Propylparaben is a synthetic preservative. An ester of p-hydroxybenzoic acid, it is a fine crystalline powder, which is odourless, tasteless and non-irritating.
Where do we get it?
Lush UK purchases propylparaben from a company in India that has sustainable principles and recycles water and power as much as possible.
With seven manufacturing sites across the globe, this information may vary depending on where your Lush products were made.
What are the benefits of propylparaben?
This preservative prevents bacteria, moulds and fungi from growing and multiplying, keeping product blends fresher for longer.
Controversy and regulations
Parabens have been used since the 1920s in food and cosmetics preservation. Due to the controversies surrounding them, they are some of the most studied and documented synthetic materials and yet have a safe reputation - if used in the right amounts and with the right compounds. We still remain on the lookout for any new studies and follow the regulations (and are actually way below them). In the EU, propylparaben can make up to 0.14% of a formula whether it’s used with other parabens or on its own. Lush formulas use a concentration of only 0.1%. However, due to their delicate skin, products with propylparaben shouldn’t be used on babies’ nappy area until the age of 3.
At Lush, we strive to remove synthetic preservatives from our formulas and make everything self-preserving. However, some formulas still need preservatives to work efficiently on the skin and hair without turning after a few days. This is where propylparaben is useful as it prolongs the shelf life of cosmetic products by inhibiting the growth of bacteria, yeast and mould.
We make fresh, handmade products, and by minimising the time between the preparation of the product and its sale, we reduce the need for preservatives. We also prefer making products that are meant to be used fresh (but always lasting long enough for you to fully enjoy), rather than adding large quantities of synthetic preservatives. Low use of them means better biodegradability too.
Many factors come into play when deciding which preservatives to use: the type of product, its structure, the manufacturing process, the ingredients, and the application. Using this information and microbiological tests during product development, the appropriate preservative is then selected, whether natural or synthetic.