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What’s the latest on Sulfates and Parabens?

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What’s the latest on Sulfates and Parabens?

Have you read or heard about safety concerns on parabens and sulfates in cosmetic products and unsure of what to make of it? There is so much information on the internet and sometimes it can be difficult to differentiate facts from myths. So when in this situation I always like to know what the experts entrusted with our safety have to say on the matter. I have decided to put together some questions and answers on what I have managed to find out. 


 What is SLS?
 It is a chemical that’s widely used today e.g. in shampoo, hand soaps, hair dyes, skin cream, toothpaste,  household cleaning agents and in many more other products.
 Why do cosmetics have SLS?   
SLS is a surfactant used as emulsifier and cleansing agent due to its foaming properties. For example we all know that oil and water do not mix. SLS allows oil and water to be mixed together. In shampoo SLS traps oil and dirt from the hair allowing it to be rinsed away.
 Is SLS toxic or cancerous?
No. SLS is only permitted to be used in low concentrations in cosmetics. Safety reviews so far have found no evidence of harm from the use of SLS in cosmetic products.
 What is the position of the European Commission and its scientific advisory committee (the Scientific Committee on Consumer Products) on SLS?
Neither has questioned the safety of SLS and both support its use.
 Does SLS have any side-effects? 
The US Cosmetic Ingredient Review (is the equivalent to the European Scientific Committee on Consumer Products) recognises that SLS can cause eye and skin irritation.
 What if someone has sensitive skin or eczema?
The longer SLS stays in contact with the skin, the greater the likelihood of irritation (e.g. burning, stinging, itching and redness) which may or may not be evident to the user.
This is one of the reasons that aqueous cream which is available over the counter in supermarkets and pharmacies is no longer recommended as a leave-on skin moisturiser but it can be used as a wash off soap substitute for dry skin conditions. Interestingly, there’s conflicting evidence that suggests that aqueous cream should not be used as a soap substitute or leave-on emollient because it damages, rather than repairs, the defective skin barrier in atopic dermatitis (eczema).













What are parabens?
Parabens are ingredients used as preservatives in cosmetic products. They prevent bugs from growing in our products and therefore prolonging their shelf life.
How will I know if a product has parabens?
A product has parabens if any of the following are listed as an ingredient: methylparaben, ethylparaben,  propylparaben or butylparaben. These are the only permitted parabens in Europe.
What is the experts’ view on the safety of parabens?
The European Commission has stated that propylparaben, butylparaben, methylparaben and ethylparaben are safe, as repeatedly confirmed by the Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety.
The US Cosmetic Ingredient Review Expert Panel has also endorsed the safety of parabens as preservatives in the present concentration used in cosmetics.
Is there a difference in opinion on safety of parabens in Europe?
Yes.  The Danish government has banned products containing propylparaben and butylparaben intended for children under 3 years of age based on their potential endocrine activity.
While the European Commission has not followed suit with a complete ban as of 16 April 2015, it has introduced a rule that require manufacturers to reduce the concentration of butylparaben and propylparaben in cosmetics products and to avoid these preservatives in products designed for application on the nappy area of children under the age of three.
Which parabens are not allowed in Europe?
Last year the European Commission banned the use of five parabens in cosmetic products - isopropylparaben, isobutylparaben, phenylparaben, benzylparaben and pentylparaben.


I hope that you have found this useful. The good news is that there alternative cosmetic products without SLS and parabens that still work just as well!

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Guest Sunday, 24 February 2019