Spotlight on ingredients #2: Parabens

Spotlight on ingredients #2: Parabens

Posted by Phil Houghton on

What are Parabens? 

Parabens are a ubiquitous preservative used in cosmetic products; they prevent the growth of harmful bacteria and mould. In short, parabens give products a longer, more stable shelf life. The most commonly used parabens are Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Butylparaben, and Ethylparaben.

Are they safe? 

There are some that think that parabens pose a danger to our health and others that think that this concern is unjustified. Dr Philippa Darbre falls firmly in the first camp. Her 2004 study found traces of parabens in breast cancer tissues. Ms Darbe followed up with study with a larger study in 2012. The results confirmed the earlier findings but saw even higher paraben levels in human tissue.

These results seem to align with a 2010 Danish study which found parabens in the urine of men that had topically applied lotions containing parabens. Their conclusion was that parabens are absorbed through the skin.

It is also worth noting that some research has shown that some parabens have been shown to be weakly estrogenic.

The critics 

However, Ms Darbre’s studies have many critics including the American Cancer Society. They claim that neither Darbre study shows that parabens caused or contributed to breast cancer development only that parabens were in tissue. This is a claim accepted by Ms Darbre.

 Importantly, bodies tasked with consumer safety within the EU and USA have concluded that parabens are safe for use in cosmetics.

Velettà's view

It appears clear that there is no evidence to support the claim that parabens cause cancer. However, we do believe that it is wise to be cautious about parabens as those studies that show some weak estrogenic activity, their ability to penetrate the skin and the fact that they have been found in human breast cancer tissue.  


For these reasons, our preference is to avoid parabens. Our products use highly effective natural preservatives instead of parabens. We use them in our facial Rejuvenating Oil and Cleansing Oil and Purifying Mask as an added precaution (your safety is our paramount consideration) given these products are waterless and therefore means no bacteria. You can read more about the preservatives we use in our ingredients glossary.  


It’s up to you to decide whether you wish to use products containing parabens. What we believe, is that it is important that you have a choice.



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