Parabens (para-hydroxybenzoates) are a group of chemicals that are commonly used as preservatives in cosmetic products to prevent the growth of bacteria and mold. Parabens are used in several products, such as shampoos, lipsticks, lotions, deodorants and facial moisturizers. The parabens used most commonly in cosmetics are methylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, and ethylparaben.
In recent years, a growing concern has emerged about their potential endocrine disrupting effect and possible link with breast cancer. It has still remained a controversial hypothesis, since no scientific study has yet proved that parabens are toxic or carcinogenic chemicals.
Thus, regulatory organizations have agreed that specified concentrations of parabens are safe for consumer use (0.4% for each paraben species and 0.8% in combination). Parabens must necessarily be listed in ingredients on the product label, so that consumers can decide whether they wish to use it or not.