Ageing claims put parabens back under the spotlight

By Simon Pitman

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Cosmetics products Cancer Ageing Ultraviolet

Researchers in Japan say that methylparaben, a commonly used
antiseptic agent for a range of cosmetics products, may cause skin
to age when it is exposed to ultraviolet rays.

The ingredient, which has been connected to occasional skin allergies and skin sensitization in the past, is currently listed as appearing in 3,559 products in the Environmental Working Group's​ database of cosmetics products sold in the US.

It is said to have a strong antibacterial effect, as well as providing a mild stimulation affect that can be beneficial to skin's health.

It appears in a cross spectrum of products, including hair care, styling products and body scrubs. But researchers at the Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine say that they are particularly concerned about a range of topical facial cosmetics products that are often used on a daily basis.

Because the product is included in daily applied powders, foundations, sun milk, and, ironically, anti-ageing products the researchers are particularly concerned by their findings.

"I think women should avoid strong and direct sunshine when wearing cosmetics containing methylparaben,"​ professor Toshikazu Yoshikawa told The Asahi Shimbun/

According to the newspaper report, researchers applied methylparaben to skin in similar amounts to that found in cosmetics products. The skin was then exposed to 30 millijoules of ultraviolet rays per square centimeter - an amount that is deemed to be about the average daily amount of exposure during summer weather.

The researchers results showed that around 19 per cent of the exposed skin cells died, while the fatality rate for skin that did not contain methylparaben was about six per cent.

Furthermore the amount of lipid peroxide - a substance that speeds up the ageing process - was said to be about three times the total of that found in the untreated skin cells.

The researchers believe that these results would mean a higher rate of wrinkling, dark spots and other signs of ageing such as diminished skin tone.

In the past the paraben chemical family has been linked to cancers - particularly breast cancer in women. As a result manufacturers have been moving away from the chemical as ingredients providers strive to come up with alternatives.

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