Phyto Essential Oils, The Old Post Office, 553 Southport Road, Scarisbrick, Ormskirk, Lancashire L40 9RG

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Base Products
Conditioner Base

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Lightweight white plastic jars

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Useful Information

About Parabens
Newsletter 2

The Lavender Story

Part 1 - An introduction to my research and this story
Part 2 - How scientists divide, name and classify life-forms

Dr Jane writes.......


We are asked many times about any potential health effects from the inclusion of parabens in personal care products.  I have researched this and here goes......

Parabens (various names) are used as anti-microbial ingredients in many creams and personal care products.  In other words, their inclusion prevents contamination of the product by bacteria and fungi.  Contamination may well cause serious health problems if undetected.  Parabens have been used for over 35 years now.

The cosmetic and personal care product markets, globally, are worth billions of pounds and sales are increasing annually.  The investigations into ingredients included, and subsequent legislation about their usage is very stringent within the EU and UK.  Safety for the consumer must come first. Not necessarily so in other countries

In my experience over the last 22 years, I have seen many changes indeed in the essential oil and personal care product legislation applied to sales of these products, and cosmetics.  In fact, I do consider there is too much legislation regarding sales of essential oils.  And more is coming along !

Our Consultant Pharmacist, Geoff Farrell (now retired) wrote out some useful information for us all.

Parabens (anti-microbial preservatives) have been approved by BP (British Pharmacopoeia) and Ph EUR (European Pharmacopoeia) and USPNF.

Any cosmetic or personal care product ingredients are subject to legislation which came into law in 2008 called "The Cosmetic Products (Safety) Regulations, 2008 (SI2008/1284)" and it is very comprehensive indeed.

Geoff recommended 2 websites.  The first website, is very big and a bit difficult to navigate.  I suggest anyone wanting to view it should use the"search" facility using "parabens" and then get ready to read pages and pages detailing reports, the experiments, the results of experiments and the criticism of those experiments.

I have to state that we are absolutely opposed to any form of animal experiments and that is our official statement.

Apparently some fears about their inclusion were about the potential effects on the female reproductive system and breast cancer.

Animal experiments were undertaken by some scientists.  These experiments (their design, materials and methods, conclusions) were scrutinised and found to be very poor and lacking evidence to prove the hypothesis.  The hypothesis is the point of an experiment which could well be "An experiment designed to determine any health effects in humans caused by the inclusion of parabens in personal care products".  

So, a group of scientists (or one scientist) will design an experiment to do this.  They usually use mice or rats as the experimental animals as they are mammals and have similar systems (major organs - heart, liver, kidneys, lungs, circulatory system (blood), reproductive system) to humans.  I personally find this appalling as a scientist.  But, the public asks for this information !

So, scientists undertake experiments and write their findings under general headings.  

INTRODUCTION - this details why the experiments are being undertaken.  It introduces the reader to the reason why the experiment is being undertaken.

MATERIALS AND METHODS - arguably the most important part of the experiment and the part most scrutinised by other scientists.  This includes the mouse/rat population being used in the experiment and their history.  It will describe how the animals are either fed increasing amounts of a paraben until either 50% of them die (the LD50 result, ie Lethal Dose to kill 50% of the animal population) or the effects on major organs when applied to the animal's skin.  Obviously to determine any effects, the animals have to be killed and their organs scrutinised using other scientific methods. 

RESULTS - here the results of the experiment are detailed to either prove or disprove the hypothesis.  So, for example, the results could state the an effect of the paraben was found to damage the heart or lungs.  The results could well state that 60% of the slaughtered animals showed heart disease or lung defects.

DISCUSSION - this is where the scientists describe their results and come to a conclusion.

Now, before a scientist can publish an experiment as, for example, a Paper in a relevent-to-the-subject Journal (eg Perfumer and Flavourist) it must go through a peer review.

This means that, prior to the Paper being accepted for publication, the original details of the experiment and all of the data goes to other scientists in the same or similar subject area.  It could well go to scientists in other countries.  The whole point of this is that the experiment(s) are carefully scrutinised by other scientists who look very carefully at, mostly, the Material and Methods sections.

The original experiment and data could well go to 5 or 6 other scientists who are impartial.

They will now report to the editor of the Journal as to their opinion of the experiment and whether or not is should be published.

Once a Paper is published, it then is not the Scientist's "truth", but THE truth.  In other words, if anyone else was to copy the experiment exactly, they would come up with the same results.

In the case of experiments to test the effects of parabens, the experiments were found to be flawed.


Dr Jane'e comments......

I have undertaken numerous experiments to test the hypotheses about the potential of essential oil crops for UK farmers (ie the potential of a successful new non-food crops), the location of the essential oil "factory" in the plant, the analysis of essential oils, etc etc.  See my CV which should be on the Home Page shortly.

Luckily, my Papers were accepted for publication (whew ! wipes brow with hankerchief) and, over the years, I have been accepted as an authority on essential oils, their production and analyses.  And their uses.

Another website Geoff recommended is which is a US site.  I have been looking at this and did not find anything particularly useful.  You may well be more successful.  Let me know via FB if you can.

What I did notice was that the legislation covering product ingredients is poor and virtually anyone can put anything into a product and not even have to state it on the ingredients list !

15 years ago now I decided to create and design a range of personal care products for our Company.  I searched global suppliers, so called "organic" inclusions, so called "natural" products endlessly and found that the very best product I could supply was based on the supply of UK sourced pharmaceutical-grade products with a full list of all ingredients.

Scare stories have appeared in the media about parabens and sodium laurel sulphate.  I am concerned that the presenters of these programmes did not do their research and find the truth. 

However, it makes good telly !  But it is not fair at all on those of us who are genuinly worried and who use products on babies and children.