What is Paraben Free? The Skin Care Products You Need to Avoid

What is Paraben Free? The Skin Care Products You Need to Avoid

Everyday, many of us use multiple skin care products to protect our skin from the sun, promote a smoother, youthful appearance, and clear out dead skin cells that may lead to pimples or dull-looking skin.

But, do you know what you are putting on your body?

You have likely heard of paraben-free, but you may not understand what parabens are or why you should avoid them. This guide will walk you through what paraben-free is and why it matters so much when you are searching for natural skin care products.

What are Parabens?

So, what, exactly, are parabens, and why does going paraben free matter?

According to the FDA, parabens are a family of chemicals often used by cosmetic and food manufacturers as preservatives to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria and mold in their products. Parabens are derived from para-hydroxybenzoic acid, which occurs naturally in plants such as coconuts, blueberries, onions, and carrots. Most parabens are similar to those found in nature but are created in a laboratory.

The most common types of parabens used in cosmetic products include methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, isopropylparaben, and isobutylparaben. Some products may include several different types of parabens.

So how do parabens work? While scientists do not totally understand how parabens prevent the growth of bacteria, they are thought to disrupt the membrane transport processes of some bacteria or by inhibiting the creation of DNA or RNA. Different parabens are more effective against certain types of bacterial and may work in a slightly different manner.

What are the Uses and Benefits of Parabens?

As mentioned above, parabens are often used to prevent the growth of bacteria and mold in cosmetic products, such as lotions, hair care products, makeup, and shaving products. Parabens allow these types of products to last longer while on the shelves of your local pharmacy or in your own medicine cabinet.

Parabens are also often used in the food industry as a preservative in snacks, cereals, dried meats, and other shelf-stable products.

The benefits of parabens include their preservation qualities and the fact that humans process parabens quicky, meaning they do not linger in the body for an extended period of time.

(It is worth noting that the constant exposure to parabens through food and multiple skin care products may mean parabens are constantly reintroduced to the body.)

Are Parabens Harmful?

For many consumers, this is their main concern. There are some obvious benefits to using parabens, but do the benefits out weigh the risks?

The truth is, we do not fully understand whether parabens are safe or dangerous. Scientists are still working to understand the effect parabens may have on the human body.

The American Cancer Society states there is no strong scientific evidence to support the harmful effect of parabens. For example, current research has shown no definite link between antiperspirant use, deodorant use, or shaving underarm hair and an increased breast cancer risk.

However, The American Cancer Society also states,

"Intake of parabens is a possible concern because studies have shown that parabens have a weak estrogen-like properties. Estrogen is a female hormone known to cause breast cells (both normal and cancerous) to grow and divide. And some conditions that increase the body's exposure to estrogen...have been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer."

Several studies have raised questions about the safety of parabens.

A 2004 study in the UK found five different types of parabens in the breast tumors of 19 out of 20 women who were diagnosed with breast cancer. Another study that looked at 40  women over four years found similar results. These studies do not indicate a direct link between parabens and cancer, but the results do raise questions.

Other possible dangers of parabens include allergic reactions in some individuals and the  possibility that certain parabens may react with sunlight to increase damage to the skin.  

Due to the unclear effects of parabens, they were banned in many products in the EU in 2014. In the United States, products containing parabens must be labeled as such, which allows consumers to make their own choices about paraben exposure.

The lack of scientific clarity related to the safety of parabens is leading many consumers to go paraben free.

What Skin Care Products Contain Parabens?

A wide range of skin care products contain parabens. In fact, there is a good chance that multiple products you use every day on your skin and hair contain parabens. The David Suzuki Foundation reports that an estimated 75 to 90 percent of cosmetics, including skin care products, contain some level of parabens.

Facial Moisturizers

Products used to increase moisture in the facial skin are used by people of all ages to reduce flaking and promote a full, youthful appearance. Moisturizers work by attracting moisture and trapping it in the skin. Many of these products use parabens to inhibit the growth of bacteria or mold.

