What’S All The Fuss About Parabens?

Loading products with parabens-a common kind of chemical preservative found in beauty and personal-care items-allows them to have an extended shelf life and be nearly resistant to extreme heat and cold. But just because your products can last longer doesn't mean they're better for your health.

Some studies have shown that parabens may have a link to breast cancer, as they disrupt the body's endocrine system by mimicking the hormone estrogen. Studies have also found that estrogen-like behavior is only present when parabens are applied topically, like with a skincare product, as opposed to being ingested.

In 1984, the safety of the three most widely-used parabens-methylparaben, propylparaben and butylparaben-was evaluated by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review and deemed safe as long as the amount of the preservative used didn't constitute more than 25% of the product's content (most skincare products have a level under 1%). Twice since then, the CIR has reopened their investigation in response to findings that potentially link parabens to breast cancer. However, the 2005 CIR findings determined parabens are safe.