Parabens: Preservative of the Past?

Believe it or not, parabens were once a formulator’s dream. Perhaps the ideal preservative, parabens were revered for being stable in most formulations, non-irritating, non-toxic, and with a negligible environmental impact that would make most natural-loving consumers quite happy.  But now that parabens have received negative press they’re a formulators nightmare. Why? Because formulating without them is such a challenge, and the evidence linking them to harmful activity is lacking.

What is a paraben?

Parabens are esters of para-hydroxybenzoic acid. The most commonly used parabens are methyl, ethyl, propyl and butyl parabens. Numerous parabens are often used in formulations to ensure optimal solubility and preservative coverage throughout each stage of formulation.

Why do we need preservatives?

Although cosmetic formulations are made under sterile conditions, finished products are not used under such regulated conditions. They are used at home, and most spend their lives in bathroom cabinets or on icky sink-sides. We need preservatives to inhibit the growth of mold and bacteria. Preservatives are used to protect the consumer from micro-contamination, while also protecting the integrity and stability of the formula ingredients. Microorganisms have been known to alter the stability of other chemicals, so in order to ensure the best experience possible, formulators rely on preservatives to provide this protection.

Are they really bad for you?

Parabens have received a bad rap for their association with a 2004 UK study entitled “Concentrations of Parabens in Human Breast Tumours” led by P.D. Darbre, in which parabens are thought to cause breast cancer tumors.  Additional studies were carried out to prove this same fact but each was found to be flawed and none could  support the link between parabens  and cancer.

One reason researchers sought to uncover this link is that parabens are thought to resemble the hormone estrogen, acting as a “xenoestrogen”, or “foreign” estrogen in the human body. However, parabens are between 1,000 and 1 million times less potent than estrogen and you would need to be exposed to a huge amount in order to be effected.

Some scientists have tried to link xenoestrogens to phytoestrogens such as soy, which also resemble estrogen and have similar effects on the human body.  However, the estrogenic effects of soy are welcomed in anti-aging products because they are thought to enhance the moisture and elasticity of postmenopausal skin. Whether they are likely to have any effect in a topical capacity at such a low concentration has yet to be proved.

Marketer’s Responsibility

So far the studies linking parabens with tumors are inconclusive. P&G responded to the paraben scare by changing nothing. They continue to use parabens in all of their products because they know it is a passing fad with no credibility. They even have a section on their website where you can learn more about paraben safety.

The FDA also released a statement assuring us that Parabens cause no harm.

As manufacturers and marketers we are all responsible for educating the public about the safety of parabens. Some marketers have responded by bending over backwards to see that “paraben-free” be added to their labels, but this only perpetuates the public’s understanding that there must be something wrong with parabens.  If you are unsure whether parabens are safe, please read the facts before making your decision about which preservative system to use. You may be one person, but by going paraben-free with your next product you are sending the message to thousands or even millions of consumers that parabens are harmful. Please think long and hard before you help an unproven cancer link snowball into an industry standard.


A Crash Course in Stem Cell Cosmetics

Dior Capture. Klein-Becker Amatokin. XTemCell. Renew Plant Stem Cell.

Stem Cells are popping up everywhere. Online, on the news, in magazines, and now–on your face? From QVC to Neiman Marcus, everyone is getting a piece of this exciting new technology. The question is, what makes them so special? And are all stem cell products the same?

First, let’s get one thing out of the way. There are no stem cell products on the market that use any form of human or animal stem cells. Most companies opt for plant-derived stem cells, or special extracts shown to help stimulate our skin’s own stem cells.

Wait. Why would we want to stimulate our skin’s stem cells? Put simply, as we age, our healing and repair processes slow down. Epidermal growth factor (EGF), another hot word in cosmetics today, is depleted and regeneration slows down. Apoptosis (cell death) accelerates. Collagen and elastin breaks down, forming gaps in your tissue, and on the surface they manifest visibly as wrinkles. In many ways, wrinkles are like wounds.

That’s where stem cells come in. We all have them in our skin. Mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) are completely unspecialized, and lie beneath the epidermis. Some products claim to activate these stem cells, though generally it is not desirable because these cells can become any type of cell: bone, tissue, blood etc. MSC can lead to unregulated cell division, or cancer. But let’s be serious. Can a cream that claims to stimulate MSC really activate cells that deep down? It’s doubtful. If it could, it would be making headlines.

What you want to activate are Epidermal Stem Cells. These cells have already been specialized to form tissue that you actually WANT in your skin, like collagen. There are few ingredients on the market that do this. Many of them are marine-derived. Almost all of them are plant-derived. The key to building a product is to learn as much as you can about the technology that’s out there. Study ingredients. Do your homework.

For more information on new, cutting edge ingredients, give us a call. We can help you find the perfect ingredients for your product. We can make your dream a reality.

Email Zoe Weisman at or call 773-572-4378 for more information on how to improve your cosmetic or OTC product or get your new brand started.

Plant Stem Cells

Plant Stem Cells

UV Damage–The Unseen Killer

What’s lurking beneath YOUR skin?

