Polyparaben - The Most Dangerous Of Them All


After running into the name Polyparaben a few times during a recent research session on cosmetics ingredients, my curiosity got the better of me and I simply had to take a bit of time to investigate further.

Was Polyparaben some new paraben type that had just hit the market? My initial search showed this was not the case.


A Scientific Term For Cosmetics Insiders?

'Poly' comes from Greek and means multiple or many, so perhaps polyparaben was a term used within some circles to describe 'a mix of parabens'. Even though I'd never seen or heard it used as such, it certainly wasn't impossible. But no.

The Hazard Warning

It was because I came across Polyparaben on a cosmetics ingredients watchlist that I really got serious about researching this paraben. The watchlist categorized Polyparaben as having a Hazard Warning. The reason? 'due to lack of information about this ingredient'.

No wonder. It may be their lack of information is due to that fact that there is no such ingredient as Poly-paraben.

Meet The Parabens

These are the parabens that have been/are being commonly used in cosmetics ingredients. 
- Butylparaben
- Isobutylparaben
- Ethylparaben
- Methylparaben
- Propylparaben
- Isopropylparaben

There are others (such as Heptylparaben, but I have never come across this particular paraben in the world of cosmetics and skin care)

Of the above listed, the following parabens are at present under study due to possible hormonal interference:
- Butylparaben
- Isobutylparaben
- Propylparaben
- Isopropylparaben

Leaving these 2 parabens (still) on the OK list:
- Ethylparaben
- Methylparaben


How Was Polyparaben Born?

What I think happened: someone misread, mispelled and/or mispronounced propylparaben, passed the 'information' on to someone else, and voilá – the most dangerous paraben type of all was born – the nonexistent one!

PS: If you're wondering which cosmetics ingredients watchlist had Polyparaben listed with a hazard warning, I can only say: I politely decline to name names.

UPDATE

As of December 2010, the SCCS has approved butylparaben and propylparaben for use in cosmetics.

More info in the comments below.

Comments

Dene said…
Great post that nicely exposes one of the many faults in EWG's Skin Deep database. For a more comprehensive discussion on the usefulness of this database, check out:
http://personalcaretruth.com/2010/05/skin-deep-scratching-below-the-surface/

Just to bring your post up to date, the EU Scientific Committee for Consumer Safety have now determined that propylparaben and butylparaben are safe for use in cosmetics up to a combined total of 0.19% (with the total paraben concentration remaining at a maximum of 0.8%). As yet, no-one has asked the SCCS to evaluate polyparaben!
Lise M Andersen said…
Hi Dene,

Thanks for your input! I am so pleased to hear they have cleared propyl- and butylparaben for cosmetics use. I'd love a link to more info on that if you have it. :)
Dene said…
Hi Lise,

Below are links to two of the eleven articles I have written on parabens on www.personalcaretruth.com - these two refer specifically to the SCCS opinion - and there is a link to the SCCS document within the articles.


http://personalcaretruth.com/2010/12/parabens-in-perspective-part-vii/

http://personalcaretruth.com/2011/01/parabens-in-perspective-part-x/

Happy reading!
Lise M Andersen said…
Thanks so much for your valuable input Dene!
Rachel Lewis said…
From what I understand, polyparaben was actually a manufacturer's mistake first - it then got copied from a label and spread around like a bad rumor.
Lise M Andersen said…
Hi Rachel, I've actually heard that too (since writing this post). It could very well be true. :)
Anonymous said…
Vaseline lotion lists polyparaben as one of its ingredients.
Lise M Andersen said…
Hey there Anonymous - I just did a quick search and found propylparaben, but no polyparaben. Can you tell me which of their lotions you mean? They have several lotions....
Meredith said…
Loved you comments on parabens! Just what I was researching...would love to hear all your thoughts on the Sodium Laurel Sulfate fiasco!
Thanks,
Meredith :)
Lise M Andersen said…
Hi Meredith - Thanks so much for your kind words. I have actually done a few posts on bath products where SLS is included, but haven't really concentrated on the politics and misunderstandings about SLS-- you may have just inspired a new blog post!

:)