For 135 years we have led the way in beauty product research and development, with an impressive track record for safety – the longest in the industry. No ingredient is added to our products unless it is safe.

Parabens are a family of compounds which help prevent fungal and bacterial contamination that have been used safely since the 1920s in a wide variety of consumer products, including food, drugs, cosmetics and personal care products. Because of their long-established history of safe use, parabens are used by the vast majority of global cosmetics companies as an important health and safety precaution. Some attributes that make parabens especially safe include the fact that they are poorly absorbed through the skin, have low toxicity and are excreted quickly.

A few studies have suggested that parabens may have very weak "estrogenic" activity. Separately, some naturally occurring oestrogens, such as oestradiol, are known to increase the growth of tumours. While it is understandable how people might interpret this as a link between parabens and cancer, there is no widely accepted scientific evidence to support this. Numerous studies have shown that parabens do not act like oestrogen in the body. Parabens are 10,000 to 100,000 times less active than oestrogens produced in the human body. By comparison, plant oestrogens (phytoestrogens) found in dozens of foods such as broccoli, grapes, oats, coffee and potatoes are 1,000 to 10,000 times more active than the parabens in cosmetics.

The main parabens used as preservatives in cosmetics come in two forms: "short chain" (methyl-and ethyl paraben) and "long chain" (propyl- and butyl paraben). There is also some limited use of isobutyl- and isopropyl parabens, also known as "branched chain parabens".

Government scientists and other experts have concluded that scientific evidence unequivocally supports the safety of parabens. The organisations that have investigated the safety of parabens include the World Health Organization, the US Food and Drug Administration, Anvisa in Brazil, and the EU Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (SCCS), a committee of experts that advises the European Commission. Each of these organisations has concluded that parabens can be used safely and are important ingredients in preventing fungal and bacterial contamination of cosmetics.

We will not compromise our 135-year history of safety. We will continue to take appropriate action to protect the safety of our consumers and the quality of our products, as well as offer consumer choice. Consistent with our unwavering commitment to safety but in recognition of the fact that some consumers have a preference for products without parabens, we have taken several steps:

  • Starting in 2002, we began eliminating parabens from some of our products where there are safe alternatives. Today, these paraben-free products include lip products; women's body care; antiperspirants and deodorants; and children's products.
  • Beginning in 2006, we made the decision to develop new products without using isobutyl and isopropyl parabens.

Consumers can continue to use our products with confidence, and can make their own choices regarding parabens (or any other ingredients) by reading the product label. Products containing parabens are clearly labelled in the ingredient listing, which is strictly guided by law.

Product ingredient information can be found at