Anti - Aging Creams

Anti-aging creams are often used to minimize the appearance of lines and wrinkles. The FDA classifies these creams as a cosmetic, which means manufacturers are not required to prove the efficacy of their products. These products often contain parabens as a preservative and may be applied two or three times a day by users.


Foundation is a cosmetic product used by many people, including women, actors, and other professionals, to reduce the appearance of blemishes and create the appearance of a smooth, even skin tone. Formulas may come in a liquid or powder form and are often applied at least once a day.  

Fragranced Products

Many skin care products are scented to create a soothing or pleasant experience during application. The main concern with fragranced products is manufacturers may not be required to list the complete list ingredients in their fragrances, they must only include "fragrance." The lack of transparency makes it difficult for consumers to make an educated decision.

Other products in your medicine cabinet that may contain parabens include: eye makeup remover, facial cleansers, sunscreen, and eye creams.  

The Need for Preservation in Skin Care Products

Despite their potential danger, parabens are included in skin care products for a good reason. They help ensure the safety and quality of skin care products that may travel thousands of miles before they end up on the shelf in your bathroom--where they may sit for weeks or months while you use the entire container.

Manufacturers cannot remove parabens and ensure a safe product without replacing those preservatives with some other preservative — otherwise, your skincare products may grow mold or bacteria!

It is clear that skin care products require some level of preservation to ensure safety and quality. Sometimes manufactures remove the parabens, add other synthetics preservatives and then promote their products as paraben free. Which, of course, they are. However, we are just beginning to understand the effects parabens may have on the human body. How many more years could it be before we understand the dangers of other synthetic preservatives?

Luckily, there is an alternative to both parabens and other unstudied synthetic preservatives.

Alternatives to Parabens & Going Paraben Free

Instead of choosing paraben free skin care products that simply replace parabens with other synthetic preservatives, consumers can choose natural products with easy to understand ingredients.

Natural skin care products often include safe preservatives such as citric acid, rosemary extract, and grape seed extract. Those preservatives are found right in nature and do not require a science degree to understand where they come from!

Art Naturals' Paraben-Free Skin Care Products

If you are concerned with the amount of parabens in your skin care products, there are multiple safe, natural alternatives. In fact, all of Art Naturals' products are natural and paraben free!

Here are a few of our most-popular, paraben-free skin care formulas, including our best-selling, highest rated, and employee favorites.

Serum Trio: Includes Hyaluronic Acid, Vitamin C, Retinol Serums

This trio of age-defying skin care serums is the perfect choice for those looking for a youthful appearance. These products target wrinkles, fine lines, dark circles, and damage caused by the sun's UV rays.

For best results, apply Vitamin C Serum after washing your face each morning. Let the serum dry, then apply the Hyaluronic Serum followed by your normal makeup (if applicable). In the evenings after washing your face, apply the Retinol Serum.

Clarifying Face Wash

Our clarifying face wash features a deep-cleansing formula designed to wash away dirt and oil while fighting breakouts, including blackheads and other unsightly blemishes.

Makeup Setting Spray

This spray will keep your makeup looking fresh all day long. Enjoy a shine-free look for up to 16 hours with this natural setting spray designed to prevent makeup from fading, cracking, or settling into fine lines and wrinkles.   

Makeup Primer

The perfect makeup look starts with the right primer. Designed to prepare your skin for a flawless look, this all natural, paraben free makeup primer also moisturizes and shields skin from UV damage.

This lightweight, oil-controlling formula contains aloe, coconut, and safflower.


The impact of parabens on our bodies is not clearly understood. Based on the available evidence, many countries have chosen to ban parabens from cosmetics, including the skin care products we put on our skin multiple times a day.

The United States has not yet banned the inclusion of preservatives such as parabens in cosmetic and skin care items. In addition, many manufacturers simply replace parabens with other questionable synthetic preservatives.

Luckily, there is a better alternative to parabens and synthetic preservatives in your skin care products. Instead, choose natural products with clear, transparent labels and ingredients you can pronounce. Your health and your skin are worth it.

Are you considering going paraben free or looking to add natural alternatives to your paraben free skin care routine?

Check out our full line of Art Naturals skin care products with all natural ingredients.


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