Good vs Bad parabens In Your Skincare Products!

We find good and bad in every aspect, So why not search for good and bad ingredients in our skin care products? 

More often, we tend to ignore the science and the ingredients that go into our favourite skin care products. We should think about picking the right ingredients for our skin with more seriousness.

All the products - let it be personal care or home care - have preservatives aka parabens in them.  Parabens are ingredients that are categorised into preservatives, these have gained a lot of controversy in recent times. 

To clear our heads lets understand what are parabens?

Parabens are a group of preservatives that are widely used in topical pharmaceutical and cosmeceutical  products. They are used in cosmetics, skin care products, medications, foods, and industrially in oils, fats, shoe polishes, textiles and glues.

They are cheaper for the mass markets than any other preservative. They are highly effective, hence they are also added to many luxury segment skin and cosmetic products. Parabens started to be added to products in the 1950s.

They are used primarily to prolong shelf life of products and also to prevent growth of bacteria/mould etc within them. In chemical terms, they're a series of parahydroxybenzoates or esters of parahydroxybenzoic acid. The most commonly used parabens are methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, and butylparaben. These are the names you should look for in the ingredient list when you pick a product from the skincare section.

Are parabens safe? 

Unfortunately, no straight answer for this question can be given. The real controversy doesn’t have to do with skin health. Instead, it has to do with the health of your body. The researchers  claim that parabens get easily absorbed by your skin, and they stay in your body tissues and fluids.

According to Veraitch - In recent years there have been growing concerns about the use of parabens in self care products. A British study found 19 out of 20 women studied had parabens in their breast tissue. Researchers also detected parabens in breast milk, serum, urine, and seminal fluid. Parabens were also found in the breast tissues of patients with breast cancer. 

Researchers post notes that parabens can interfere with your body’s hormones, most notably estrogen. As a concerning result, scientists have studied all the possible links of parabens and breast cancers, developmental disorders, fertility issues, and chronic diseases. They found out that the main concern is for endocrine disruption and association with breast cancer.

There is also some evidence that parabens can mimic the effect of oestrogen, which has again in turn been linked to cancer formations and infertility.

Also Read: How Niacinamide Can Change Your Skincare Game

Parabens can also commonly cause skin sensitivities and allergies. These skin sensitivities and allergies occur by repeated exposure of parabens to the skin, and then the immune cells in the skin slowly but significantly mounting an immune response to when parabens subsequently come into contact with the skin. 


Parabens aren’t as bad for you as they portray it to be. Also, the FDA doesn’t have special rules that apply only to preservatives in cosmetics. The law treats preservatives in cosmetics the same as other cosmetic ingredients.

While studies are still being conducted regarding the use of parabens in skincare, there is no proof that their use in skincare harms human health. Even the FDA has not banned the use of paraben. Perhaps, according to EU and FDA, parabens in their current form are officially considered safe to use, since cosmetic products only use a very small concentration of these ingredients in their formulas. It hardly exceeds 0.5% of the total weight of the product.

Safe or good parabens 

Not all paraben are bad. We have some good ones too. Parabens can be widely  bifurcated; each one of them also has its own properties and characteristics (known in the scientific world as chemical, toxicological and beneficial properties) that distinguishes them from the rest. 

So, it’s wrong to consider them all under one umbrella.The most common  and safe types of parabens used in our cosmetics within its safety values are:

  • Butylparaben
  • Ethylparaben
  • Isobutylparaben
  • Isopropylparaben
  • Methylparaben
  • Propylparaben

All these parabens are GRAS (generally regarded as safe) by FDA .Typically parabens are used at levels ranging from 0.01 to 0.3 percent, and the CIR (cosmetic ingredient review) concluded they were safe for use in cosmetics at levels up to 25 percent.

According to the research and test, the results suggest that Butylparaben and methylparaben showed NO estrogenic activity. Other parabens showed a VERY weak estrogenic activity, and that at incredibly high doses. Only minuscule quantities of parabens are used in cosmetics. For example, less than 0.19% of butylparaben is present in a moisturiser, and only 4% of that penetrates the skin.

Do you even realise how many coats of reapplication you'll have to use in a day to reach the carcinogenic effect of the paraben in your entire life?

The moment of truth :- 

Researchers are still debating on parabens being harmful. The FDA and American Cancer Society find no clear health risks from the tiny levels of parabens in cosmetic products, it’s safe to assume that you’ll be just fine using them.

There is no clear evidence that small amounts of paraben cause any health issues, and your body’s natural estrogen has been found to present a higher health risk. 

That being said, you can always play safe and pick your choice of ingredients for your skin care to provide your skin with the nourishment that it needs!

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published