Para-hydroxybenzoic acid is commonly abbreviated using the term parabens. Parabens belong to the family of alkyl esters of para-hydroxybenzoic acid. Parabens mainly differ in the para position in the benzene ring due to various chemical substitutions. There are various types of parabens or para-hydroxybenzoic acid available. However, methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, and benzylparaben are the widely marketed parabens. The chemical substitution provides each parabens ester with different solubility and antimicrobial characteristics. As the length of the alkyl chain of the parabens increases the water solubility decreases and the oil solubility increases. Greater the parabens lipid solubility there will be greater penetration of the parabens through epidermis, which is a layer of skin. Parabens when applied to the skin partially get metabolized in the skin and in subciteanous fat by four carboxyl esterases. The carboxyl esterases metabolize parabens to para-hydroxybenzoic acid and their respective side chains. After the metabolism of parabens, they get easily absorbed in body. They are mainly produced by the etherification of the para-hydroxybenzoic acid with the proper mix of alcohol such as methanol, ethanol or n-propanol. Parabens find a wide range of applications in cosmetics, food and health care industries. They are widely used in products manufactured by cosmetics and heath care industry as it helps in improving the shelf life of various products.
Parabens have several antimicrobial properties which makes it a suitable choice for a wide range of commercial applications. Parabens play a crucial role in killing or hampering the growth of bacteria in various products and also in the individual ingredients. Thus, parabens help in increasing the shelf life and the efficacy of wide range of products. The companies that use parabens in their products have to mention all their ingredients on the labels printed on the jars, bottles, boxes and in the other packaging materials. Parabens is a very crucial ingredient in the shampoos, shaving gels, commercial moisturizers, tooth paste, personal lubricants, spray tanning solutions and makeup among others. Thus, with the growing demand for the cosmetics and several health care products has boosted the overall growth of the parabens market. Parabens are also widely used in the pharmaceutical industry. The companies use parabens in the various formulations in order to avoid contamination of the medicines. Parabens are very effective antimicrobial properties. Parabens are primarily used as bactericidal and fungicidal properties. They are mainly used as preservatives in many types of pharmaceutical formulations. Parabens are also used in the food industry especially in the packaged food. Parabens helps in prolonging and hence, preventing the decay of food. Parabens help in maintaining the freshness of food especially by acting as an antimicrobial agent. However, the major restrain of the parabens market is its easy absorption in the body which is proven to cause cancer especially breast cancer among the individuals using the products containing parabens. Therefore, many companies are conducting research and development to introduce substitute for the products such that it would not have any hazardous effect on the health of the consumer.
Paraben Corporation, Avon Products Inc. and NU SKIN among others are some of the participants of the global parabens market.
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