Parabens – What they are, and why some people choose to avoid them.

Skin is one of the largest organs in our body and acts as the front line of defense from external factors such as pollution, chemicals, germs and other everyday toxins. However it is also a very porous and absorbent surface that is susceptible to sun damage, aging, dehydration and, of course, break outs.

Parabens are a type of chemical used as a preservative in most cosmetics, skin care and hair products including moisturisers, shampoo and toothpaste. Parabens are for the most part deemed as practically non-toxic, however for anyone with sensitive skin or allergies they can cause skin irritations, dermatitis, rosacea and break outs. This is the problem I have with parabens, a small amount is generally fine but if the chemical builds up on my skin or I use multiple products containing parabens, a mild red rash will appear on my face starting around my eyes and/or my face will break out in pimples.

Parabens have also been linked to breast cancer; they are found to mimic estrogen, which is known to play a role in the development of hormone-receptor-positive breast cancers. At this stage the link is very tenuous and there is no solid scientific evidence that parabens can increase the risk of developing breast cancer, there is a similar link with BPA, the chemical compound used in plastic water bottles. I personally pay more attention to these kind of links after my Mum was diagnosed with breast cancer last year (thankfully she is totally cancer-free now.)


I buy paraben free when I can, simply because I never know how my skin is going to react. More and more companies are removing parabens from their products. A lot of major cosmetics companies still use them and I have to say sometimes the awesomeness of a product outweighs my need for it to be paraben free.

If you are concerned about parabens the best thing to do is to read the label and avoid any of the following:

  • Methylparaben
  • Proplyparaben
  • Isobutylparaben
  • Butylparaben
  • Benzylparaben
  • Ethylparaben

Each one ends with ‘paraben’, which makes it easy to pick out on the ingredient list.

Ere Perez and Inika are my go-to paraben free brands, they both have a commitment to developing natural products that are free of chemicals, synthetic substances and parabens. Check out Sara-May’s review of theEre Perez Olive Oil Lipstick and my review of the Ere Perez Natural Almond Oil Mascara.

Do parabens or other chemicals in makeup concern you? Do you have any skin allergies that dictate your makeup purchases?