Japanese Honeysuckle

🤓 Time to get a little nerdy, and also uncover the mystery behind why “Japanese Honeysuckle” is a blacklisted ingredient and one that I don’t allow in our home. It definitely makes the leaderboard for most misleading preservatives… it sounds so innocent, right?!

Parahydroxy benzoic acid is the main chemical compound found in Japanese Honeysuckle. It is also the SAME compound that inspired chemists to create parabens. In fact, the name parabens comes from PARAhydroxy BENzoic acid. So, how can the company say that their product is paraben-free if it contains the original para-ben?


The consensus in the cosmetics industry is that the term “parabens” only applies to synthetically-produced parabens. When synthetic parabens were first created, they were the golden child of the cosmetics industry and everyone was using them. They’re easy to formulate with, and cheap. That was until consumers started learning of their estrogen-mimicking properties and links to breast cancer. The word has spread, and now there’s a huge market for paraben-free products. So, cosmetic supply companies started coming out with paraben alternatives. One of those companies is Campo Research: makers of the “Plantservative” – Japanese Honeysuckle Extract.


When a chemical company invents a new ingredient, they decide on a standardized name for it and submit it to the INCI database. Campo Research decided on the name so they’d have a highly-marketable product: a preservative that has a natural-looking name on the label. One that could hide among other natural ingredients, making the product look so very pure. And, technically speaking, be “paraben-free.” And while the extract is indeed “natural,” (for the most part–one grade of Plantservative uses phenoxyethanol as the extraction solvent) that doesn’t mean that it’s harmless.


Parahydroxy benzoic acid was studied in 2005 for its estrogenic properties. The study says:
“It can be concluded that removal of the ester group from parabens does not abrogate its oestrogenic activity and that p-hydroxybenzoic acid can give oestrogenic responses in human breast cancer cells.”


In other words, it doesn’t matter if the paraben has a methyl, propyl, or butyl group, it’s the parahydroxy benzoic acid itself that acts estrogenically. But, because you technically (by the etiquette of the cosmetics industry) can’t call parahydroxy benzoic acid a “paraben,” these companies get away with saying that their products are “paraben-free.”


Additionally, research shows us that Japanese Honeysuckle Extract is created using very sophisticated technology, (nanoparticles, Collusion-Induced Dissociation, etc) contains salicylic acid (a chemical with quite a few risks), contains a small amount of butylene glycol, and is made up of other unknown compounds that do not ocurr in nature. Is it the worst ingredient in the world? Nah. Is it one that I personally avoid? Yes! Now that you have ALL the information on the ingredient, you too can make an informed decision. Check the comments for a list of companies still utilizing this ingredient in some of their products…