The Health Controversies of Parabens

Mark G. Kirchhof, MD, PhD; Gillian C. de Gannes, MD, MSc, FRCPC


Skin Therapy Letter. 2013;18(2) 

In This Article

Consumer Products and Parabens

Parabens have been used in food, cosmetic and pharmaceutical products since the 1930s. Their use in cosmetic consumer products is more prevalent than their utility elsewhere. Products found to contain parabens include hand soap, body lotion, shampoo, conditioner, face lotion, facial cleansers, foundation, lipstick, mascara, hair spray/mousse/gel, toothpaste and sunscreen.[1,3,4] One study identified parabens in 44% of cosmetics tested.[3] In personal care products tested in the US, concentrations of methylparaben up to 1.0% were found, with lipsticks containing the highest concentration ranging from 0.15% to 1.0%.[1] The other parabens are used at concentrations lower than methylparaben in personal care products. Methylparaben and propylparaben are the most commonly used parabens in pharmaceutical products at concentrations of up to 20%;[1] both of these preservatives are also used in food products such as jams, jellies, fillings and toppings at concentrations of up to 0.1%.[1,5]