyl Parabens can be derived from natural sources, the majority of companies that utilize Parabens, use petrochemical based Parabens. Valid concern remains both in the scientific communities, and the public, with the possible hormonal influence on the body from Paraben use.

Methyl and Propyl Parabens have a history of over 50 years of use in cosmetics, personal care products and food. They are not known to be mutagenic, or carcinogenic. They are linked to estrogenic activity. In the January 2005 issue of the Journal of Applied Toxicology, Darbe, P. et al presented studies of Parabens in 20 breast tumors. The authors stated the importance of studies on normal breast tissue to measure any existing levels of Parabens to determine if a difference exists between normal and cancerous tissue. In October 2002, The Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Marick, D. et al of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, reported a case-control study of anti-perspirants and deodorants. No linkage was found to increase the risk of breast cancer.

In July of 2005, Global Cosmetic Industry reported a study done in 1995 of 215 cosmetic products, which showed 99% of all leave-on products and 77% of rinse-off products, contained Parabens. The use of Parabens in anti-perspirant and deodorant products is still being reviewed. No distinctions are made between the source of Methyl and Propyl Parabens. The anti-perspirants also contained Propylene Glycol, which is significant. Propylene Glycol, aside from being a petrochemical and the basis of anti-freeze, is a solvent. Methyl and Propyl Parabens are lipid-based compounds. Propylene Glycol is able to act as a transfer to drive the Methyl and Propyl Parabens deeper into the tissue where they will seek out lipids, for example breast tissue.

Methyl and Propyl Parabens can be synthesized from plant tannins and terpines, as well as petrochemicals. This process can cause confusion. Sometimes phenols are used, which are a class of organic compounds that contain a 6-member aromatic ring bound to a hydroxyl group. Phenols are responsible for the fragrance of essential oils, and have anti-oxidant properties. Parabens are esters. Esters are a combination of an organic acid and an alcohol. Many fats and oils are esters, and many esters are used for artificial flavorings and fragrances, such as: Ethylheptanoate, which smells of grape and Pentyl Acetate, which smells of banana. Methyl and Propyl Parabens can be derived from plant and some animal sources. For example, Propyl Paraben is a Propyl ester of p-Hydroxybenzoic Acid, which can be from petroleum distillates, and can also be found as a natural substance from plants and the scales of animals.

Many preservatives also act as a neutralizer, which can negate the effects of acid-based anti aging ingredients.

Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate (IPBC) is the preservative of choice for many natural, and baby products. A highly effective broad spectrum preservative, IPBC passes full microbiological testing. Commonly used in baby products, the only cautions are as IPBC is Iodine-based. It should not be used in spray products, or at product levels higher than 2% of the formulation. When companies use a broad spectrum preservative in low amounts, it is not necessary to add other preservatives, this allows for a purer product.

The USA based National Institutes of Health, toxicology website through the National Library of Medicine makes some distinctions on Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate. Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate is a broad spectrum, fungicide preservative with a long history of use. First, combined with other preservatives and used in amounts of up to 97% in paint and sealants, Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate is now a favorite with environmental architects who find the short half-life and non-toxic, non-carcinogenic, non-volatile properties of Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate to benefit green living and working environments.

A type of Carbamate fungicide, there are also Carbamate herbicides and Carbamate insecticides, according to the National Institutes of Health, Carbamate fungicides do not affect the body in the same manner as Carbamate insecticides and pesticides. Carbamate insecticides and pesticides inhibit the cholinesterase enzyme, “Reported toxic manifestations have included CNS depression, seizures, extrapyramidal effects, neuropathy, and gastrointestinal effects of nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. These agents are often compounded with hydrocarbon-based solvents, which may be responsible for toxicity.” Internet searches reveal clinical studies on animals with Pesticidal Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate, these results have been reflected in articles to create issues with humans, “a mutagen in animal testing”, when it is not the same compound.

As in all preservatives, skin irritations, and allergic reactions can occur. When reviewing many of the medical articles on contact dermatitis and Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate, it is interesting to note the base compounds used in the studies include petrolatum and known irritants. Just as Methyl Parabens can be derived from tree bark, and Propyl Parabens from animal scales, Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate itself can also be solvent derived, or water based. Medical studies do not differentiate which compound was used. NaturDerm products use an organic acid-based aqueous (water), non-solvent based Iodine salt preparation of Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate.

A study of 4,883 patients over 18 months reported that test findings of Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate in a base of petrolatum showed a reaction rate of 0.3%, and was not able to elicit significant allergic reactions at a concentration of 0.1%, and recommend further studies at a higher level of 0.3%. “The preservative Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate: frequency of allergic reactions and diagnostic considerations.” Schnuch, A. et al. Contact Dermatitis 2002 Mar; 46(3): 153-6. A second study of 3.5 years length with routine patch testing of 3,168 people (2,093 women and 1,075 men) with a cosmetic that contained Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate yielded 7 cases, or 0.3%, to be positive for allergic contact dermatitis. Two of the 7 allergic cases also tested positive for another compound in the product. “Allergic contact dermatitis from 3-iodo-2-propynyl-butylcarbamate (IPBC) - an update.” Brvid, L.E., et al. Contact Dermatitis 2001 May; 44 (5): 276-8.

To meet global requirements and consumer concerns, for the safest most effective product preservation, NaturDerm products contain less than one fourth of 2% of the product formulation, of IPBC.


Images©Alex Merwin All Rights Reserved.

Disclosure:  These are actual stories sent in by customers.  No products, or services were provided.  Customers followed recommended use, which requires daily use.  They are not typical of all customers.  Typical use can expect to see smoothing of the skin within the first week of daily use.

The information contained herein is for cosmetic educational purposes only. It is not to be used for the purpose of treatment, or diagnosis. People with medical or skin conditions should consult with their health-care professional before use. For adult or adult-supervised use. For external use only. Reproduction of this page, use, or links in any form are not permitted. All Intellectual Property, images, information, and/or trademarks on this page are copyright protected. NaturDerm, Inc., GreatNewSkin, ABABA Products, LLC., nor any product line we offer makes no claims, diagnosis, or recommendation for treatment. No intention is given or implied that any product use removes scars or stretch marks. We state only what our customers have shared with us by testimonial, or photo. All testimonials, and photos are personal testimonies of actual product users. Individual results may vary, and depend upon the use of the individual. These comments are not approved by the US-FDA and are intended for informational purposes only. NaturDerm, Inc., GreatNewSkin, ABABA Products, LLC., bears no responsibility for the use of information provided herein. The US-FDA has not evaluated any statement made herein, No liability is to be taken by NaturDerm, Inc. or any of its employees, or subsidiaries for any complications arising from any use or misuse or otherwise of any product, or information. Copyright protected. All Rights Reserved. 1998 -forward NaturDerm, Inc., GreatNewSkin, ABABA Products, LLC.