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Avoid Paraben Preservatives in Rosacea Skin Care
Paraben preservatives, alkyl esters of p-hydroxybenzoic acid, including methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben and butylparaben, are problematic components in virtually all mass-marketed cosmetics including facial cleansers, shampoos, conditioners, moisturizers and make-up.
Parabens are included in products to prevent growth of bacteria, fungi and mold and to extend shelf life up to and beyond the point of opening.
Most skin care products containing parabens have a shelf life of approximately 4 years.
Despite their widespread use, paraben preservatives produce overt and subclinical allergic and other undesirable reactions in rosacea patients' skins.
Overt reactions include dermatitis (itching, dryness, scaling) and inflammation (redness) which deteriorate the health and appearance of the skin.
Subclinical reactions are those which don't produce symptoms visible to the naked eye or which aren't generally sensed by patients, nevertheless these also deteriorate the skin's potential to function healthily.
Although patients are quick to spot potential overt reactions to skin care products, subclinical reactions are a greater concern for the undetected damage they produce.
Subclinical reactions may be diagnosed by patch testing using a doppler laser, a relatively expensive and time-consuming procedure unavailable to the public at large.
Because almost all skin care products contain paraben preservatives, there is likely associated damage accruing in rosacea patients' skins.
Unless a skin care product containing paraben preservatives is producing superior net improvement in your symptoms, you should discontinue its use.
Paraben Preservatives in Skin Care and Cosmetics and Systemic Absorption
When applied to the skin in products, paraben preservatives are absorbed through the skin and travel through the bloodstream and tissues (Crit. Rev. Toxicol. 2005; 35:435-58).
Small amounts may also be absorbed orally through accidental ingestion in facial cleansers and shampoos.
Paraben Preservatives in Skin Care and Cancer
A study published in January 2002 (J. Steroid Biochem. Mol. Biol. 2002; 80; 49-60) found a high concentration of paraben preservatives in breast cancer tissue:
Dr Philippa Darbre of the University of Reading School of Biological Sciences is currently studying the oestrogenic actions of parabens.
The US FDA is conducting (very slow) research into the estrogenic effects of parabens:
endocrine disruptors are chemicals that interfere with the endocrine systems, leading to adverse effects. Some chemicals do this by binding to receptors, such as the estrogen and androgen receptors. Currently, most in vitro and in vivo data are derived from assays that measure estrogenic activity, and fewer data are for assays that measure androgen activity.
The FDA Endocrine Disruptor Knowledge Base consists of a "biological activity database, relevant literature citations, computational models, and ultimately, models for risk assessment."
Paraben Preservatives and Sun Damage
Rosacea is encouraged and worsened by daily light exposure, irrespective of season or cloud coverage.
A recent study (Methylparaben potentiates UV-induced damage of skin keratinocytes — Toxicology , Volume 227 , Issue 1 - 2 , Pages 62 - 72) demonstrated that the paraben preservative methylparaben worsens skin's response to daylight:
UVB exposure significantly increased cell death, oxidative stress, NO production, lipid peroxidation and activation of transcription factors in MP-treated HaCaT keratinocytes. These results indicate that methylparaben, which has been considered a safe preservative in cosmetics, may have harmful effects on human skin when exposed to sunlight.
Always use a suitable rosacea sunscreen when using skin care products containing parabens.
Conclusions for Paraben Preservatives in Rosacea Skin Care
Although paraben preservatives are generally thought to be suitable for patients without rosacea, and at the very least do not provoke obvious skin reactions, our extensive clinical experience with rosacea patients confirms the relative harmfulness of this ingredient.
Patch testing of patients' skins comparing response to parabens on rosacea-affected facial skin vs forearm skin proves that the ingredient causes additional inflammation that encourages free radical damage engendering a variety of rosacea symptoms.
When patients discontinue paraben-preserved skin care there is occasionally initial breakout associated with the skin detoxifying itself, however ultimately it achieves a healthier state of functioning (and appearance).
This mild detox-reaction is sometimes misconstrued as harmful and leads to failed treatment and a worse prognosis.
Rosacea Treatment Clinic Skin Care and Paraben Preservatives Content
A variety of factors allow us to avoid the use of parabens in the clinical rosacea skin care products:
The home-use products are stored at 20 degrees centigrade / 68 degrees fahrenheit for no longer than 2 weeks post-formulation prior to delivery.
Store at similar temperatures away from direct light and use within four months of opening.
Author: Gina Verginis.
Reviewed: Friday, 5 July 2013.
Further Information: Rosacea Skin Care Resolutions : Travel and Smaller Sizes : Anti-Inflammatory Creams for Rosacea : Healing Rosacea Skin Care : Rosacea Flare-ups : A Protocol for "Confused" Skin : Skin Immunity References : Order of Application Including Metrogel (Metronidazole) : Preservatives in Skin Care and Skin Irritation : Lavender is Toxic to Skin Cells : Relatively Deleterious Properties and Ideas in Skin Care : Unfortunate Aspects of Mainstream Skin "Care" : (Non)Comedogenicity of Skin Care Ingredients in Rosacea Skin Care Products : Rosacea Skin Care Ingredients : Avoid Paraben Preservatives in Rosacea Skin Care : Rosacea Treatment Basic Daily Protocol — PDF :