The David Suzuki foundation reports that 75 to 90 percent of cosmetics may contain parabens. Parabens are used commonly as a preservative, and they easily penetrate the skin. The European Commission on Endocrine Disruption lists parabens as a category 1 substance, shown to be an endocrine disruptor. Parabens have also been detected in breast cancer tumors, suggesting a link between them and cancer. Parabens go by the following names: Methylparaben, butylparaben, propylparaben, isobutylparaben, ethylparaben, polyparaben and isobutylparaben.
Parabens are added to facial and cosmetic moisturizers as a common preservative. Used to moisturize facial skin, these moisturizers are used by women of all ages. In fact, the editor's at SkinBio.com recommend you use facial moisturizers to slow down the loss of moisture from the skin. Moisturizers work by creating an impermeable barrier on the face that gives the skin a plump and full appearance. Dr. Alan Rockoff, a board certified dermatologist in Boston, suggests using Vaseline as a moisturizer for sensitive skin.
Anti-aging creams are used to minimize wrinkles and firm up the facial skin. The Food and Drug Association classifies anti-aging creams as cosmetics, and does not check these products for effectiveness. Parabens are often in the list of ingredients for anti-aging creams, as they are a common cosmetic preservative. Anti-aging creams are typically used once or twice a day and may cause side effects such as rashes, skin irritation or redness.
Foundations are used on the face to mask blemishes and to make the face appear smooth in texture and color. Liquid and powder foundations often contain one or more types of parabens as preservatives to allow the product to have a longer shelf life. Some newer foundations on the market, specifically mineral wear foundations, are being manufactured to be paraben free. Foundation formulations include: a liquid form, a loose powder form and a compact powder form.
Not widely known by consumers, fragrances often contain parabens as well. Manufacturers are not required to label the ingredients in a fragrance, since fragrance recipes are considered trade secrets. Labels must contain the word “fragrance” but not the details as to what that fragrance contains.