What Does Paraben-Free Mean?

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While looking for new beauty products in physical and online stores, you have probably come across several products that specifically claim to be “paraben-free.”

Asian woman choosing between two shampoo in a grocery store

But do you know what parabens are? And what does paraben-free mean? 

If you’re unsure what these are, don’t worry; we are here to break it down for you.  

Keep reading to learn more about parabens and find out why you should opt for paraben-free beauty products from now on.

Without further ado, let’s start!

What Are Parabens?

Parabens are a group of synthetic chemicals mainly used as preservatives in health and beauty products. 

They come from para-hydroxybenzoic acid (PHBA), which naturally occurs in plants like carrots, onions, blueberries, and coconuts. However, most parabens used in commercial products are formulated in a laboratory. 

The most common paraben types used in cosmetic products are:

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

The primary purpose of parabens is to increase any product’s shelf life and to prevent the growth of harmful fungi, mold, and bacteria. 

Without preservatives, your makeup and skincare products will degrade faster.

Parabens are the reason you can use your favorite beauty products for months to a year without needing to replace them. 

However, are they safe to use? 

Are Parabens Safe?

Without parabens, skincare products are more likely to form harmful substances that can cause skin irritation and infection. 

However, these ingredients could be actually doing more harm than good. 

In fact, there’s still an ongoing discussion regarding the potential dangers and side effects of parabens on the skin, which divides the scientific community. 

Today, the beauty industry is taking the initiative by making paraben-free products accessible in the market. 

While some companies still allow parabens in their products, others strictly discarded parabens from their ingredients list and jumped in the paraben-free movement. 

different kinds of products laid in a table that might contain paraben

To help you out, here’s a list of products to watch out for that potentially contain parabens on their ingredient list:

  • Shampoos
  • Conditioners
  • Deodorants
  • Eye, face, hand, body creams
  • Eyeshadows
  • Mascaras
  • Eyeliners
  • Foundations
  • Lip balms
  • Lip gloss
  • Lipsticks
  • Moisturizers
  • Facial cleansers
  • Facial scrubs
  • Facial toners
  • Sunscreens
  • Lotions
  • Nail polish
  • Perfumes
  • Shampoos
  • Shower gels
  • Shaving creams
  • Toothpaste
  • Diet pills

Why Should You Avoid Parabens in Skin Care?

While parabens play a vital role in the longevity of products, there’s been an increasing fear ever since scientific studies found out that these preservatives are potential endocrine disruptors.

This happens when parabens mimic the behavior of estrogen in the body.

As a result, it affects our body’s reproductive, endocrine, and nervous systems, leading to different health problems:

  • Possibility of thyroid dysfunction 
  • Fertility issues
  • High blood sugar
  • Poor immunity
  • Breast growth in males
  • Early puberty
  • Neurological and developmental disorders
  • Onset of acne in adulthood
  • Allergic reactions
  • Risk of obesity
  • Risk of cancers
  • Risk of tumors

Some of the typical initial skin reactions to parabens include:

  • Allergies
  • Flaking of the skin
  • Hives
  • Irritation
  • Itchy skin
  • Painful skin
  • Redness on the skin
a woman feeling itchy due to using products with paraben

However, it’s important to note that the debates about these studies are still ongoing.

Moreover, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate the use of parabens in cosmetics, stating that there’s a lack of scientific evidence to prove that parabens are indeed a significant health risk as of now.

Correlation does not imply causation, as they say.

For example, a study in 2004 detected a high concentration of parabens in breast tumors, but their presence are not proven to be the cause of the tumor itself. 

Another study in 2011 found parabens across the human breast of a patient, but their specific locations did not correlate with the location of the tumor.

It was because of these studies that some began to speculate that parabens could be contributing to cancer. 

However, there isn’t enough evidence yet to conclude that parabens caused an increased cancer risk, which is why parabens are not completely banned yet.

Still, it is important to note that the EU has banned five types of parabens in all personal care products in 2014, and the same paraben types are also banned in Southeast Asian countries.

What Is Paraben-Free?

If you don’t want to put yourself at risk considering the potential adverse effects of parabens, it’s best to start looking for paraben-free products. 

So what does no parabens mean?

It’s exactly that. Paraben-free means that these harmful preservatives are not included in the ingredients and formulation of a product. 

However, keep in mind that since paraben-free products have a more natural formula, they have a shorter life span compared to products with paraben. 

Nevertheless, choosing paraben-free products is better since you won’t be exposed to the potential risks you might experience with paraben. 

Thanks to the paraben-free movement, beauty and skincare brands guarantee that consumers are safe from potentially harmful chemicals. 

You can tell that a product is paraben-free if you see claims on its packaging like “no parabens,” “paraben-free,” “0% parabens,” or “free from parabens.”

