The Problem With Parabens

Parabens are widely used as preservatives in the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries. They are used to prolong the shelf life of cosmetics and as a base for many medications. The most widely used parabens are methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, isobutylparaben, isopropylparaben and benzylparaben. There is also a group of paraben “sodium salts” (Sodium Methylparaben, Sodium Ethylparaben, Sodium Propylparaben, etc.) that are used for the same purpose.

Pick up almost any shampoo, conditioner, deep conditioner, lotion, moisturizer, shaving gel, personal lubricant, spray tanner, toothpaste, hand sanitizer, fabric softeners and even children’s skin products and you’ll find some sort of paraben in it. They’re even used as an additive to some packaged foods. They’re efficacy as preservatives, in combination with their low cost, explains why parabens are so commonplace.


Since most parabens are rubbed onto the skin, all types of skin problems can occur. For years parabens have been known to cause skin irritation, rash, contact dermatitis, eczema, and allergic skin reactions. In laboratory testing parabens have been found to mimic the hormone estrogen. It is a known medical fact that over-production of estrogen stimulates fibroids, uterine cysts, polyps and breast cancer. Parabens bind to the body’s estrogen receptors, encouraging the growth of cancer cells. When you use a product such as shampoo or lotion, about 3/5 of that product could end up in your body. Anything that enters the body through the skin may be as high as 10 times the concentration of an oral dose.  Scientists in the UK analyzed 20 breast tumors and found high concentrations of parabens in 18 samples!

Some people believe that parabens contained in shampoos and cosmetics have the potential to actually make its users gain weight. Well, your endocrine system (i.e., hypothalamus, ovaries and thyroid), regulates your insulin production, which balances your glucose “sugar” levels and balances your weight. Parabens seem to disrupt the endocrine system and have the ability to actually lead to weight gain. easily absorbed through both the skin as well as through the gastrointestinal tract.

Some parabens are found naturally in plant sources. For example, methylparaben is found in blueberries, where it acts as an antimicrobial agent. However, when parabens are eaten, they are metabolized and lose the ester group, making them less strongly estrogen-mimicking. All commercially used parabens are synthetically produced however, although some are identical to those found in nature.

  • Read the labels of products before you buy them, and if they have parabens in them, don’t buy them.


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15 thoughts on “The Problem With Parabens

  1. SunCearRaye

    `Interesting article. I have a thyroid issue and I just started using chemical free shampoos and conditioners.

    BTW, love your site. It’s going into my BRoll!

  2. JenellyBean

    Oh Wow!
    They can cause cancer??

    I just started hearing about parabens when I started growing my hair natural.

    I will definitely look out for this!

    Do u know of some popular products with Parabens in them?

  3. Savvy

    Off the top of my head Miss Jessies Buttercremem and Mis Jessie’s Baby Buttercreme, just about anything made by Pantene, Jergen’s lotion, mostly all of Gillette’s shave gels, Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion, Bath & Body Works Sweet Pea Body Butter, L’Oreal True Match Liquid Makeup, Bliss Fabulous Foaming Face Wash, Bliss Body Butter, fresh body lotions and scrubs. This by no means is an exhaustive list, but you can see, it goes across all cosmetics, brands and price points. the best thing to do is READ labels!

  4. Dianna

    Hello Savvy! I just love your site and style of writing. I’m going to pass your link on to my network of friends. Keep up the good work and I plan to check back often.

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  6. Kichael Miller

    Thanks for this great article on parabens! I am trying to take the time and sit down with at least one of your wonderfully informative articles each day. I started my safer more natural lifestyle about 5 years ago when I was introduced to Melaleuca and organic food! I haven’t taken much time to learn a lot of the details on exact label ingredients but I know most of what to avoid and have a general idea of why. I believe their products are all paraben free but now I’ll have to check the labels to make sure. At this point however I love their products and I know it’s better then the alternative which would be using nothing or regular products I know are laden with carcinogens until I find something. Have you done a product review on any of their products yet?

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  11. Jackie

    I have just purchased “No7 Protect & Perfect Skincare System” 14 days ago. I have yet to use it because of all the parabens I read in the ingredients. I have contacted the comapany 3 times in the past 14 days with no response. After researching on my own I am returning their product for a full refund.Becuase I am a breast cancer survivor and on medication to STOP estrogen production… I cannot have anything that could possibly be estrogen producing.

  12. Savvy

    @Jackie First of all congratulations on being a survivor! You’re an inspiration to many including myself! I have a few friends who are survivors and they definitely stay away from products with parabens, soy, even aluminum… I think it’s excellent that you returned that product. I know Korres makes skincare cleansing systems as well as makeup that are paraben-free. but I also heard through the grapevine that Bare Esscentuals is about to unveil a whole paraben, silicone and pthalate-free skincare line as well. so sit tight, when I hear about it I’ll blog about it ok? Thanks so much for your coment!

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