To Paraben or Not to Paraben?
Niki Manesh
Summit Middle School
Floor Location : J 007 H

Parabens are a type of preservative used in about 85% of cosmetics and personal care products, and are known to mimic the male and female androgen hormones testosterone and estrogen, respectively. Parabens, methyl- and ethylparaben, specifically, cause tissue and organ damage and studies have proven that long-term exposure of the preservative to lab rodents causes cancer and birth defects, which leads to the conclusion that parabens are linked to causing cancer, namely skin and breast cancers. Preservatives are essential in cosmetics and skin and body care products, so the use of them cannot be completely omitted, so the only practical solution is to find a less harmful alternative. Rosemary Leaf Extract, Tea Tree Oil, Grapeseed oil, and raw honey were selected to be used as preservatives in this experiment, and were hypothesized to be effective, though less so than methyl and ethylparaben. To test their efficiency at preventing and/or controlling microbial growth in products, the oils and honey, along with methylparaben were soaked into pieces of filter paper and were places onto agar plates streaked with the bacteria e. coli and incubated. This method is known as the Kirby Bauer method and is typically used to test for antimicrobial activity. The diameter of the clearing zone was then measured and compared to that of the other preservatives. The larger of the diameter of the clearing zone, the more effective the preservative was. [Results pending].