pheebs  (avatar)
updated 3 years ago

cosmetics | why "paraben-free" needs to stop | good news


Only a few patches of clouds but the sky is mostly like that this morning

And the weather is so good. There is the sun yes, but the temperature is probably only about 15 LOLOL

Jealous? 😂😂

Cosmetic Science

When I tell people I'm studying Cosmetic Science, this is the reaction I usually get:

No clue what it is

And I also get people who simply relate that to makeup artistry and they think all I do is this:

But I'm probably the last person you want to ask for advice on how to put on makeup or what makeup products are good cause I'm the kind who prefers to go out with a bare face

If I had a choice I probably wouldn't put makeup on for work LOL

okay la, I'm starting to dabble with makeup so maybe when I have more experience with them you can get better advice 😁

So what is Cosmetic Science

I can annoy you by saying "it's the science behind cosmetics duh" but I won't (actually already did 🙄😂)

It's applied chemistry and a touch of biology.

Chemistry, because cosmetic products are made of chemicals

*cue panic and pandemonium*

Stop being silly and think that chemicals = dangerous.

Also, it doesn't mean that if you read the name on the ingredients list and don't know what it is, it's dangerous for you.

I really think it's very irresponsible for brands, bloggers (who claim to be experts) to bash cosmetic ingredients which are perfectly fine and safe.

I mean, yes, the cosmetics industry didn't really have a clean slate to begin with. But nothing horrifying dangerous to your health honestly.

And I think the most ironic thing I've seen was to see a smoker complaining about how parabens cause cancer.

Roll eyes 🙄🙄🙄

But before I go into explaining why parabens are safer than you think, I think I need to back up a little and define "cosmetics" for you


According to the EU Cosmetics Directive, a cosmetic product is defined as "any substance or preparation intended to be placed in contact with the various external parts of the human body (epidermis, hair system, nails, lips, and external genital organs) or with the teeth and the mucous membranes of the oral cavity with a view of exclusively or mainly to cleaning them, perfuming them, changing their appearance and/or correcting body odours and/or protecting them or keeping in good condition."


(Okay need to work brb)

Good news

Got off work!

Today is a pretty awesome day 😁😁😁

Good weather + finally completed my assignment + got my results for term 3 and I did well!


All the tears and hard work was worth it!

*cue gratitude speech and celebratory jig*

But really tho I need to thank my family and friends for all their support and encouragement and well wishes.

They made this past year possible

I'm so blessed :')

Thank you thank you thank you

Okay my post today is damn messy I know I apologise.

Uh uh how do I do this...

Cosmetics (continued)

Cosmetic products sold in Singapore are governed under the ASEAN cosmetics directive which is based on the EU one.

This makes my job easier cause I can explain using the EU one (which is kind of used as the standard)

So perhaps at this point I should give you some examples to illustrate that very uninteresting chunk of text defining cosmetics.

Some examples of products that fall within the EU definition of a cosmetic: shampoo, shower gel, lotions, creams, bath bombs, makeup (duh), toothpaste, mouthwash, perfumes, deodorants, antiperspirants, sunscreens, sun tanning lotions, depilatory creams, hair dyes, etc.

Even someone who claims to be low maintenance will, at minimum, use shampoo, body wash and toothpaste.

That’s 3 cosmetic products already! (heh. with this knowledge you can go disturb some guys now LOL)

Other countries have their own regulatory bodies with guidelines/regulations governing the cosmetics sold in that market.

Hence, some of the products classified as a cosmetic in the EU and ASEAN may not be classified as such in another country.

For example, in the US, the FDA classifies sunscreen as an OTC (over the counter) drug.

In Japan, they have an additional category: quasi-drug (åŒģč–Ŧ部外品 i-yaku-bu-gai-hin) for products like deodorants, anti-aging creams, acne treatment creams, etc.

With definition done let's move on to ingredients!

Cosmetic Ingredients

When you look at the back of a bottle of shampoo or moisturiser, you will find the list of ingredients.

In the EU, it is mandatory for ingredients in the formulation to be listed by the INCI (International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients) names.

Any ingredient above 1% has to be listed in descending order (highest % to lowest %) and then the sequence of ingredients below 1% can be jumbled up and listed in any sequence.

People tend to look at the list of ingredients (LOI) and be a bit intimidated by the names.

Some even think that just cause they don't recognise the name means it's dangerous. (Really no joke the chemophobia here in UK 🙄)

But does chemicals = bad? Petrochemicals = bad?

I don't think so. And experts in this field, having conducted many safety assessments and tests also say there isn't any cause for concern.

And I think there's one ingredient (or a group rather) that got it bad.


Parabens are para-hydroxybenzoic acids (PHBA). They can be found in nature and have been used for more than fifty years in cosmetics as preservatives.

A note on preservatives. They are not bad for you ffs (sorry really angry with irresponsible bloggers who claim that preservatives means products stay unspoiled forever and hence is bad like logic wtf?).

The main purpose of a preservative is to keep products from spoiling due to bacteria, mould or fungi.

Before products are shipped out from the factory, they are tested for their microbial activity.

The limit for the total viable count for aerobic mesophyllic microorganism is <10^3 cfu/g or ml and it MUST NOT contain the following microorganisms:

Staphylococcus aureus, pseudomonas aeruginosa, and candida albans. These are microorganisms that have been identified to cause serious harm to human health.

While Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) ensure that products are not contaminated during manufacture and filling, microbiological contamination cannot be controlled at the consumer level.

Preservatives are NOT added to kill microorganisms present in the product. It is to prevent their proliferation in the case of a contamination!

So back to parabens.

It all started with a study reporting that parabens were found in breast cancer tissue. The researcher conveniently blamed parabens used in antiperspirants and deodorants and claimed that they were the reason for cancer development.

