are harmful parabens in cosmetics?

Parabenfreie cosmetics as a fear-mongering

my last info image on Instagram from the series of “Skincare Education” contained the message that parabens are unjustly demonized in cosmetics. The previous studies on mice and rates were never significant enough to justify the extent of phobia of parabens. The putative carcinogenic effect of parabens was strongly challenged by scientists. So far, so serious research on the one hand and panic-making press along with cosmetic companies with cosmetics without Parabens, earned their bread was on the other side. That may change now.

new knowledge about parabens in cosmetics

you know my motto when it comes to research findings: “what is now considered to be operated, may be rebutted tomorrow”. We love new study results because they sharpen our senses and give the incentive to investigate further.

anyway, I promised you latest (I know) research results to inform, which may affect our use of cosmetics or should. This includes warnings related to individual substances.

yesterday an attentive Instagrammerin has sent a message of the German press agency with the current date me, describing the result of a long study about potential side effects of parabens in cosmetics (one of the Sources). As soon as my daughter is asleep, I have sat in the study and would like to report today on the current research situation about parabens in cosmetics you. Also we will respond further down, what parabens are permitted in the moment and in what concentrations in skin care, decorative cosmetics, etc. may occur.

parabens in cosmetics – 2018

on the 4th December 2018 in the journal was “human reproduction” of Oxford University an essay in the nine scientists appeared (mostly from the University of Southern California) the result of a Long-term study of published (1).

in the study was primarily the effects of pesticides, which pregnant women were exposed to the start of puberty of their children. Therefore a group was selected for the experiment of women from rural areas (Hispanics from low-income families).

the original idea, to flow only pesticides in the investigation, but by measuring including two paraben expanded: methyl paraben and propyl paraben.

over 500 pregnant women took part in the experiment. The potential influence of their cosmetics behavior was then tested on over 300 children by a urine test at the age of 9 was carried. Finally the study found relationship between the amount of parabens a pregnant mother and the onset of their child’s puberty in the urine. specifically: an increased Parebenkonzentration in the mother’s urine sample was associated with a premature puberty.

in particular girls, in which a previous

  • menstruation
  • observed development of mammary glands and
  • development of pubic hair were affected.

in boys has been advised on a correlation between the amount of paraben and an earlier maturation of the reproductive organs.

Peripubertal concentrations of methyl paraben were associated with earlier thelarche, pub Ark and menarche in girls, while propyl paraben what is associated with earlier pub Ark in girls and George” Darche in boys.”  (1)

facts about parabens in cosmetics

well, what we should think of the result of the study?

shows we us a few facts relating to parabens in cosmetics at:

  1. in the above-cited study two were taken during the entire pregnancy time only urine samples. We know that parabens have not accumulating effect in the organism and are eliminated after a few hours (24-72h). Are two urine samples enough by which to determine how many cosmetics including skin care product with parabens have actually used the mothers? No. Admit that even the authors of the study. On the other hand, but might assume that the behaviour is fairly constant and a more frequent blood sampling would have probably pulled a similar result to. Maybe. We don’t know that.

  2. a urine sample at the age of 9 was taken by the children. It is to assume that children who have come in the puberty earlier and possibly had problems with an impure skin, have also previously taken to toiletries. Therefore parabens had does not necessarily have to do in urine with the behavior of the mother, but using your own toiletries. It is clear the authors of the study. You wrote:

“However, our findings with peripubertal exposure to methyl and propyl parabens could reflect reverse causality if, for example, girls and boys who entered puberty early were mor” “e likely to use personal care products containing these preservatives compared to children entering puberty later.” (1)

3. In this study, nor in the information about that since a par days in the press are circulating, mentioned that parabens are not only used in cosmetics. We also consume parabens in foods. A US study has looked at, parabens occur in what products and listed this beer over milk products to Eastern and vegetables (2). And all people methyl paraben and propyl paraben (as well as ethyl paraben) were those parabens that most occurred in food. The above mentioned study was conducted on families, which had a below-average income almost to 100%. This could mean that they reached for a cheaper meal more parabens are found in which in turn, I don’t know. Also, it must be stressed that parabens contained in medicines. An increased concentration of propyl paraben in the urine of those detected in a study about parabens in the Chinese population who have taken a medication in the last 24 hours (3). I suppose that one can somehow distinguish the sources of parabens by measurement methods, otherwise you should not exclude parabens in foods and drugs in the overall assessment. Thus I don’t know me but still. If any of you know anything about it, I would be grateful for a hint. In any case, it is surprising that the aspect included in the assessment of the study or is at least mentioned. To do this I will even search.

