EU to ban selected parabens in cosmetics

Following years of debate on the safety of using parabens as preservatives in cosmetics, the European Commission has now acted towards a stricter regulation of parabens. First they have notified the world trade organisation, WTO, of a total ban of five less commonly used parabens (isopropyl-, isobutyl, pentyl- and benzyl esters of 4-hydroxybenzoic and their salts). 

In addition, they are proposing to lower the allowed maximum concentrations of butyl-and propylparaben as well as to prohibit these in leave-on cosmetics designed for application in the nappy area and in cosmetics intended for children under three years of age.

The proposal regarding propyl- and butylparaben can be seen as a response to Denmarks national ban, where they in 2011 banned propyl- and butylparaben in all products directed to children under three years of age. Following the Danish ban, the Commissions scientific committee (SCCS) was asked to investigate the safety of parabens once again, resulting in the current proposals.

- This initiative is a step in the right direction, if yet a small step. The five parabens to be restricted are to date not much used and considering the current evidence, we would have liked to see much more far-going restrictions on propyl-and butylparaben, says Anna Lennquist, ChemSec toxicologist.

ChemSec has earlier called for actions on parabens, which are endocrine disruptive chemicals. Propyl- and butylparaben were included on the SIN List in 2011. 


Report from SCCS 

On-going public consultation 

ChemSec publication on parabens

SUBSPORT report on paraben alternatives