Iā€™m Kristel. I vlog. I blog. Professional makeup artist based in Manila. 300 hours training in Make Up For Ever Academy, Seoul, South Korea. I live makeup, you have no idea.

Think Piece, Think Please: Why I'm Not Against Parabens

Hey everyone! June shaped up to be a great blogging month for me as I was able to post a bit more frequently and yet still found enough offbeat and non-formulaic posts to do.

Let me continue that trend on to July :)

I am very opinionated about many things and I thought I'd start a series in my blog called Think Piece, Think Please. In here, I want to tackle public misinformation, personal confusions/reflections or other beauty issues I feel strongly about.

source. I should learn to photoshop. I hate linking to horrible articles.

For the first installment, I want to talk about a great annoyance to me: The Public Misinformation on Parabens.

The Rage Theory:

I've always had this notion that either the organic movement or the scaremongering media started this wholly unnecessary fear. A quick Google page 1 research shows that I am indeed correct (as always! -kidding.)

A 2004 study in the Journal of Toxicology (details here) published findings that parabens were found in cancer-stricken breast tissue. As paraben sounds "synthetic" and "chemical," scare-mongering media latched on to misleading soundbites, making it seem like parabens in our makeup and deodorant accumulate in our tissues and cause the cancer. Organic companies in turn, copy-pasted this idea to turn the public toward their terribly overpriced, nondurable formulations.

Hey woman! Spend 5x more on our product. It lasts 2 months as compared to 2 years, but don't worry, that's just the price of NO-CANCER!

The Catch:

The study never proved paraben's causation of breast cancer. Neither was it able to establish any effective link between the two. Darbre's study merely found the presence of parabens in cancerous breast tissue, and that lead to the discussion of how parabens slightly mimic estrogen. Substances that mimic estrogen are known to have adverse implications on cancer but it did not find enough evidence to link paraben itself to cancer (scope and limitation, y'all!) 

To put things in proper perspective, the US FDA allows up to 25% paraben content in cosmetics and recognizes that the industry averages at a paltry 0.01 to 0.3% paraben content. The recommendation has been established as far back as 1984, and was reviewed as recently as 2003 and 2005, with no change in the recommendation.


Take for example, the needless highlighting of four parabens at the bottom of this product's ingredient list. For neophytes to the Ingredients-List-Readers community (proud member of the Order of the Toilet here!) the chronology of the ingredients is according to concentration. So Aqua goes first, meaning, this product contains water in the largest proportion to the formula. And so on and so forth.

Given how much water is usually in a product, the FDA's 0.01 to 0.3% paraben estimate doesn't seem to be far off. Even if we consider an individual count of the four parabens, it's still not enough to come close to 25% of the formulation.

Plus, it's not like the skin will absorb 100% of the paraben you put on it. Skin absorption has always been a weak method of ingestion. You'll normally find doctors doling out intravenous injections or oral drugs for a huge majority of patient needs because barring a few topical concerns, those two are the best ways to introduce drugs to your system.

The Horrible Side Effect:

And now you've got a sizeable population of women absolutely terrified that 30 years of MAC will give them paraben boobs. That's just not fair. First of all, longer lives just means more cancer. Our cells simply freak out after a certain number of reproductions because we are mere mortals. Nobody gets to live forever and if not by accident, we eventually die from organ failure or sickness, e.g. the corruption of our reproducing cells. Don't blame your makeup.

Unless you consume 200 paraben pills everyday, I doubt you would get sick from the small amount of it required to shoot up your makeup's life span. 

Regardless of the ready availability of this information, a terribly undeserving market is profiting off of the more easily consumed misinformation.


Organic companies are so talented in fear-mongering against chemicals, that they were able to penetrate an existing market by offering more expensive yet easily perishable goods. In a normal economy, that business model would have never succeeded. You can only penetrate an entrenched market by either: lowering your prices or offering better quality. That's it.

Organic offered neither of those.

Ten years after the innocuous publishing of that study, here we are with a booming organic market. These companies have created the illusion of value while discrediting a perfectly good product. I hate it so much!!!

My Stand:

Just to be clear: I'm not necessarily pro-chemical nor even anti-organic.

Makeup should be judged by its performance... Not by its ingredients and much less, their imagined side effects. If all a product's merits are being non-carcinogenic, then it probably wasn't good makeup / body wash / body scrub to begin with anyways. There are already tons of non-carcinogenic items in the market...

Including many factory-made, "synthetic" makeup.

If your support for organic goods is a matter of taste, I have no problem with that. To each his own, I say. I get the appeal of being closer to nature and taking care of your body. I enjoy a few organic products myself.... But if you avoid parabens at all cost just because chemicals and synthetic stuff scare you, I suggest to take a closer look around you. Maybe the next time you get sick, just boil some leaves instead of taking some man-made paracetamol.

(Short) Reading List
  • Parabens: Are They Really a Problem? (Paula's Choice) - This easy-to-digest article debunks a lot of discomfort around parabens. Interesting to note: it mentions how parabens are naturally-occurring in some plants. It also has a lot of evidence on how dermatologists and countrywide organizations vouch for the safety of the use of parabens as preservatives in cosmetics.
  • Parabens (US FDA) - This is also an easy-to-digest product profile on the background of paraben application and the history of its regulation in the United States.

Anyone who wants to read the opinion of anti-paraben people can read the sources on my pictures. They're not very good sources because I don't care about being anti-paraben (hah.)

Monthly Skincare Snippets: Laneige Essential Care Trial Set (Light) for February 2014!

Mask of the Moment: Too Cool For School McGirly Rice Wine Secret Whitening Gel Mask