It's a label being used more and more often: paraben-free. But what exactly are parabens and why are some researchers concerned about their widespread use?

Parabens are a group of common chemicals used in many cosmetics and skin care products, including deodorants, moisturisers and soaps, to preserve them. They're controversial because researchers in the United Kingdom recently studied 40 samples of tissues from breast cancer sufferers and found that parabens were contained in every single sample. Another study by the US's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that the common parabens, Methylparaben and Propylparaben were found in the urine of most people that they tested, indicating widespread exposure in the US population. Concerns have long been raised about a possible link between parabens and breast cancer as they possess oestrogenic properties.

Of course, much more research needs to be done to get to the bottom of whether there is a link between parabens and breast cancer. But while the jury is still out, Pharmaoil will not be using any parabens in our products. We also do not use parabens because they a known skin irritant for those who suffer paraben allergies, causing contact dermatitis and rosacea in these sufferers.

Common parabens include methylparaben (E number E218), ethylparaben (E214), propylparaben (E216) and butylparaben. Less common parabens include isobutylparaben, isopropylparaben, benzylparaben and their sodium salts.

Yours in skin health,