In this work, a novel molecularly imprinted polymer (MIP) proposed as solid phase extraction sorbent was developed for the determination of propylparaben (PP) in diverse cosmetic samples. The use of parabens (PAs) is authorized by regulatory agencies as microbiological preservative; however, recently several studies claim that large-scale use of these preservatives can be a potential health risk and harmful to the environment.
Diverse factors that influence on polymer synthesis were studied, including template, functional monomer, porogen and crosslinker used. Morphological characterization of the MIP was performed using SEM and BET analysis. Parameters affecting the molecularly imprinted solid phase extraction (MISPE) and elution efficiency of PP were evaluated. After sample clean-up, the analyte was analyzed by high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). The whole procedure was validated, showing satisfactory analytical parameters. After applying the MISPE methodology, the extraction recoveries were always better than 86.15%; the obtained precision expressed as RSD% was always lower than 2.19 for the corrected peak areas. Good linear relationship was obtained within the range 8–500 ng mL−1 of PP, r2 = 0.99985. Lower limits of detection and quantification after MISPE procedure of 2.4 and 8 ng mL−1, respectively were reached, in comparison with previously reported methodologies. The development of MISPE-HPLC methodology provided a simple an economic way for accomplishing a clean-up/preconcentration step and the subsequent determination of PP in a complex matrix. The performance of the proposed method was compared against C-18 and silica solid phase extraction (SPE) cartridges. The recovery factors obtained after applying extraction methods were 96.6, 64.8 and 0.79 for MISPE, C18-SPE and silica-SPE procedures, respectively. The proposed methodology improves the retention capability of SPE material plus robustness and possibility of reutilization, enabling it to be used for PP routine monitoring in diverse personal care products (PCP) and environmental samples.