The great Paraben debate

Banner parabens

By this time most people have at least heard the word “Paraben” and have an inkling that it’s something to be avoided, hence the cascade of products, including Whet Lubricant, that have labels (ex)claiming that they are “paraben free”! But how much of this is based on fear-mongering (or Green-washing) and to what extent should be really be concerned about our products containing Parabens.

Firstly, let’s clarify what Parabens are and how they are used. In a nutshell, Parabens are derived from para-hydroxybenzoic acid (PHBA) which occurs naturally in many fruits & veggies including blueberries, carrots, cherries and onions.  They have been used since the 1950’s in many products to prevent the growth of bacteria, yeast and mould, which is almost inevitable without the use of some type of preservative. According to the Chemical Safety Facts Organization, these are the same PHBA’s found in our bodies naturally due to the breakdown of certain amino acids, and the “Parabens used in cosmetics are identical to those found in nature, and the human body quickly changes them into natural PHBA and eliminates them”

Back in 2005 when we first started manufacturing Whet Lubricant, Parabens were the default preservative. Methyl and Propyl Parabens, in their specified and minute, quantities provided excellent protection for the product against microbial organisms, bacteria and mould and offered a highly acceptable shelf life, which appeared beneficial for both the producers and the purchasers.

At a point, studies* showed that Parabens COULD potentially mimic the activity of the female hormone estrogen, causing endocrine disruption. Estrogen has been implicated in the occurrence of certain types of breast cancer and has been found in breast tumours, so it is not surprising that they soon got a bad rep. These studies* were conducted in animals and involved dosing the animals with extremely high amounts of parabens (far greater that humans would be exposed to either under actual conditions or with repeated use. Most of these studies have since been largely discredited by scientists and no direct link has been found between cosmetic products containing parabens and cancer.

In the case of a personal lubricant, one is using it on some of the most sensitive and absorbent body tissue, so it makes sense to play it safe. For this reason we stopped using Parabens in any form several years ago (watch out for labels that list them as Alkyl parahydroxy benzoates). There are several preservatives that provide an alternative to Parabens, and from our perspective it seems wise to play it safe. We use a combination of Sodium Benzoate and Potassium Sorbate in our current Whet water-based lubricants and are continually in a process of research and development as guided by the latest research as well as the feedback from our clients and the increasingly knowledgeable and discerning consumer.

To purchase our paraben-free Whet Personal Lubricants contact Allure Sensuality for RETAIL orders and

WHOLESALE and CUSTOM BRANDED orders email Whet Personal Products; info@whetlube.co.za

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