So I've said all along that there is no need for alarm about parabens used in skincare products as opposed to other preservatives. It has a good safety history (which is more than I can say for "paraben alternatives" used mainly for marketing purposes) and has been around much longer than almost all the other preservatives.
One of the scare tactics associated with parabens is that they release formaldehyde. This is actually not true of the parabens by themselves. However, if certain preservatives are mixed together (this applies to non-paraben and parabens alike) their combination can indeed release trace amounts of formaldehyde. By the way, formaldehyde is that nasty stuff used to embalm dead bodies or to fix tissues for laboratory work. Actually, it has a ton of uses, but all mainly in the realm of preserving things (that are not alive of course!). This is because it is very toxic and carcinogenic. So the last think we want is to be adding this to our bodies.
This being said, out bodies do produce (extremely small) amounts of formaldehyde as by products of certain processes. In fact, if people drink wood alcohol (methanol) they go blind. This is because the body breaks down that methanol into formaldehyde. It's the formaldehyde that causes this blindness, and, yes, it's permanent.
So here we go . . .
Parabens by themselves and combinations of parabens are NOT formadehyde releasers.
On the other hand, these non-paraben preservatives are in fact paraben releasers and will release formaldehyde in the products that contain them. In short, I would try and stay away from these ingredients if possible, especially if a product contains more than one of the following ingredients (this is because they can additively release even more formaldehyde into the product). So here is the list
Formaldehyde Releasing Preservatives:
- DMDM Hydantoin
- Diazolidinyl Urea
- Hydroxymethylglycinate (click for more on this)
- Imidazolidinyl Urea
- The Urea's, in general