Japanese honeysuckle extract a hidden paraben?

When I was reviewing the Pai Fragonia & Sea Buckthorn Instant Hand Therapy Cream, I noted that the company made particular mention that they do not use Japanese Honeysuckle in any of its products as preservatives.  I have seen this ingredient on some of the natural/organic products I use and so I was naturally curious and did some quick research about it and was even more surprised to find out that the Japanese Honeysuckle extract is considered as a naturally occuring paraben.

Here’s the info I gathered from Personal Care:

A plant preservative that is based on the Japanese Honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica) is available that is described as being a complex mixture of esters of lonicerin and natural p-hydroxy benzoic acid. The commercial material from Campo is called Plantservative (WSr, WMr INCI: Lonicera Caprifolium Extract). Clearly this is a naturally occurring paraben, and we would expect this material to have antimicrobial properties.

Benefits of Japanese honeysuckle
The same source goes on to state that it has been reported that Lonicera japonica has anti-inflammatory activity and though not as potent as the normal benchmark of prednisolone, it would nonetheless be effective in treating inflammatory disorders. This factor makes the preservative very attractive, since it has benefits for its soothing properties and also has antimicrobial activity. There are not many preservatives that would have this dual benefit.

Slight difference between Japanese honeysuckle and synthetic parabens
Unfortunately, the chemical composition of Japanese honeysuckle resembles very closely to that of synthetic paraben preservatives and their only difference is that Japanese honeysuckle contains a free radical that parabens don’t possess. So going by the strict standards of purists, Japanese honeysuckle is also a no no for natural and organic skin care products.  If you want to find out about the research on the Japanese honeysuckle, you can read articles from the following sources:
Chemical of the day
Green Health Research
Ingredient of the week

Not all natural ingredients are flawless as assumed
So given that the facts are already established, then where does that leave us? My take is this is just an example that not all natural ingredients are always good as assumed. Take some of the citrus essential oils for example. Use too much of them and you might develop photosensitivity. But if listed at the end of a product, I would be less concerned.

My take on the Japanese honeysuckle extract
I don’t think the alternatives to parabens are perfect ones and so it depends on one’s threshold and concerns. This is probably an issue for those concerned about their health but personally, I’m no purist. While I prefer the natural and organic products I use to be as clean as possible, I’ve also stated openly here before that I do not mind using a product that contain mostly natural ingredients with some parabens listed at the end of the ingredient list if I really want to try the product badly enough. So I’m not about to discard my products just because of this new discovery about Japanese honeysuckle.  I have decided that if I really want a pure product, then I might as well just concoct it myself. But I’m glad to have learnt more about Japanese honeysuckle extract as I now know that products that use this ingredient aren’t necessarily paraben free.

© www.vivawoman.net copyright notice


  1. says

    its a naturally occurring paraben so I do not really think one should be overtly concerned about that…i mean come on your product does need to stay safe before being finished or you might end up with god knows what complications…right???I am thinking this paraben stuff is really getting too messy unfortunately!!I read on personal care only and actually discussed it with Dene that only 0.5% of the product is parabens…more than that is not allowed so that less concentration and specially when very less of the product is actually absorbed through the skin shouldn’t really be so problematic…

    • sesame says

      The purists are arguing that companies that use this ingredient can’t state that their products are truly paraben free. Well, I would agree with that. And they are also saying that there is no difference between natural occuring or synthetic parabens in terms of the potential health hazard.

      Well, even for synthetic, I don’t necessarily think it’s that bad if it’s right at the end because like what you’ve pointed out, very little is used. Anyway, I agree with you totally…better to have a good preservative then have products that turn moldy quickly or are full of bacteria. Anyway, most other alternative preservatives aren’t perfect either.

    • Risia says

      Well that is true that it might not be harmful for ONE product that your using but when you put on 7 layer or more of different type of product that contain o.5 paraben, it all adds up. Shamp0o, lotion and makeup [blush, powder, foundation, concealer, and etc] sound pretty scary to me, and what I read was that what we eat we absorb 70% of it and what we put on our skin is close to 99%

      Correct me if I’m wrong though,

  2. fwy says

    I am currently trying out the Guardian Organic Olive Body Lotion. Not all the ingredients are natural, however, Guardian never state that the product is all natural either. So i guess it is up to one to decide whether to purchase such products or not.

    • sesame says

      But they had a special label that states that they use certified organic ingredients and if I’m not wrong, it’s only one ingredient so still misleading.

        • sesame says

          Oh they have? I haven’t seen it. Must open my eyes to check…perhaps only at certain big branches. I usually get my supply from the supermarket. Last time used to travel to Nature’s Glory at Tan Boon Liat but ah…too far.

