Are Parabens in Skin Care Products Harmful to Your Health?

Parabens are preservatives used in skin care products designed to defend against microorganisms to keep a product safe and ensure a long, stable shelf life. The most common parabens used in skin care are butylparaben, propylparaben and methylparaben. While they have been used for many decades, the past seven years has brought a lot of controversy about their safety in regards to your health.

A study back in 2004 claimed that parabens may mimic estrogen and lead to breast cancer. As someone who has developed their own line of skin care products based on nine skin types (choose your skin type) and studies skin care ingredients very closely, you can imagine what a big stir this caused. I remember about six months after I got word of this study, I was at a skin care trade show and one vendor booth really stood out because it was packed with a ton people all around it – more so than any other exhibitor booth. I walked over to see what was going on and this guy, who started a paraben-free skin care line, was talking to everyone over a microphone about how parabens were cancer-causing and they should toss out their products immediately. Everyone was really scared, and he certainly sounded very convincing. (Note: Since my line is only sold directly to the consumers through my website and two skin care spas in Dallas, I was an attendee, not an exhibitor.)..

At the time, I too was alarmed as many of my products contained parabens. But could this really be a new finding about a link to breast cancer? This has been a hot topic among skin care professionals, cosmetic chemists and health researchers. I have followed all of this closely for years listening to everyone’s opinions and research.

The original study now holds no valid argument about parabens causing cancer. The FDA, the National Cancer Institute and the American Cancer Society have all come forward, publicly stating there is no proof of a linkage between parabens in skin care products and cancer. Why? The scientific reason is that parabens do not act as estrogen disrupters. Once they are applied to the skin, they become a metabolite, which is non-estrogenic.

Last year, I called up that skin care company that I had seen years back at that trade show (I didn’t reveal who I was) and asked them if parabens were harmful to your health to hear what they would now say, considering the new research. Their answer was simply “more research needs to be done.” I was happy with that honest answer since they were essentially saying there was no proof of its link to cancer.

It is my belief that any skin care company that continues to spread this misinformation, despite all of the recent conclusions resulting from further research, is using fear tactics to persuade the consumer to purchase their product. I hear it all the time and this is completely wrong and dishonest. I too believe more research needs to be done (and it is), but to market products based on inconclusive data is just not right.

Read: Five Skin Care Ingredient Myths You Need to Know

As for the Renée Rouleau line of products, I do have many, many products in my line that are now paraben-free. The word is out that they are bad and many consumers just don’t take the time to do the research so more and more companies are headed in this direction, including mine. However, I was purposefully a little late on the bandwagon to discontinue using parabens in my products because the new alternatives were just not tried and true. I’ve personally seen several products from other lines that had launched paraben-free products early on, in which the new preservative system didn’t work effectively in fighting bacteria and caused the products to grow mold. The skin care world is a actually a small community and word gets around fast when someone’s products go wrong. I certainly would never disclose the names of those companies, but that’s the risk you take when you’re an early adopter to certain new ingredients. It can happen, I understand. I personally wanted to wait until the chemists worked out the kinks before I would start with an alternative preservative – which I now have.

Read: How Do Renée Rouleau Products Compare to Other Skin Care Lines?

Read: How Can I Lessen the Amount of Chemicals I Use On My Sensitive Skin?

While it is important to stay educated and informed about skin care ingredients, it will also be challenging to really sort it all out. One company will tell you one thing, and another company will tell you the complete opposite. So when choosing skin care products, you need to not only find a company whose products give you results, but essentially one that you trust and believe in. And I hope you find that with me and my company, Renée Rouleau Skin Care.

Read: Renée’s Six Step Plan for Evaluating Your Skin Care Products

Read: What I Know For Sure About Skin

Read: Renée Rouleau Offers Spa Services for Domestic Violence Victims

Which products are right for your skin? See our nine skin types and get products recommended.

Need expert advice from a licensed esthetician? Schedule My Skin Prescription to get personalized advice in person, over the phone or via Skype or Facetime.

For more expert skin advice, check out Skin Source–the A-Z guide on all things skin. Also sign up for our skin tip e-newsletter, follow Renée Rouleau on Twitter and join the discussion on our Facebook page. You’ll be your own skin care expert in no time.

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Content found on, including: text, images, audio, or other formats were created for informational purposes only. The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this blog.