If unsure, refer to the product’s ingredients list on the back. If parabens are not listed, it is more likely free of parabens and safe to use!

7 Reasons to Switch to Paraben-Free Products

Now that you know the definition of paraben-free products, listed below are some of the best reasons to consider investing and switching to paraben-free products:

Healthier Option

It’s important to keep your skin healthy. Remember that the healthier your skin, the healthier your body is and vice versa.

As mentioned earlier, studies show that using products with parabens is associated with cancer risks. Hence, switching to paraben-free products is a no-brainer. 

Also, most preservatives only do more harm than good. Paraben is no exception!

Since the skin is the largest organ of the body, your body naturally self-cleanses and removes toxins through this organ. 

Once applied to your skin, parabens accumulate in your skin tissues and can cause irreversible damage. 

If you want healthier skin, it’s important to only feed it with natural and harmless products like paraben-free ones. 

Prevent Allergies

One of the issues associated with paraben products is allergies. Paraben sensitivity symptoms include excessive itching, raised bumps, and red, blotchy skin patches. 

Fortunately, opting for safer and paraben-free products can help save you from these allergic reactions. 

Achieve Younger Skin

a young woman with healthy skin and shiny black hair is smiling at the camera

When looking for anti-aging creams that claim to make your skin look younger, check the ingredients and make sure that the list does not contain methylparaben. 

Methylparaben is a misleading ingredient that reduces collagen. Take note that collagen help eases joint pains and makes the skin younger-looking. 

So choose anti-aging creams wisely and look for paraben-free ones if you don’t want to reduce the natural collagen in your body.


Did you know that you contribute to pollution as you rinse off your beauty products? 

When you rinse off your products, their residue will be carried by the water and will eventually flow into a larger body of water. As a result, it may affect the marine animals that inhabit these bodies of water. 

The toxicity of parabens in bodies of water has been studied by chemists and environmental scientists, and these studies show that parabens can kill coral. 

Fortunately, you can do something by opting for paraben-free products to save yourself and your environment!

The Butterfly Effect of Paraben-Free Products

When looking for a product to purchase, you should make checking the product’s ingredients list a habit. Though this takes time, it will benefit you in the long run. 

Habitually checking ingredients list makes you more aware of which products contain preservatives and chemicals and which ingredients to avoid

Don’t worry because the medical and beauty industries are currently manufacturing paraben-free products you can choose from that are organic, natural, and chemical-free. 

If you make reading ingredients a habit, this can improve your health and looks and even be life-changing!

Promote Sustainable Products

Since the paraben-free movement is becoming a worldwide practice, choosing paraben-free products means promoting sustainable products that won’t harm your health and the environment.

If you stop supporting brands or products that contain harmful chemicals, you can influence brands and corporations to stop using adversely risky ingredients and encourage them to start manufacturing sustainable products instead. 

Peace of Mind

If you use no-paraben products, you won’t be worried about the potentially harmful effects that parabens might have. 

As a result, you’ll enjoy peace of mind knowing that your body won’t be prone to harmful chemicals that can deteriorate your health. 

Where to Get Paraben-Free Products

After learning about parabens, are you looking for brands and companies that offer paraben-free products?

If that’s the case, we’ve got you covered!

Here’s a list of beauty brands that manufacture safe, paraben-free products in the market:


The following skincare brands have committed to producing paraben-free formulas for all of their products:

  • Naturopathica
  • Burt’s Bees

Aside from them, some companies also offer many paraben-free products in their skincare lines, like Aveeno and Cetaphil


The following makeup brands have committed to producing paraben-free formulas for all of their products:

  • Afterglow Cosmetics
  • Mineralogie
  • Real Purity

Most of the products from bareMinerals are paraben-free, but some of their formulations still contain paraben. 

Although products from Clinique are not always paraben-free, they recently updated their cosmetic formula to paraben-free ones. 

a woman with hair wrapped in a white towel is smiling widely at the camera with her healthy looking skin


When it comes to skincare, it’s important to be mindful of the products you use and introduce to your skin. 

Now that you already know the potential drawbacks of using products with parabens, now is the time to switch to paraben-free products and enjoy the perks of using eco-friendly products. 

If you want to avoid parabens, always make reading the label a habit; your skin will thank you for it!

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  • Stephanie Martin

    Stephanie Martin blends her beauty industry background with expertise in communications to lead in the fashion and beauty world. As a fashion and beauty editor, she is known for engaging and informative articles. Her lifelong passion for fashion, makeup, and hair shines through her work, earning her widespread respect among readers and clients. Stephanie's style, a mix of classic and contemporary, makes her a dynamic and influential figure in the industry, inspiring others with her knowledgeable and approachable insights.

One Comment

  1. SHerry Deana says:

    Wow thank you so much for this info its a great help for skin concious ones. Thumbs up!

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