Skincare Uncovered series 

Busting the myths about skincare. This series is evidence-based, perhaps conversational, maybe a slight bit cheeky, and ultimately aims to educate.




Yes… we are paraben-free.

We know if you’ve come across this article, it’s likely you were scouring our site, studying each product page, searching for our full product composition.

You were looking for the ‘tick boxes’, the ingredients you know your skincare has to have (according to popular opinion), and equally, for the ingredients it shouldn’t have, because they are ‘bad’.

So, yes – to answer your question – we are paraben-free.

But here's the thing – we don't NEED to be. 

Like many ingredients, parabens have been demonised in marketing over recent years, and in this article, we’ll explore why that may be the case, and reveal the truth behind what they do and don’t do, and how ‘dangerous’ they really are.

We've all heard the saying, 'fear of the unknown'. But when we take the opportunity to learn about the 'unknown', often we realise 'hey, it's not actually that bad… or even bad at all!'

What are parabens and what do they do?

Parabens are preservatives that, until recently, were very commonly used in skincare.

It’s been almost 100 years since we started using them, and they have been hugely popular across several industries ever since.


They are gentle, non-sensitising and easy to formulate. Arguably, they are the most effective preservative, especially in skincare.

When used in skincare products, parabens prevent growth of bacteria and mould, making them safe and extending their shelf life.
While 100% oil-based products or products with the right volume of glycerine/glycols are self-preserving, most others aren’t, and all that is needed for mould and bacteria to grow in your skincare, is water – which can easily be introduced on your own fingers. 

There shouldn’t be this much fear about preservatives - they are crucial in skincare that is both effective and safe. 

The FDA has released several reports of skincare users contracting skin infections from poorly preserved skincare products. There has even been a report of a user going blind as a result of a severe eye infection!



Did you know? If you've ever eaten cucumbers, cherries, carrots, blueberries, or onions, you've eaten parabens. 

Parabens occur naturally in plants for a good reason -- plants make and use them to protect themselves against bacteria and mould. Scientists were quick to figure this out and clever enough to put them in products to prevent their spoilage. 

While the parabens we use are synthetic, they are almost identical to naturally occurring parabens and are rapidly secreted from our bodies in the same way. 


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Why is there so much fear of parabens?

In the last few decades, perhaps more than any other, we’ve become increasingly aware of our health and what affects it. We’ve also seen social media rise and become a dominant way of sharing information and creating trends.

As part of this, movements geared around ‘natural’ or ‘organic’ ingredients have developed a reputation for being trustworthy.

At the same time, fear has been stirred up around additives and preservatives, regardless of their origin or composition. Unfortunately for parabens, while they are naturally occurring, they are also a well-known and common preservative.

This fear has been perpetuated by poor, hand-picked studies that media and marketing teams have used to support their claims against parabens.

What many people may not realise though, is that the outcome of any study is impacted by a vast array of different factors – and the better (and more accurate) the study is, the more of these factors have been eliminated from the process.

For this reason, for any one area being studied, for example, the effect of parabens, it will always be easy to find a small handful of poorly-conducted studies to support the idea they are harmful, while ignoring the vast majority that support the opposite. 

Of all the myths about parabens, three are among the highest circulating. We’ll explore and bust those myths -- right here, right now. 

Myth #1: Parabens interfere with how our glands and hormones function

While some early studies suggested some types of parabens can affect our endocrine system (made up of the glands that make hormones), as with anything, ‘the devil is the dose’.

Those studies were performed on rats given doses much higher than humans might ever encounter. The study effectively tested poisoning or overdosing, and it should be noted that even drinking water can be fatal for humans when the volumes consumed are too high. 

The levels of parabens in skincare are NOT nearly high enough to impact on hormone function.

Biology is complicated and even the best designed rat experiments often don’t predictor human reactions to exposure.

In fact, the most recent and most comprehensive study released in 2021 revealed that parabens do NOT bioaccumulate (gradually build up in your body) and DO NOT possess any endocrine (hormonal) disrupting properties.

Myth #2: Parabens cause cancer

Way back in 2004, a study claimed to have found the presence of parabens in breast cancer tissue, which generated extensive media coverage. 

However, as with any scientific study, here's where we need to be careful -- the study was limited, as no comparison was made between the cancer tissue and healthy tissue, and parabens were negative test samples that did not contain any tissue! Further, the mere presence of any chemical does not indicate a role in disease. 

Since then, the overwhelming majority of scientific evidence supports the safety of parabens in cosmetics and personal care products. The European Commission's Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety and the US Food and Drug Administration both consider parabens to be safe for use in these products.

Until this present day, further research has failed to show a clear link between parabens and breast cancer…or any other cancer.


Myth #3: Parabens are skin irritants

There are no studies that have indicated sensitivity to parabens in any way that is beyond that of any other ingredient. In fact, studies have shown the opposite – parabens have low allergenicity rates (irritating or sensitising), compared to other preservatives and active ingredients (think essential oils). 

Every skincare ingredient has the potential to cause irritation to some users, in the same way that different foods can. What’s more, skin sensitivities are almost unpredictable and what is fine with one person, may be irritating to the next.

This is where ‘knowing your skin’ helps and, unfortunately, it can be a game of ‘trial and error’. 

What is used in place of parabens?

Thankfully, we now have a new line of preservatives. These include phenoxyethanol (widely used), benzyl alcohol, sorbates, benzoic acids and blended approaches with glycols. We have also welcomed a recent recruit -- ethylhexylglycerin.

While they all play a crucial role in your skincare, based on current trends, it is only a matter of time before an Instagram influencer demonises them too, leaving us with increasingly vulnerable products. 

There is even a growing movement against phenoxyethanol already – a recent and effective preservative.

At the end of the day... 

What is clear is parabens are extensively studied and have been found to be safe -- yet, despite this, the damage to their reputation has been done. 

Even popular staple brands have reformulated their hero products to be paraben-free – not because it was ineffective or harmful, but because public opinion swayed so much that it affected their sales. 

Every time we demonise a preservative or ingredient that is safe, it actually makes our products increasingly unsafe. It means we have one less resource available to prevent mould and bacterial growth. 

That can’t be good. 

Disclaimer: If you're concerned about the use of parabens in your skincare products, it's always a good idea to talk to a dermatologist or a healthcare professional to determine what's best for your individual skin type and needs. This blog was published on available research as of March 2023. 


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