Parabens are preservatives.
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, parabens are among the most commonly used preservatives in the cosmetic industry. The most common parabens used are methylparaben, propylparaben and butylparaben.
Parabens are low-cost, petroleum-based ingredients used for their anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. They are deemed safe at low concentrations and are found in everything from facial moisturizers to shampoos, makeup and even some processed food products.
However, parabens are somewhat controversial. They have been found intact inside breast cancer tumor cells. Also, due to their structure, they somewhat mimic estrogen once inside the body – obviously a cause for alarm as some tumors have been shown to be estrogen-receptive, meaning the hormone aids in tumor growth.
That’s not to say parabens directly cause cancer or that using products with parabens will increase your risk of getting cancer – the data isn’t conclusive. But consider this – while parabens have been declared safe by the FDA in small concentrations, exposure to multiple products containing these ingredients has not been studied.
That being said, the European Union has banned or restricted some parabens such as methylparaben. Just something to consider…we’re looking at you FDA.