4. Also to point out that the previous literature, also recent studies from the years 2012 and 2015, could find no link between parabens and the onset of puberty in girls is (4)(5). An essay in “Toxicology letters”, in which the so-called endoktrine disruptors (endocrine active substances) in cosmetics as unproven has been classified (6) was published in 2013.

“overall, despite of 20 years of research a human health risk from exposure to low concentrations of exogenous chemical substances with weak hormones-like activities remains on unproven and unlikely hypothesis.”

5. And finally an important aspect: while in the United States, all types of parabens are permitted and their concentration in the framework of the usual amounts of preservatives in cosmetics is not restricted, the European Union has in 2014 five Parabens banned from cosmetic products and the permitted parabens concentrations limited (see below).

This means that the allowed amount of parabens in cosmetics in the United States is much looser traded than in Europe. That is in plain text, that contain permitted cosmetics, including face creams, shampoos, etc., less parabens market on the EU as in the United States (see the last section). The studies cited in this blog post were all carried out on the US population, which also consumed more parabens as Europeans. I think that we should keep the aspect in mind when we transfer the study results to the skin care behaviour of Europeans.

parabens in cosmetics – really dangerous or scare tactics?

can we sleep so peacefully? I’m afraid not.

the same research team has recently also urine samples of pregnant women under the microscope (or rather microscope) taken. The result was published in the may 2018 (7). The researchers found that the use of skin care product with parabens (this time propylparaben) was associated with pregnant women with low thyroid values : TSH and fT4 (mothers, not newborn). The women were taken only two samples of urine during pregnancy.

“we found evidence that environmental phenols and parabens are associated with lower TSH and free T4 in pregnant women after controlling for” related chemical exposures.” (7)

and then we have yet a study by 2016, which was carried out by a team of other researchers. It is based on two urine samples, which were taken during pregnancy again. This time was a connection between the use of cosmetics with paraben (specifically: methylparaben) and found an increased value of sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG). Also, the results of the study speaks of the influence of butylparaben on the amount of estradiol in the blood (or estradiol, the estrogen).

“the results of this study provide some suggestive evidence for endocrine disrupting effects of phenol and parabens on thyroid during pregnancy and reproductive hormones .” (8)

the latest developments in research on parabens in cosmetics has moved also the US experts to change the existing opinion. End of September 2018 a draft of the new position of the cosmetic ingredient review came expert (here to read CIR 2018) panels (CIR) about parabens in cosmetics. The last CIR has misjudged opinion on parabens in the amount used in cosmetics as a safe. The final version of the new CIR was position with respect to the (hormonal) effect of parabens is still not published. However, it is expected that the opinion will be different this time and that a recommendation to reduce the concentrations of parabens in the United States is made.

parabens in cosmetics – so far no causal

despite all doubts about the latest studies about parabens in cosmetics, are very important to stress two aspects:

the latest research experiments on mice or rate, was no longer but carried out at people .

no artificially increased amounts of Parabens, but concentrations, which actually occur in cosmetics into the experiments.

This means that the two arguments that I have used in the past to the advocacy of parabens in skin care (or to mitigate the fear), seem to be no longer tenable.

I’m advising still to panic nor to throw away all skin care products with Parabens, which just used her. I myself will be on skin care with parabens do the most face creams without, especially and Sera Meanwhile are formulated without parabens.

