Parabens in cosmetics_header

Parabens in cosmetics: WHAT ROLE DO THEY PLAY

You store your day cream in a warm bathroom. You bring your sun lotion to the beach. And you use your shower gel for several months after opening it. So that your creams, lotions and gels don't have to be stored in the refrigerator - most cosmetic products contain preservatives.

Parabens protect and are well-tolerated

Parabens are safe and tolerable preservatives that play an important role.
Find out more about the background here.

What do parabens do?

Many products would quickly reach their best before date after opening if they did not contain a preservative. They would quickly spoil and become unusable within a short time. This is due to micro-organisms such as bacteria and mould that end up in the product via contact with your skin, and easily multiply in water-based cosmetics. The result is that the products become contaminated, they can no longer achieve their full effect. At this point they could cause illness.

Parabens prevent cosmetic products from going off by killing off bacteria and mould. And this provides you with assurance. By using parabens, NIVEA can guarantee that the quality of its products is maintained over a long period.

Effective and well-tolerated

Parabens are particularly effective preservatives, which are very well-tolerated. That’s why they are most frequently used worldwide, not only in protecting cosmetics but also in household products, pharmaceuticals and foods. And they’ve been used like this for over 80 years. NIVEA uses parabens in around 30 per cent of its products, primarily in body care, sun protection and face care products. Like all ingredients used by NIVEA, parabens are added only where necessary. 

The classic NIVEA Creme, for example, does not usually need any preservatives as its oily recipe protects it naturally from bacteria and mould. 

Parabens are criticised by consumer protection bodies, the media and natural cosmetic producers. It is alleged that parabens are stored in the human body, disrupt the hormone system, cause cancer and limit our reproduction abilities. These fears have, however, proved unfounded. The European Commission and its scientific advisory committees, as well as the independent US assessment commission, the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR), have repeatedly confirmed that parabens pose no risk to our health. 

According to these studies, all parabens absorbed by our bodies are broken down quickly, and therefore parabens are generally well-tolerated. Like all ingredients, they can trigger allergies in isolated cases, but this happens more rarely than with other preservatives.

Parabens give you the assurance that products will maintain their quality.
Preservatives are used only in the smallest quantities.

Can Parabens have an effect on hormones?

Are parabens dangerous?

The answer is an unequivocal “no”. 

It is true that in laboratory trials, many different ingredients have an effect similar to hormones – including parabens – but so do soya and other food products. The effect is, however, much smaller than the effect of many other natural oestrogen (there is a corresponding study here, for example). 

This does not mean that it produces a hormonal effect when using the product. Firstly, preservatives are only used in the smallest possible quantities. Secondly, products are usually only applied to the skin, and lastly, parabens are rapidly broken down if tiny amounts end up in the body.


Throughout their long history of use, ingredients like parabens have always been tested by recognised experts. Parabens are safe according to the conclusions drawn by many scientific studies.

Parabens are not always used

Parabens are a safe and tolerable preservative that plays an important role. Although some sources claim them to be “dangerous chemicals”, parabens are found in nature and are used in such small quantities that no hormonal effects can be proven. Even though NIVEA very consciously uses parabens on account of their many advantages (good tolerability, highly researched and good effect), we also give our consumers the option of purchasing paraben-free products. After all, as an informed buyer, you should decide for yourself which product is best for you. 

Approximately 70% of NIVEA’s range does not contain parabens.

Parabens are safe and tolerable preservatives.

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