What Are Parabens & Are They Safe?



Parabens are artificial, hormone-disrupting chemicals that are used in products to prevent the growth of bacteria and lengthen their shelf life. The most common parabens are methylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, and ethylparaben. 




What Products Have Parabens In Them?

Parabens can be found in:

  • Cosmetics, such as foundations, concealers, facial washes, soaps, and mascaras

  • Body care products such as shampoo and conditioner

  • Baked goods

  • Beverages 

  • Syrups, jams, and preserves

  • Packaging for products

  • Some drugs 

Are Parabens Safe?

Although there are hundreds of studies showing parabens may be toxic, they have been deemed safe for use by the FDA based on the current research available [1]. Single or multiple parabens can be added to food and/or food packaging to increase shelf life and prevent spoilage. Parabens in cosmetics are not as closely regulated by the FDA. 

Health Impacts of Parabens

Paraben exposure in pregnant women has been linked to abnormal weight development in their children [3]. Obesity and weight-related health issues of children to mothers who have been exposed to parabens have been reported. 

Parabens may cause abnormal thyroid hormone levels and disrupt regular thyroid functioning [4]. Abnormal hormone levels caused by exposure to parabens such as methylparaben have been linked to infertility, reproductive organ dysfunction, and an increase in the risk of cancer [5]. For these reasons, Million Marker lists parabens as chemicals to avoid.

Recommended Alternatives to Parabens

Avoid products that contain parabens. Instead use natural products containing grapefruit seed extract, natural oils, and herbs. 

How to Avoid Parabens

You can reduce your exposure to parabens by:

  • Buying USDA certified organic products that are paraben-free.

  • Looking for products that are labeled paraben-free.

  • Choosing products that do not require water so as to avoid the need for chemical antimicrobial preservatives.

  • Eating more fresh food that doesn’t require preservatives.

  • Using products that contain natural alternatives such as oils.

You can find our recommended personal care products on our Approved Products list!

Purchase our test kit and learn about your exposure to parabens, as well as other harmful chemical exposures.


[1] https://www.fda.gov/cosmetics/cosmetic-ingredients/parabens-cosmetics
[2] https://www.cdc.gov/biomonitoring/Parabens_FactSheet.html
[3] https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/02/200212111438.htm
[4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6470297/
[5] https://www.ewg.org/what-are-parabens