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Methylparaben – Why?


Preservatives are added to products for two reasons: 

1) To prevent microbial spoilage and therefore to   prolong the shelf-life of the product; 

2) To protect the consumer from a potential infection.

International Journal of Cosmetic Science (Vol. 31, No. 3, June 2009)


What are parabens?

Parabens are a family of preservatives that are used to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria and mold in perishable goods. Parabens are naturally occurring in some foods, such as blueberries, strawberries, and olives. Formulated parabens used most commonly in oral care is methylparaben. Other forms found in food and cosmetic products include propylparaben, butylparaben, and ethylparaben.

Are parabens safe?

Parabens have been used safely since the 1930’s and have also been subject to numerous and comprehensive safety checks.  Despite this, their use has been questioned since 2004 when the University of Reading, U.K. published health related findings relating to parabens.( 

Their conclusions have since been thoroughly investigated and are controversial by scientific experts.  It was identified that the research did not examine a control group of healthy tissue for traces of parabens and could not guarantee that the equipment used to conduct the study had been cleaned using paraben-free ingredients.

Subsequent validation studies led by the same chief researcher, The Scientific Committee of Consumer Safety, concluded that there was insufficient data to establish a link of harmful effects and parabens.

With the significant subsequent research conducted, many experts believe that they are safer than other alternatives. “I feel absolutely sure that parabens are safe,” says Dr. Edmund Fowles of EF Chemical Consulting Ltd. “As a result of all the fuss about the potential risks, there has been exhaustive research, which has covered all angles. Paraben-free products simply use a different type of preservative, which will have been much less rigorously researched, so how can we say that it’s better?” (source: Lush Cosmetics).  The European Union has publicly stated that Methylparaben is safe as confirmed by the Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (SCCS). (

Does ORL use parabens?

ORL prefers to use natural and organic ingredients and we are working hard on eliminating this synthetic preservative from our products. In the meantime, however, we do use a trace amount (<.5%) in our products to guarantee stabilizing our 7.0 pH balance.  Our belief is that the most important benefit of ORL products is achieving a perfect 7.0 pH balance so your mouth can naturally remineralize, whiten and freshen in the safest possible manner.

How do parabens work?

Different parabens have different ways of stopping microbes from spoiling a product. Methylparaben punctures holes in bacterial cell walls or membranes, similar to pulling the plug out of a bath. This means that the bacteria are unable to reproduce. 

What is the law on parabens?

The strictest regulation is the European Union (EU) regulation. The maximum amount of methylparaben oral care companies can use is decided in relation to the entire make up of a product. Per this regulation, 0.4 percent of a formula can include methylparaben.  The EU has much stricter policies around preservatives in oral care ingredients than Canada or the United Sates.