On 3 May 2013, the EU Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (SCCS) published an opinion on the safety of parabens in cosmetic products. Parabens are currently authorised as preservatives in the EU Cosmetics Directive at a maximum concentration of 0.4% when used individually or 0.8% when used as a mixture of esters.
To evaluate if the way parabens are being used is safe, the SCCS has repeatedly reviewed the scientific data on potential health effects. Over the years, it has been the opinion of the SCCS that the continued use of methylparaben and ethylparaben as preservatives in cosmetics at the maximum authorised concentrations is considered safe for human health. However, concerns have been expressed as to the potential endocrine-related toxicity of propylparaben and butylparaben. The SCCS has in the past adopted the view that the use of propylparaben and butylparaben as preservatives in cosmetic products is considered safe to consumers as long as the sum of their individual concentration does not exceed 0.19%.
In a review of the most up-to-date scientific information, the SCCS confirmed that for the smaller paraben molecules (methyl-and ethyl paraben), the concentration levels specified in the Cosmetics Directive are still considered safe for human health, and for the longer paraben molecules (propyl- and butyl paraben), the SCCS confirmed its previous recommendation to lower the limit to a maximum total concentration of 0.19%. There are other, less used, parabens (isopropyl-, isobutyl-, and phenylparaben) for which only a very limited amount of information is available, and the potential human risk could not be evaluated by the SCCS.