  3. opemi says

    I think that it is important to realize that people can get a bit too cautious when considering harmful ingredients to avoid. Synthetic parabens are definitely harmful and should be avoided, however naturally occurring parabens are found in fruits like blueberries, where it acts as a natural preservative. I avoid parabens in cosmetics and processed foods, but this doesn’t mean that I avoid blueberries, which are great for health.

    • sesame says

      Good point. I think it’s best not to be over zealous when it comes to such matters. Products without some form of preservatives goes bad real quickly and can be disastrous for our skin too.

  4. Pur et Simple says

    Pai unfortunately claim loud and clear what they are not using, but have refused to tell me what they are using as a preservative – even when I asked them outright over the phone. I feel that they’re not being very transparent and I wonder why they’re so cagey? The full list of ingredients in each of their products is just not available- over the web or elsewhere unless you buy their products first, where I imagine the INCI list must be labelled by law. Has anyone else had this problem with them & Can anyone tell me what they are using?

      • puretsimple says

        Not at all. Vitamine E would provide antioxidant protection (both on the skin but also to stop the other oils in the formulation from going rancid),but no protection against mold and bacteria. And grapeseed oil provides no protection whatsoever- its just an emollient. If you mean grapefruit seed extract,it would provide a certain antibacterian and antifungal action, but not enough on its own- especially as the containers are not even airless. I’m just suspicious that they don’t want to admit to what they’re using and why they don’t make their INCI lists available- do they want to hide something?

  5. Mark says

    If this ingredient is from Japan…..should we be worried about radiation contamination?
    I know the company that makes this perservative is out of Singapore….but do they import the plants from Japan.

    This may be a big concern since Japan is having a huge problem with radiation contamination. The government may be trying to play it down but when the USA is showing high levels in milk and such…Japan is saturated with radiation. No logical thinking person could think otherwise.

    • sesame says

      You raised a good point. In fact, I know one supplier took this off because they couldn’t find a better alternative.

  6. Patrick says

    The person who wrote Chemical of the Day information on Plantservative and the statement that the Lonicera Japonica, stating it contains parabens, has RETRACTED what she said. Why? Because she was wrong, and misinterpreted science. What she originally said has since been quoted by countlless blogs and websites, as being fact, when it is not. Plantservative’s Lonicera Japonica water based preservative does not contain parabens, it contains a particular type of hydroxy benzoic acid, from the plant itself. It also does not act like parabens, which are synthetic and not derived from plants. Some will say, but it is almost identical parabens….that may be true, so what!!!! the naturally occuring type of benzoic acid in Planterservative does NOT behave like parabens do, when it comes to xenoestogenic, etc. and other possible health hazards that parabens cause. There are tens of thousands of natural and synthetic compounds that work differently, with just one different molecule chain, or with just one small chemical component being different. We arejust a a few DNA strands away from being a tree. The ape family of gorillas, etc., the difference is so minimal. You can have a plant that is toxic to humans, but not to animals….orone that is toxic to onlyone kind of birf but not the others. A flower can have a same base chemical component in it, that on the surface looks like it might be toxic like a synthetic version, but can be safe and react differently than a synthetic version…and also with closer research, one can find just one minute difference, that makes all the difference. Some of the same people who say it’s impossible that the naturally occuring type of hydroxy benzoic acid in the preservative Lonicera Japonica has to be the same and have any of the same possible health hazards of parabens, are very naive. There is a reason why parabens don’t show up in any of the independent lab tests that have been done, because there are none in it. It has a type of hydroxy benzoic acid, that not only is slightly different in make up than parabens, but also is working in tandem with a hundred other natural chemical components. It’s interesting that the some people who know that natural plant extracts in the herb world of extracts act differently than synthetic versions, even though they can be chemically almost identical (and even chemically identical) or behave almost identically, but naively are 100% sure that it’s impossible that a naturally occuring type of hydroxy benzoic acid (which also works in tandem with countless other naturally derived components) in a preservative called Lonicera Japonica, acts slightly different than parabens (which are synthetic) and just might also not have any of the potential health hazards that parabens might have. Plantersvative works through enyzmatic reactions, as well, do parabens do this…no. Did you know that just one slight alteration in one chemical can decide if an ingredient is benign, and the other carcinogenic. Just how can that be…even though the MSDS sheets and chemical name of the two slightly different chemicals, have the same name. How is it that just the slightest change in one molecule can render an otherwise stable chemical, explosive. On top of that…can someone name just one plant derived ingredient, that is the whole of the plant itself, and hasn’t been concentrated or gone through some process…..but is a broad spectrum plant preservative that can protect from hundreds of different gram positive and gram negative bacteria, molds, and yeast…….there isn’t one.
    For the Organic Association people, I hate to break it to you, but you would be shocked at how many certified organic plant derived/sourced ingredients in personal care products, contain hidden toxic/carcinogenic/mutagenic/estrogenic/neurotoxic chemicals in them. There’s even certified organic oils that contain PAH’s which are carcinogenic. If there were only certified organic plant derived ingredients and actives that didn’t contain hidden chemicals, and also weren’t processed using one of 7 different extraction methods with solvents as well, there wouldn’t basically be any personal care products…and definitely none that would take care of the wrinkles, age spots, the uneven facial colour, dark circles, etc., that consumers want. There isn’t even 1 effective shampoo that doesn’t have a cleansing base that hasn’t gone through a chemical process. Please don’t say the saponfied oils haven’t…they have. they have used sodium hydroxide to take the fats out. A small amount remains and can be detrimental to skin over time. Saponified oils, like Castile soap, for example, have a high pH for reason, Sodium Hydroxide is alkaline. Another important factor, is that sodium hydroxide is made through electrolysis and goes through asbestos panels or mercury cells. on top of that…..chlorine and sodium hydroxide are made at the same time, you can’tmake one without the other. We all know how bad chlorine is and the dioxin in it. How many of you know most of what was said above? Do you know that just because a label says it doesn’t have parabens, it doesn’t mean that there aren’t parabens in it? They may not have been added byt the brand, but rather, added by the ingredient manufacturer and shipped with parabens in it. Did you know that virtually every cleansing ingredients in shampoos/body washes, etc., contain preservatives in them like formaldehyde, parabens, etc….they aren’t added by the brand, they are added to the drums when they are shipped to the brand that bought them. If one doesn’t even know simple things like the above..how can you know and say negative things about an ingredient like Lonicera Japonica, when you don’t know the difference between a type of hydroxy benzoic acid, how it reacts with other natural components, the enymatic process, etc., how a slight difference in molecules, etc….and synthetic parabens. As well, the complete documentation on exactly how Lonicera Japonica and it’s components work with each other is a secret. Campo gives out the process to make it, but not exatly how everything works with each other, as a company has a right to protect some of it’s knowledge, which can also affect any future proucts it may want to produce.
    Did you know that Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide in sunscreens are not natural and not chemical free. They go through chemical processes when extracted from certain formations and then vaporized etc….at around 900F…with many having other added chemicals that aren’t listed. Did you know that Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide can combine with nitrates on the skin, to produce cancer causing nitrosamines. There is so much going on out there that people don’t know…..but you know 100% positive without any doubt, that Campos’ Lonicera Japonica, which is an amazing breakthrough, and has had endlessstudies and safety tests for over 10 years, is exactly like synthetic parabens and will cause the same potential health hazards as synthetic parabnes.

