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Preservatives in Skin Care and Skin Irritation

Preservatives in Skin Care and Skin Irritation

Pure preservatives used in popular skin care products associated with skin irritation. Topical parabens have recently been reported to have weak oestrogenic effects (J. Steroid Biochem. Mol. Biol. 2002; 80; 49-60) leading to concerns about breast cancer. Research is continuing.

In all instances, patients will do better to avoid paraben preservatives in their rosacea skin care if they are able to do so.

Although paraben preservatives are generally thought to be suitable for patients without rosacea, and at the very least do not usually provoke obvious skin reactions, experience with rosacea patients confirms the relative harmfulness of this category of ingredient.

Testing proves that the ingredient causes additional inflammation and free radical damage engendering a variety of rosacea symptoms.

Rosacea patients whose skin has absorbed parabens generally exhibit greater numbers and frequency of papules, pustules and pimples.

Parabens also heighten daily ultraviolet skin damage, accelerating and encouraging sun damage and dry skin.

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:

  • production of only small batches — no stockpiling;

  • advanced, naturally bacteriostatic formulation techniques;

  • small, sterile glass packaging to preserve freshness — for example, products such as Rosacea De-Sensitizing Cleanser and Oil-Free Purifying Gel Cleanser are supplied as 2 x 100 mL and 2 x 120 mL respectively, rather than 1 x 200 mL and 1 x 240 mL;

  • limited, selective distribution
    — not supplied through environments or retailers requiring long shelf life.

Extended Information on Concerns Surrounding Preservatives in Skin Care

For further information, see Avoid Paraben Preservatives in Rosacea Skin Care and Paraben Preservatives and Sun Damage.

For further general skin care information and assistance, refer the section on rosacea skin care.

Contamination Versus Preservation of Cosmetics: A Review on Legislation, Usage, Infections, and Contact Allergy

Cosmetics with high water content are at a risk of being contaminated by micro-organisms that can alter the composition of the product or pose a health risk to the consumer.

Pathogenic micro-organisms such as Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa are frequently found in contaminated cosmetics.

In order to avoid contamination of cosmetics, the manufacturers add preservatives to their products.

In the EU and the USA, cosmetics are under legislation and all preservatives must be safety evaluated by committees.

There are several different preservatives available but the cosmetic market is dominated by a few preservatives: parabens, formaldehyde, formaldehyde releasers, and methylchloroisothiazolinone/methylisothiazolinone.

Allergy to preservatives is one of the main reasons for contact eczema caused by cosmetics.

Concentration of the same preservative in similar products varies greatly, and this may indicate that some cosmetic products are over preserved.

As development and elicitation of contact allergy is dose dependent, over preservation of cosmetics potentially leads to increased incidences of contact allergy.

Very few studies have investigated the antimicrobial efficiency of preservatives in cosmetics, but the results indicate that efficient preservation is obtainable with concentrations well below the maximum allowed.


Journal of Contact Dermatitis: Michael Dyrgaard Lundov, Lise Moesby, Claus Zachariae, Jeanne Duus Johansen. Department of Dermatology, National Allergy Research Centre, Gentofte University Hospital; Department of Pharmacology and Pharmacotherapy, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Copenhagen; Department of Dermatology, Gentofte University Hospital, Copenhagen, Denmark

Examples of Preservatives used in Popular Skincare Products

  • Methylparaben
  • Ethylparaben
  • Propylparaben
  • Butylparaben
  • Benzyl-parahydroxybenzoic acid (p-hydroxybenzoic acid)
  • Methyl-parahydroxybenzoic acid (p-hydroxybenzoic acid)
  • Ethyl-parahydroxybenzoic acid (p-hydroxybenzoic acid)
  • Propyl-parahydroxybenzoic acid (p-hydroxybenzoic acid)
  • Butyl-parahydroxybenzoic acid (p-hydroxybenzoic acid)
  • Parahydroxybenzoic acid (p-hydroxybenzoic acid)
  • Parahydroxybenzoate (p-hydroxybenzoate)

Pure preservatives used in popular skin care products. The majority of preservatives used in skin care products today are sourced from China and India. Topical parabens have recently been reported to have weak oestrogenic effects (J. Steroid Biochem. Mol. Biol. 2002; 80; 49-60) leading to concerns about breast cancer. Research is continuing.

Author: Gina Verginis.

Reviewed: Thursday, 27 May 2010.

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 :


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