SCANCOS Defends Paraben Safety, Addresses Nanoparticles

The Scandinavian Society of Cosmetic Chemists (SCANCOS) defended the safety of parabens and addressed the safety of nanoparticles at its Sustainable Cosmetics Conference, held Nov. 5-6, 2009 in Malmö, Sweden. According to SCANCOS, nearly 120 participants from 11 countries attended the conference to receive the latest news from critical consumer groups, environmentalists, academia, industry, trade associations and authorities in the area.

While the range of talks covered everything from naturals to issues in product development, among them were several regarding regulatory matters. Perhaps the most breaking was a presentation on paraben safety by Colipa scientific spokesman Florian Schellauf, who reviewed data illustrating the metabolism of butylparaben, an often disputed paraben.

According to Schellauf, butylparaben is largely metabolized before entering the systemic circulation, allowing only trace amounts of the substance to be present in the blood stream after topical application. This research refuted studies claiming that parabens absorb into the skin and accumulate in the body, possibly causing cancer. Schellauf's research drums up support for the safety of the effective preservative.

In addition, Schellauf discussed the safety of nanoparticles, finding that their penetration is unlikely and that topical application of zinc oxide of any size would be as harmless as titanium dioxide.

Nanomaterials were also discussed by Annette Orloff, previously of the Danish Environmental Protection Agency and currently with the EU Commission's unit for cosmetics and medical devices. She reported that nanomaterials will be accepted "case-by-case" and noted that the surveillance of cosmetics will be facilitated by the new European regulatory framework Platform of European Market Surveillance Authorities for Cosmetics (PEMSAC).

Michael Dyrgaard Lundov from the National Allergy Research Centre at Gentofte Hospital informed attendees that 67% of the hand care products he tested contained microorganisms. He observed that these microorganisms exacerbated eczema and suggested that the preservatives used in the products were to blame.

Finally, Jeppe Frydendal from Nordic Ecolabelling presented data showing that the Swan label is highly recognized in Nordic countries such as Denmark and Sweden. The philosophy of this label is to accelerate the replacement of questionable substances in cosmetics such as parabens, zinc oxide and nanoparticles.

For more information about the event or to review the complete report compiled by SCANCOS board member Marie Lodén of Eviderm Institute AB, Sweden, visit


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