  7. Jan says

    Hi Patrick,

    Thanks for sharing. I was shocked to learn that japanese honeysuckle was termed as a paraben. It is a herb that is used in Chinese medicine for thousands of years to counteract inflammation and heatiness. If it contains harmful parabens, I think a lot of people would be affected by this herb. Thanks for the detailed information. It seems a lot of people are misleaded that Japanese honeysuckle is harmful.

    • Patrick says

      You’re welcome Jan. There’s just so much that people don’t know. They think it’s simple because they go on the internet and can find information about anything they type in, but soooooo much is wrong. A lot is purported by competing brands, to make their product look better. A lot is simply misinformation, but because it’s on the internet, most people think it’s true. As well, ingredient sites such as EWG, skin deep, etc., don’t tell the whole truth either, they’re a good starting point but shouldn’t be taken as being the gospel.
      It should be noted that most foods such as vegetables, etc., contain naturally occuring parabens or p hydroxy benzoic acid. Perhaps we should stop eating. Perhaps we need some of these things and are a natural process in our being able to live. It should be noted that even if one was to use a product with a synthetic paraben, most of what is absorbed in metabolized.
      I saw a comment about grapefruit seed extract…it’s a poor preservative. The one being used that works okay but not great, only works because of the ammonium chloride and diphenyl hydroxybenzene added to it (which interestingly is not listed on any labels..only the grapefruit seed extract is listed). Without diphenyl hydroxybenzene it contains, it wouldn’t work as a preservative.

  8. Courtney Ball says

    Wow Thank you so much Patrick for your comment. In my quest to make my own personal goatmilk based lotion, I have discovered just how ignorant I was on the topic of cosmetic ingredients, and how duped I was by media into thinking I was knowledgable. I since have grown to respect preservatives immensely and realized many fears of chemicals “because I cant pronounce the name” is without solid foundation. Life is chemicals. chemical reactions are all around/ inside us. I am pleased to see consumer demand spurring further advances in cosmetic developments, and I believe that certifed organic and sustainable ingredients are awesome for our bodies as well as the environment. In the meantime, if I am making a product for anyone other than myself, I am definately using Plantservative without shame! :)


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>