A preservative that keeps a product unspoiled. There has been a lot of controversy surrounding parabens, although the concentrations found in cosmetic formulations are generally considered to be safe.
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Propylparaben is a preservative from the group of parabens, a very controversial ingredient group that has attracted a lot of public and scientific attention over recent years.

Parabens are derivatives of para-hydroxybenzoic acid - which can naturally be found in various plants (for example in many berries) - and are very potent and non-irritating preservatives that prevent the growth of microorganisms in skincare formulas.

There has been a lot of controversy surrounding parabens. They are extremely non-irritating on the skin, which is the reason they were chosen as preservative ingredients in the first place. The concerns started after it was discovered that they might act as endocrine disruptors - which means that they may throw off our hormonal balance.

There is, of course, a difference between the paraben intake from food and the paraben exposure from skincare products. Although parabens can penetrate through the skin into the bloodstream, this amount is much lower and the absorption much slower than what we would comparably get from oral intake, and our body has ways to excrete them without causing any harm.

As a result of this research, the European Union and the FDA have stated that parabens as cosmetic additives should not be used at concentrations above 0.4% for a single paraben and 0.8% for a mixture of parabens.

Since 2014, in the countries of the EU, the content of some parabens has been further reduced from 0.4% to 0.14% for a single ester. Some parabens (those with branched side chains) have even been completely banned from use.

Some countries have also imposed their own regulations on parabens. Denmark, for example, has banned large-molecule parabens (including propylparaben) from use in all baby products aimed at children 3 years or younger.

The controversy has actually led to some positive improvements. All of that research has lead to the safety precautions that we have in place today.

The concentration of parabens in skincare products nowadays is completely safe. Of course, if you are still worried, then there is still a wide range of paraben-free products on the market.

It should also be said that the alternative (or so-called 'natural') preservatives that are used instead of parabens may be more allergenic. It is therefore always important to patch-test your new product before use.


Nowak, K., Ratajczak-Wrona, W., Górska, M., & Jabłońska, E. (2018). Parabens and their effects on the endocrine system. Molecular and cellular endocrinology, 474, 238–251.
Fransway, A. F., et al. (2019). Parabens. Dermatitis : contact, atopic, occupational, drug, 30(1), 3–31.
CIR (Cosmetic Ingredient Review). Amended Safety Assessment of Parabens asUsed in Cosmetics. International Journal of Toxicology 2020, Vol. 39(Supplement 1) 5S-97S