Is paraben-free really safer? Not necessarily. Many cosmetic products are removing parabens from their products because it is desired by consumers. However, any product that contains water and is not refrigerated requires a preservative to inhibit bacterial growth in the product. Therefore, companies are just replacing parabens with another preservative, commonly Kathon-CG, also known as methochloroisothalizolinone. The Kathon preservatives have a inferior safety profile compared to parabens. They also cause a higher incidence of allergic contact dermatitis. In fact, most of Europe has banned the use of Kathon preservatives in leave on products, only allowing them in rinse off products such as conditioner.
It is important to note that preservatives in cosmetics are generally very safe and should not cause alarm. The bottom line is you don’t have to ditch your favorite products that contain parabens, unless you have a true allergy. True allergies involve redness, itching, and a development of a rash in the areas exposed to the product containing parabens. If you feel you might have a reaction to parabens, consult with your dermatologist. Your dermatologist may recommend that you undergo patch testing to determine if you have a true allergy to parabens.