During pregnancy

I would be

parabens pregnant, I would however retain parabens in the eye. Therefore, I would like to formulate a conservative Council that pregnant women should put on cosmetics without parabens. and that not because the above quoted me 100% convincing results. They do not. Rather, I believe that you should be extremely careful during the particularly responsible. Let me know, if you see this much!

each of the above-cited study ends with the note that further research is necessary, confirm the effect of parabens in cosmetics on the endocrine system or to refute. Also, it must be emphasized that none of the studies of causalities speaks. That means there will be no causal relationships discovered (if – then | ever – more), but hired only guesses.

the blog post is just the beginning of our journey through the exciting research on parabens (and other potentially system-effective ingredients in skin care) and by no means a final verdict about parabens in cosmetics. We will now pursue the discussion and, if appropriate, comment on. Interested in us are especially important voices from the Akademia professional related to the latest findings on the effects of parabens on the human hormonal system. To do this from “the Internet”, we leave out all other voices, ok? A home page should be consulted, is the European Chemicals Agency. There one was appointed namely in 2014 expert group for endocrine disrupters that meets one to three times a year about single Stubstanzen with potential endocrine effects.

I am very excited about your opinion and thoughts about parabens in cosmetics and thank you!

your PIA

bottom finds her still a few facts about parabens in cosmetics.

on the subject: parabens and nanoparticles in baby care

what parabens in cosmetics are permitted?

European Union

as mentioned, has forbidden the EU in 2014 fifth types of parabens: Isopropylparaben, Isobutylparaben, Phenylparaben, Benzylparaben and Pentylparaben.


United States

in the United States are currently all kinds of parabens as preservatives in cosmetic products (see here, FDA).

which concentrations of parabens in cosmetics are allowed?

European Union

ethyl and methylparaben apply, according to the EU, currently as sure in the permitted maximum concentration values. These are: 0.8% for mixtures of preservatives and 0.4% for single parabens.

butylparaben and propylparaben were classified as problematic and the total concentration must not exceed 0.14%. In 2015 was one more additional note on the use of butylparaben and propyl paraben in care for children under three years of age: both parabens but not abolished (except in Denmark Ark), but cosmetic products for children under three years of age a warning on the packaging should include that these two parabens are included. (here, EU, 2015, 10)

United States

the maximum concentration of preservatives in General is not specified by FDA (also here: parabens in cosmetics, FDA 2016). The cosmetics industry is on the guidelines of the personal care products Council (PCPC, formerly: cosmetic, toiletry, and Fragrance Association). One could assume that the concentration of preservatives in cosmetics is about 1-1.5%. This means that in en United States all parabens are permitted up to this concentration.


source 1: Harley, Kim/Bailey, Kimberly, Katherine Cook, et al (2019): Association of phthalates, parabens and phenols found in personal care products with pubertal timing in girls and boys, in: human reproduction, vol. 34 (1), 109-117 fulltext

source 2: Liao, Chunyang, Liu, Fang et. Al. (2013): occurrence of and dietary exposure to parabens in from the United States of Tufts of food, in: environmental science & technology, March 18

source 3: Angel, Lawrence, Buckley, Jessie et. Al (2014): Predictor and variability of repeat measurements of urinary phenol and parabens in a cohort of Shanghai women and men, environmental health perspectives, 122(7), 733-740 (full text)

4: source Butte, Danielle/Sircar, Fanta, Marin, Colleen () 2012): exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals and age of menarche in adolescent girls in NHANES (2003-2008), in: environmental health perspectives,120(11): 1613-1618

5: source Wolff, Mary / Teitelbaum , Susan et al. (2015): environmental phenols and pub Valley development in girls, in: environment international, 84: 174-180.

6: source Nohynek, GL / Borgert, C./Rozman, K. (2013): endocrine disruption: fact or urban legend? ), Toxicology letters, source 223(3):295-305

7: Bailey, Kimberly/Gunier, Robert et al. (2016): associations of maternal exposure to triclosan, parabens and other phenols with prenatal maternal and neonatal thyroid hormones levels , in: environmental research, 165, 379-386

source 8: Aker, Amira/Watkins, Deborah/Johns, Lauren et a. (2016): phenol and parabens in relation to reproductive and thyroid hormones in pregnant women, in: environmental research, 151, 30-37

source 9: Regulation (EU) No. 1004/2014 of the Commission from 18 September 2014 for the amendment of annex V of Regulation (EC) no 1223/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council relating to cosmetic products

source 10: Commission Regulation (EU) No. 1004 /. 2014,