What Are Paraben-Free Cosmetics?

Jessica Ellis

Paraben-free cosmetics are makeup and beauty products that do not contain ingredients from the paraben family of additives. These chemicals, which are used in cosmetic and food products as anti-fungal and anti-bacterial agents, have been linked to estrogen abnormalities in some scientific studies. Additionally, some people have an allergy to parabens, and thus need to seek out paraben-free cosmetics in order to avoid triggering a reaction.

Parabens can be found in most shaving creams, but many companies are now offering paraben-free options. .
Parabens can be found in most shaving creams, but many companies are now offering paraben-free options. .

There are many different types of parabens that can show up in cosmetic products. Some of the most common ingredients that indicate that a product is not paraben-free are methylparaben, propylparaben, and parahydroxybenzoic acid. Any ingredient that includes the prefix “para” is likely to be a paraben chemical. Since knowledge of the potential harmfulness of parabens is neither widespread nor fully accepted, companies do not generally list parabens as an ingredient that may cause allergies, as they often do with nut, wheat, or soy ingredients.

Some paraben-free body washes are available.
Some paraben-free body washes are available.

Cosmetic companies that are against the use of parabens will often list that they are free of parabens on the box or bottle. Consumers must be wary, however, of any cosmetic product that simply lists itself as natural, organic, or herbal. Unless an ingredient list turns up no sign of parabens, or the packaging explicitly states that the product is free of parabens, they are likely to exist in the product.

Some cosmetics companies formulate their products using paraben free and organic ingredients.
Some cosmetics companies formulate their products using paraben free and organic ingredients.

It may help to know which kind of products are likely to have paraben-based ingredients, so paraben-free cosmetics can be sought as an alternative. Shampoo, conditioner, hair dye, self-tanning lotion, sunscreen, and most makeup products often contain parabens. Choosing body washes, shaving cream, skin lotion, and even soap can all mean problematic shopping decisions for anyone with paraben allergies. Luckily, many companies now offer paraben-free cosmetics in these categories, to ensure that those who cannot tolerate the chemicals have a viable product option.

Paraben-free cosmetics can be purchased through beauty stores, online merchants, or even in some health-oriented stores. Large health-food stores often have cosmetic sections that specialize in organic, natural products, including paraben-free lines. When purchasing products online, be sure to read ingredient lists carefully to weed out any paraben-containing products before ordering. If a company has recently changed its formula or announced a new product, it may be a good idea to re-check the ingredients to ensure that no parabens have been added. While it may take some effort to find paraben-free cosmetics, the search can be worth it for anyone with an allergy or estrogen concerns.

Many types of cosmetics contain parabens.
Many types of cosmetics contain parabens.

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Discussion Comments


Thank you so much for this article! I have a newborn baby, 14 days old. I put some of her baby lotion on my hands before I used it on her and my skin turned rashy and started stinging. I washed it off and set the lotion aside to be thrown away.

I found another bottle of lotion and put some on and it did the same thing, so I compared their common ingredients (mineral oil, water, glycerin, and parabens) to the ingredients in the lotion I normally use and found that parabens were in the ones that broke me out and not the other. So, I looked it up to find some answers and here they are! I'm so, so glad I used that crap on myself before I put it on my child! Thank you for the info!


I will try use Paraben free products that are absorb by the skin, like lotions, shampoo, mattifier foundations, liquid liner, deodorant, concealer or products I might ingest unknowingly like lipstick, and maybe still use products with parabens that are just going to sit on-top of skin and unlikely to be absorbed like eye-shadows, pencil liner or facepowder.

I think it's not just parabens chemicals, but we should also look at the other ingredients as well, like the alternative the companies use besides parabens.

We must keep in mind, anything good used in excess is still going to turn out bad.


Great article. More and more women should be made aware of the dangers that parabens and other toxin are doing to their skin and general health. I've written quite a lot on this because I feel very strongly about this and I've published quite a few articles about the dangers of makeup products that contain toxins and other dangerous chemicals. Once again, thanks.

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