This study was reviewed and discredited after they found no conclusive evidence of parabens being the cause.

Unfortunately, the media had got to it.

And because of information cascade (I quote you, you quote her, she made it up) people started to believe what they read.

That parabens were dangerous.

The safety committee were concerned and they looked into it. No problems. In fact our body does a bloody good job of getting rid of the parabens.

But did people know?

Obviously not.

And lots of marketing departments of companies added fuel to the fire with all the "no parabens", "paraben free" claims

Look, if you didn't read articles about parabens causing cancer but you saw "no parabens" on a bottle, chances are you will think: "Shit that means parabens are bad. Better avoid it"

Even better, if you don't know but you go on the Internet to look it up and you find so many blogs flaming parabens.

So many sources say it's bad means it's bad right?

No 😞

It's all misinformation. Parabens are fine. And they do a pretty good job of keeping your products safe from microbial contamination.

In fact, in the industry, there have been discussions about whether the other preservatives were able to replace parabens effectively.

If you want to read more about parabens, here is a paper published by the Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (EU) on Parabens (

Or this website that is sort of affiliated to the FDA has a handy infographic that makes it more fun to understand (

There are other ingredients that bloggers claim are harmful and I think there is a lot of misinformation and myths surrounding cosmetic ingredients because of how little people know about the industry.

I won't go into them today but I will definitely revisit this another day. #pheebsbustsmyths #pheebstalksparabens

Be informed

Anyone can Google stuff. Anyone can write something and pretend that it's backed up by scientific journals because how often do readers verify sources?

A lot of information out there on the internet on cosmetic science is based on pseudo-science. So many articles are not even true!

So do your research, read critically, get better sources.

And don’t read EWG’s skin deep database. It’s loaded with lots of scaremongering articles meant to lead you to purchase “EWG approved” products which they get a commission for.

Paula’s Choice is an iffy place to be getting your information cause there are inaccurate information here and there. To their credit there are myth-busting articles too. Still, they are making a money out of recommending you products so you have to be sharp.

If you want to read more, the Cosmetics, Toiletry & Perfumery Association (CTPA) has a website ( which provides consumers with facts about ingredients used in cosmetics and on safety of cosmetics.

They are not paid to claim that ingredients are safe, they are just trying to clear the fog of misleading information because of too many websites and blogs that claim this, that and the other about cosmetic products.

If you want more technical information and safety information, you can search up the ingredient by its INCI name on the EU’s Cosmetic Ingredients (CosIng) database (

That's it for today's post on #pheebsskincare and #pheebscosmeticsguide. Hope it's useful for you over at #dayrebeauty

As always, feel free to ask me anything. 😊

And now it's time for me to stop marinating in my filth and go shower. 😂😂

Brb off to lose my life to this cuteness

Day 196

Thursday, 14 Jul 2016

47 18
ellyjul (avatar)

ellyjul I never knew parabens were actually safe! Thanks for the info!

3 years ago

pgtxl (avatar)

pgtxl @ellyjul you're welcome! 😊

3 years ago

vanillabeam (avatar)

vanillabeam @pgtxl interesting read!! there are articles like paula's choice mentioned to avoid alcohol in skincare / to avoid aluminium n talc in deodorant/ cyclohexasilcoxane being ' unsafe' :((( these r so dishearteninf as my pdts contained them

3 years ago

vanillabeam (avatar)

vanillabeam r these ingredients actually ok? piqued my curiousity in the ingredients for skincare pdta hahah

3 years ago

pgtxl (avatar)

pgtxl @fictitiousdream yea try not to read Paula's choice. Aluminium is perfectly safe as well. ☚ī¸ I had a brief look at cosdna, it's probably a decent site to check up what ingredients are in the product (if you have thrown away the box with the ingredient list) but you don't want to be trusting the "safety" column without fact checking with reliable sources.

3 years ago

pgtxl (avatar)

pgtxl @thepurpleswan hahaha if your skin isn't particularly allergic to anything there really isn't any harm doing that. 😂 all cosmetics have to be safety assessed before they hit the EU market

3 years ago

Supermundane (avatar)

Supermundane Gosh I AM SO HAPPY TO HAVE FOUND THIS BLOG!!!!! Doing masters in cosmetic science??? That is SO COOL. Recently I've been so interested in this field, I've been reading so much online that my bf commented I should study to be a cosmetic expert (but sadly I'm doing my undergrad in Economics instead).... Hahaha but srsly I can't wait to read your stuff lol. But first I hve many questions. 1) do you use the app Think Dirty? Do u think it is accurate in terms of its rating? 2) what do u plan to work as in future after your masters??

3 years ago

pgtxl (avatar)

pgtxl @skinnymun thanks!!! I'm glad you find what I wrote useful!

hahaha you can go for a role in a cosmetics company, in the commercial department. No harm checking out this distance learning course by the Society of Cosmetic Scientists (SCS) too (

1) never heard of that app, I need to go home and check it out later but preliminary impression is that it's one of those scare-you-so-you-buy-their-stuff 😕 I'll have a look again later, keep you posted (if you are in sg, you hear from me tomorrow lol)

2) I actually want to be a perfumer! I want to combine my knowledge of both fields (perfumery and cosmetic science) so maybe P&G heh. My masters project will be a combination of fragrance and cosmetic science and I can't wait to get started!!

3 years ago

xsnow (avatar)

xsnow I love your posts hehe so sciencey 😍 gonna take my time and read all your sciencey posts 👍đŸģ👍đŸģ

3 years ago

pgtxl (avatar)

pgtxl @xsnow thanks!! 😁 I was a bit afraid of being too sciencey initially cause I scared nobody understand LOL but glad you like them, enjoy!!

3 years ago

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