What Are Methylparabens And Why You Should Avoid Them.

August 31, 2009

In my continuing series of toxic ingredients and/or chemicals found in our food and skincare products, this time around I wanted to talk about parabens and methylparabens. Methylparaben is from the paraben family of chemicals, and is pretty commonly used as a preservative in cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and food. It is readily and completely absorbed directly through the skin and the gastrointestinal tract, meaning it has absolutely no problem getting into your system via any means. For this reason, among others, it is actually banned in the U.K. for use in all fragrances – but not here in the U.S.. Various studies have shown methylparabens to disrupt our endocrine system, and the Environmental Working Group gives it a score of 8 for a High Hazard ingredient. According to them, methylparabens are linked to cancer, immunotoxicity, and organ system toxicity. Not very safe stuff!

So what products are methylparabens found in? The list is gigantic, and some of the biggest names in the cosmetics industry are included:

  • Revlon
  • Aveda
  • Avon
  • L’Oreal
  • Est’e Lauder
  • Murad
  • Pantene
  • St. Ives
  • Etc.

Like I said, the list goes on and on, so you might be hard pressed to find products and safe cosmetics that DON’T have methylparabens in them. However, if you can do it, it is best to avoid these parabens altogether – the risk isn’t worth it to me when there are safer alternatives available. Keep your eyes open to those ingredient lists and watch for methyparabens!

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Comments (14)

  1. David says:

    So true Marcy, we often just take the word of those giving advice without checking for ourselves!

  2. Marcy says:

    A timely article for me… I just realized the fluoride drops I was giving my son. But upon reading that a) the drops may not actually do anything, an b) methylparabens are to be avoided, I’ve stopped giving them to him. Another reminder not to take advice for granted, and question/research everything. =(

  3. Linda says:

    Some really fastastic products without parabens that are reasonably priced are in the ‘Kiss My Face’ line. Another of my favorites, though more expensive, are NaturaOli and Lavera. The Kiss My Face products can also be purchased from vitacost.com or swansonvitamins.com for at an even bigger discount!

    Of the product lines I mentioned, Lavera is the only one with cosmetics. The rest are skincare/household focused.


  4. Carla says:

    I was shocked when I first learned that Aveda uses parabens in their products when they claim to be so “natural” and earth friendly.

  5. Bonnie says:

    Thanks for posting this. I would, however, love to learn more about WHY parabens, specifically methylparabens are to be avoided. I’ve found that many people talk about how they “disrupt our endocrine system” and are linked to cancer, but I’d love more details. Also, while I love the Skin Deep database, I don’t believe it’s the be-all-and-end-all of resources. If we all keep quoting the same sources, I think we lose a little bit of our credibility.

    And to Linda, who commented earlier, Kiss My Face products sure do have parabens in them.

  6. Linda says:

    I guess I have just been lucky. The items I order/use from Kiss My Face do not contain parabens.

  7. Sara says:

    I too just realized that my daughter’s multivitamin drops with flouride contain methylparaben. I was shocked to say the least! I stopped giving them to her. Any suggested alternatives since I do want to make sure she gets some flouride. We don’t have it in our water system.

  8. Christy says:

    To Sara:
    You may want to research flouride before continuing to give it as well…

  9. vjane says:

    just last night i learned about the negative long term effects of parabens, SLS, and AHA. I checked the products I found in our room last night and sadly I found some parabens in my moisturizers. i have read that Methylparabens react with UVB and can increase aeging skin and DNA damage. I also found SLS in Sunsilk and surprisingly in Johnson’s Baby Milk Bath too. I wish I have learned about this much much sooner. Guess, we can never really trust the industry.

  10. S says:


    SLS (I’m guessing you’re using to mean Sodium Laurel Sulfate or Sodium Laureth Sulfate – if not, disregard my comment 😉 is found in everything that foams, because essentially that’s what it is – a foaming agent. You will find it in all of your shampoos, hand soaps, toothpastes, etc. – again, anything that foams. I find SLS to be one of the hardest things to avoid. I feel like the idea that foaming = effectiveness has been sort of ingrained in our minds. I’ve recently begun switching to products without it and it has taken some time to really feel like these replacements do as good a job as the others. (They do, by the way, I know it is all in my head.)

  11. david says:

    They did when this article was written.

  12. Kat says:

    Aveda products DO NOT contain paraben! I know because I graduated from The Aveda Institute South Florida and know their product. Aveda is earth friendly.

  13. Kat says:

    Sure they did and it has been a few years ago. That’s,”our mission at Aveda is to care for the world we live in. From the products we make to the ways in which we give back to society.” Horst Rachelbacker Aveda Founder. Other products I like using that do not contain parabens and are natural, I strongly suggest are Burts Bees, Mrs. Meyers and Calfornia Baby. Their scents are amazing and safe for children and adults.

  14. Debbi Eberl says:

    Just bought a Joan Rivers product, “The Right to Bare Legs”, I have lots of age spots on my legs hoped this product allow me to wear shorts. It is distrubuted by Tristar Products,Inc. Fairfield, NJ 07004. I’m so disappointed that it contains; all of the parabens. I was treated for breast cancer in 2004 so I should not use it anymore. Thought you might use this info. for others – or to research and/or to reply to me if you can find more info.