Parabens

Black and white chemical structure for methyl paraben
Structure of methyl paraben
CAS Number: various

Parabens are widely used as preservatives in personal care products, such as cosmetics, lotions, shampoos, and conditioners.  Parabens are also used as preservatives in some over-the-counter and prescription medications.

Fact Sheet

Parabens are found in

  • Cosmetics and personal care products, including some:
    • Make-up, such as mascara, eye shadow, lipstick, and foundation.
    • Facial cleansers and scrubs.
    • Moisturizers, lotions, and sunscreens.
    • Shampoos, conditioners, and shaving creams.
  • Baby products, such as some lotions, baby wipes, and diaper rash ointments.
  • Some over-the-counter and prescription medications.
  • Some household products, such as some stain removers and pet shampoos.

Possible health concerns of parabens

Scientists are still studying how parabens might affect people’s health.  There is concern that some parabens:

  • May interfere with the body’s natural hormones.
  • May decrease fertility.

Possible ways to reduce exposure to parabens

  • Consider choosing cosmetics, personal care products, and baby products that use natural preservatives, such as vitamin C (might have words like “ascorbate” or “ascorbic” on the label).
  • Try natural oils for skin and hair, such as coconut oil, olive oil, and sunflower seed oil.
  • For infants, consider using plain washcloths instead of baby wipes, and wash their skin with ordinary soap and water.

Biomonitoring California Information

Documents, Presentations, and Publications: 

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