Live Green and Earn Points


Because You Asked

What Are Parabens and Why Should I Avoid Them?

By Recyclebank |

It wouldn’t be unwise to avoid this group of synthetic preservatives.

Dear Recyclebank,

I’ve heard that I should choose paraben-free products. What are parabens, and why should I avoid them?

-Hannah K., Tallahassee, FL


Dear Hannah,

Parabens are a group of chemicals commonly used as preservatives in beauty products such as makeup, lotion, and shampoo. Common parabens include methylparaben, propylparaben, and butylparaben, and a combination of parabens may be used with each other and/or with other preservatives. Preservatives, including parabens, do exactly what their name says: they preserve. They keep beauty products from going bad or growing bacteria as quickly. But the practical benefits come with possible health trade-offs.

Paraben exposure has been linked to breast cancer and endocrine disruption (the endocrine system produces hormones), likely because parabens can behave similar to estrogen. The link is not definitive, and, until determined otherwise, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration believes parabens are safe at low levels. However, the FDA’s position is based on the existing body of research, which is conflicting and insufficient. There simply isn’t enough research or definitive research to declare parabens safe for our bodies and the environment. That’s worrisome in itself, since parabens are synthetic and are so closely and frequently applied to our bodies via the many beauty products that contain them. Why take the risk when paraben-free alternatives exist?

U.S. Food and Drug Administration
Environmental Working Group

What are some ingredients you try to avoid when you buy products? Tell us in the comments below.

Share with Your Friends & Family
  • Rene L. 4 years ago
    i avoid parabens
  • Justine M. 6 years ago
    This still doesn't explain exactly what parabens are.

    Studies of methylparabens indicate that methylparaben applied on the skin may react with UVB, leading to increased skin aging and DNA damage. The opposite effect that most makeup users are searching for!
  • Henry T. 6 years ago
    To Renee A: You are right Air Pollution is effecting us all greatly . But if some preservatives are causing cancer & other diseases we all have to listen to what we could do to help. Prevent someone else's suffering when & where we can. Listening, understanding other's problems & seeing if we can help in even some small way is a great human gift. You've started by understanding pollutions' damage. This type of forum is helping us realize others.
  • Kaitlin S. 6 years ago
  • Nicole H. 6 years ago
    No one cares as long as they get their money. so....bpa....parabens....our water supply.... what is safe anymore??? Might as well be amish. They gotta be doing something right. Cannot trust basically every product. We have families why is it exceptable to let it be and live knowing we are being poisoned daily and continue to turn away and act like it doesn't matter??? In the UK kraft mac and cheese is banned, bc of the yellow food dye. Why has our government not done the same? Because we don't do anything about it. Glass brita pitchers are only sold in the UK, BUT NOT HERE
  • View More