Methylparaben is an ester of p-hydroxybenzoic acid. It is a fine crystalline powder, which is odourless, tasteless and non-irritating.
Methylparaben is a preservative: a substance that is added to food and other products to keep them fresh for longer. It prolongs the freshness of a product by punching holes in bacterial cell walls or membranes, much like pulling the plug out of a bath. This means that the bacteria is unable to reproduce and the product remains fresh.
EU regulations state that 0.4% of a formula can be composed of methylparaben and 0.19% made of propylparaben. Lush uses half this amount in order to limit disruption to an individual’s protective microflora - tiny organisms on your skin that protect you from harm. Conventional cosmetic shelf life is around 30 months to account for time spent in storage, but because we make our products by hand and they leave our factory within 21 days, we don't need to use maximum levels of preservative. By eliminating months or even years spent in the back of a warehouse, we can reduce the amount of preservative needed to keep a product fresh and so, on average, our products have a 14 month shelf-life. This low level of use also helps with the bio-degradability of our product and any waste material created during manufacture.
We also formulate our products without synthetic preservatives wherever possible, but sometimes need to use them to ensure customers get an effective and lasting product. We assess the need for preservatives by considering many factors: the type of product, its structure, manufacturing process, ingredients and application. Using this information and microbiological tests during product development, the appropriate preservative is then selected. Lush uses a maximum of two synthetic preservatives in any one product: either a team consisting of two types of paraben: methylparaben and propylparaben, or a team consisting of the chemical compound 2-phenoxyethanol and an alcohol called benzyl alcohol.
Parabens occur naturally in some fruits such as blueberries and synthetic parabens have been used since the 1920s in food preservation. They are permitted by every world health authority and 500 independent safety studies have been carried out over the decades. Our parabens come from a company that has sustainable principles and recycles water and power as much as possible. We use the best parabens we can find - regardless of price.
We also constantly review and investigate cosmetic preservatives, and we consider any sound scientific evidence. The parabens we use are safe to handle during manufacture and guarantee the quality and safety of the products we want our customers to enjoy.