Parabens, what are they?

Have you read the word “Paraben Free” in a product description?

It gives you the feeling that it is something bad for your face, right? It is increasingly common to find this description in skincare products and although it is a fairly good preservative, it has gained a bad reputation, why? It is because it is attributed various accusations such as disrupting the endocrine system or being carcinogenic.

According to the American Contact Dermatitis Society, it was declared “non-allergic ingredient of the year”, so I was very intrigued to know then why they define it as a bad thing.

Let’s see how we can find it on labels:


Although it has many other names, these are the most common used on product labels.


What are the benefits of parabens in products? They are antimicrobial, that is, they prevent the contamination of products by microorganisms such as fungi and bacteria. Using a product that is contaminated can cause skin problems such as dermatitis or other types of infections. Parabens are inexpensive, they do not contain odor or taste, and they do not alter the properties of the products.

So why the bad name?

They earned this fame because it is related to modifying and intoxicating the endocrine system (glands and hormones). Specifically, they are accused of altering the levels of estrogens and androgens (male and female sex hormones), which would also have an effect on fertility.

This has been alarming, since there are many products that are for children that contain this type of parabens, the most indicated as “bad” or “harmful” is PROPYLPARABEN BUTYLPARABEN.

Let’s see some questions that consumers ask more …

Are parabens toxic?

  • According to science, no. Attempts have been made to demonstrate its acute toxicity and it is currently ruled out.

Are parabens applied to the skin absorbed into the bloodstream?

  • Yes, true. Absorption has been shown to depend on the integrity and function of the skin barrier, being minimal in healthy skin.

Are parabens allergenic?

  • Discarded by science. No matter how long they are exposed to the skin, they do not cause an allergic effect.

Do parabens cause endocrine disruption and alter hormones?

  • It is not clear yet. If they have been shown to be weak estrogens or xenoestrogens. However, its actual biological activity is still under study.

Do parabens affect fertility?

  • It is not proven in human studies. At the moment, it is nothing more than a hypothesis without verification.

Are parabens teratogenic?

  • Discarded for the moment. All teratogenicity studies have been negative.

Are parabens carcinogenic?

  • Not according to science. Although it is still under study.

Do parabens bring ecological problems?

  • It is not clear.

Do parabens alter the microbiota?

  • The evidence has shown that it is not.

Do parabens have an anti-aging effect on the skin?

  • The evidence is contradictory, on the one hand a possible anti-aging action has been described, but on the other hand it has also been shown that it can decrease the proliferation of keratinocytes, and the production of collagen and hyaluronic acid.


How difficult it is to draw conclusions, right? There are many doubts and very little clarification. My advice is that you stay away from parabens until there are more in-depth studies and many of the doubts that are had about them, have clear answers and not half.


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