Eco Insights: Toxic Beauty Series Part 2 – Parabens

2 Mins Read

In the first part of our series, we covered sulfates. If only that were the only ingredient to worry about. There are so many more to come, this will be our longest blog post series yet! Today we tackle parabens, also omnipresent in the drugstore/pharmacy aisles.

What Is It?

Parabens is a group of chemical compounds derived from Benzoic Acid. It does not come from natural sources and is made synthetically in laboratories.

Why Is It Used?

Parabens is basically a preservative. Its usage enables manufacturers to prolong product shelf life by preventing bacteria and fungus growth. This is especially the case in water-based products. Parabens is very inexpensive to produce, making it appealing to many brands (cheaper ingredient cost = higher profit margin!).

What Is It Used In?

Parabens is used in many liquid cosmetic and personal care formulations. It is found in shampoos, conditioners, hair styling products, moisturizers, face washes, body washes, liquid soaps, cleansing gels, shaving gels, topical over-the-counter medical creams, toothpaste and much more. It can also be used as a food additive.

What to Look Out For On An Ingredient Label

Parabens is usually listed on ingredient labels under one of these four names: propylparaben, methyl paraben, butylparaben and ethylparaben.These are the four most common forms of parabens and a significant majority of cosmetics and personal care products contain one or more of these substances.

Why Is It Bad For You?

Parabens is extremely easily absorbed through the skin. Many studies have shown that most people have traces of parabens in their urine. Parabens usage has become increasingly controversial because of its strong links to breast cancer. Researchers have found parabens in women’s breast tumors. Parabens can mimic estrogen in our bodies by binding to our cell’s estrogen receptors. Parabens has also been linked to lower testosterone secretion and poor reproductive health in male mammals.

While we don’t have the all the conclusive facts yet about the exact effects of these links, we do know that parabens is a hormone disruptor; it artificially manipulates our internal hormonal balance and can cause serious reproductive health issues. This is especially true for little ones and babies.

Conclusion: Stay Away From Parabens! And Keep Your Kids Away From It Too!

Make sure to check the rest of our Toxic Beauty Series.


  • Sonalie Figueiras

    2021 Women of Power, 2019 GEN T Honoree, V Label Global Hero, 2 x TEDx Speaker: Serial social entrepreneur & trends forecaster Sonalie Figueiras is a sustainability expert, food futurist and eco-powerhouse who has been inspiring global audiences for over a decade with practical steps on how to fight climate change. Known as the Green Queen of Asia, she is the founder and Editor in Chief of the award-winning Green Queen - the region’s first impact media platform that educates millions of readers on the connection between health, sustainability and the environment and showcases future solutions. She is also the co-founder and CEO of organic sourcing platform Ekowarehouse and climate tech SaaS Source Green, which helps consumer brands quit plastic packaging thanks to proprietary plastic reduction software. In addition, Sonalie is a global keynote speaker and an advisor to multiple mission-driven startups and NGOs, and a venture partner to several VC funds.

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