They say there is no such thing as a healthy tan, and not all sun damage is visible to the naked eye. This is because every time you are exposed to UV rays, your skin must work to defend itself against DNA damage. When we are young, an enzyme known as OGG-1 within your cells is capable of repairing this damage. As we age, these enzymes are depleted and our ability to repair damage slows down.

The result? Accelerated aging. Cells cannot repair themselves from UV damage and DNA dimers form. Your fibroblasts produce less collagen, and excess sugars causes the collagen and elastin in your skin to become brittle. Wrinkles form and skin loses elasticity. Hyperpigmentation (sun spots) also appear as a result of your body’s attempt to protect your precious skin cells from further UV damage.

The bottom line? You may think that your skin is healthy,  but you aren’t able to see the accumulation of damage that causes an “aged” appearance: wrinkles, hyperpigmentation and a slackened skin tone.

Young Woman in her 20's with a Flawless Complexion

Young Woman in her 20's with a Seemingly Flawless Complexion

For most of us it is too late to simply throw on a sun hat, slather on some sunblock or avoid the sun completely. Luckily, there are ways to help accelerate your skin’s repair of UV damage using naturally derived extracts. These extracts stimulate your body’s natural ability to repair your skin and help to reverse sun damage accumulated throughout days spent in the sun.

These UV damage-fighting ingredients and other exciting new technologies are available through Concept Laboratories. You can’t avoid the sun completely, but you can help your skin repair itself faster. To learn more about creating your own UV damage reversal products, contact Samantha Schroeder at (773) 433-8079 or email

New Year, New You

The advent of 2009 is an opportunity for us all to reflect upon our past and discover ways to better our future. Our health is priceless, and while the dollar may not be as strong as it once was, consumers are finding inventive ways to preserve their youth without breaking the bank.

Thanks to the abundance of scientific research driving the cosmeceutical industry, Concept Labs is able to develop products that really can help people make positive lifestyle changes to improve their health and appearance, so that they look and feel better.

Forget the knife. We now know that a dedicated anti-aging skin care routine can help prevent the kind of skin damage that leads people to resort to risky procedures. 2009 is the year that we will take our health into our own hands. Preventative skin care can ward off signs of aging before they start. And it’s never too early to start!

In honor of the New Year, we would like to share a couple of our favorite age defense ingredients:

UV Inhibitors– These natural, fruit-derived time-stoppers help prevent DNA fragmentation and protect important cell structures from UV damage. In vivo studies have shown a 25% protective effect against UV irradiation. The application of UV Inhibitors also showed a significant reduction in Erythema (redness of the skin) after exposure to sunlight. Less sun damage= a more youthful appearance!

“’Somes” have made their way into many high-end anti-aging skincare formulations. These marine-derived wonders help repair DNA damage generated by UVA and environmental damage, including pollution. They work by accelerating the repair of your skins own mitochondrial DNA, which encourage fibroblasts to generate collagen and elastin. Mitochondrial protection is a hot new area for anti-aging because these energy-producing powerhouses are essential for optimum cellular metabolism.

Want to find out more? Don’t hesitate to contact us! These anti-aging ingredients (and plenty more) are available now through Concept Labs.

Have a safe, healthy and happy new year!

What to look for in a Contract Packaging Provider

If you are considering a contract manufacturing and packaging provider to meet your production needs, be sure to set clear goals so that you can maximize your profits. So long as you have a product and market in mind, a strong contract packaging provider like Concept Labs can help you find the most effective and cost-efficient way to meet your goals.

Outsourcing your packaging operations is an excellent option if your product volume exceeds the capacity of your own manufacturing capabilities. Not only will you produce a larger volume with a faster turnaround, you will gain access to a diverse range of new and innovative packaging solutions.

Concept Labs can relieve you of the pressure and stresses that accompany business deadlines and allow you to focus on other important factors, like advertising. And if you need assistance with marketing, advertising, product innovation or label design, Concept Labs‘ creative team can deliver unique solutions that will enable you to build a competitive product.

Whatever your professional requirements, Concept Labs can help you rise above the competition while catering to your own price range.

A Note to our Customers

If you are trying to find a product manufactured by Concept Labs at a retail store, and it is out of stock, you can most likely find it at Pure Valley.

One of our most popular products, Reventin® Therapeutic Facial Complex, is a silky moisturizer brimming with anti-aging extracts that softens lines after just one use. This nourishing moisturizer uses deeply hydrating Mango Butter, Sweet Almond Oil and Vitamins A and E, along with Licorice Root Extract to brighten dull complexions.

Whether you are looking for one of our many wrinkle-fighting moisturizers, skin lighteners, or pain relief products, you are likely to find them at Pure Valley’s online store. For questions or comments, please contact


Power-Packed Formulas

Want a power-packed formula that will keep your customers coming back for more? Concept Labs can help! We can take your pre-existing formula to the next level and reformulate it to be more effective and more efficient.

You may have a decent product, but can it thrive in the face of tough competition? We can put that much-needed twist on your basic lotion or cleanser and boost it’s marketability using the newest, cutting edge ingredients.

A Few of our Capabilities



Timed-Release Delivery

Skin Plumpers

Wrinkle Fillers

Instant Lifts

Advanced Pain Relief


Super Peptides

Hair Removers & Minimizers

Whatever your needs, our talented team of chemists can give you the competitive edge you need to come out on top.