Are Parabens Really That Bad For You?

Writer: Farah Karim

Do you ever put any thought on what goes into your beauty products? More often than not, ingredients list are always filled with names of compounds that don’t necessarily make any sense, so it’s easy for us to overlook what we’re feeding our skin.

Over the past few years, parabens have become a huge buzzword in the beauty industry. But does anyone know the reason why?

Source: Viktor Forgacs/unsplash

What are parabens?

Parabens are chemicals that act as preservative, mainly found in deodorants, lotions, lipsticks, shampoos and scrubs. They’re used to make the product have a longer shelf life and prevent bacteria or mould from growing within them.

Common parabens include methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben and butylparaben. Some can also be listed as Alkyl parahydroxy benzoates.

Why are they bad?

Studies have shown that some parabens can mimic the activity of estrogen in the body. It’s known that estrogenic activity is associated with certain forms of breast cancer, where parabens have been found in breast tumours. However, there aren’t any direct connection between parabens and cancer. It just shows that parabens are able to penetrate the skin and remain in it.

What’s more, they aren’t just bad for us, but also for the environment. A recent scientific study published in the journal of Environment Science & Technology reported that parabens have been found for the first time in the bodies of marine mammals, including polar bears, sea otters and dolphins. They believe that the detected parabens came from the products that we use and are washed into the sewage system before being released into the environment.

What now?

So what other alternatives are there? Well, it’s quite impossible to throw out all the products you have now without costing a bomb to replace. But what you can do is make a slow transition towards paraben-free products. Not only are they good for your skin, but as you’ll see in the list below, it’s also good for the environment as they are ethically produced.

Good Virtues Co.

Source: Good Virtues Co.

Marketed as a brand that contains organic habbatus sauda (or, more commonly known as black seed oil), Good Virtues Co. is a brand that prides itself for containing no parabens and synthetic colourants. The more good you do to your body, the more joy, confidence and beauty will show.

Naturals by Watsons

Source: Watsons

Naturals by Watons is a range of products that are free from parabens, silicons, colourants and other harmful chemicals. Focusing on the beauty of nature and natural essentials from mother nature, the origins of the Naturals line come from ingredients like Quinoa and Aloe Vera.

L’Oreal Paris Botanicals

Source: L’Oreal Paris

Similar to Naturals by Watsons, the release of L’Oreal Paris focuses on creating beauty products that are inspired by nature. By using raw materials of the highest quality while eliminating chemicals such as parabens and silicone, they’re encouraging not only other brands to follow in their footsteps but to convert consumers to be eco-conscious.


Source: swiish

Free of parabens, dyes and fragances, DermaVeen is probably a brand you wouldn’t have thought of. Not only is it free of any harmful chemicals, their products are also suitable for those with sensitive skin.

The Body Shop

Source: Westfield Australia

Never afraid to stand out from the crowd, the Body Shop isn’t just a brand that doesn’t use harmful chemicals, they’re also an advocate for ethically-sourced ingredients. On top of being the first global cosmetics company to start a campaign against animal testing, they also recently started a campaign against modern slavery.