Is Paraben really bad? let's talk about preservatives in skincare

Let us give you a few ingredients to avoid when you buy cosmetic products or any products that you want to put on your skin! 

 Firstly, let’s talk about preservatives.




Among preservatives, parabens have a bad name in the cosmetic world. It’s not hard to see “paraben free” sign on cosmetic and skincare products nowadays.

Research showed that parabens are able to mimic oestrogenic activity in the body, disrupting the normal hormonal function, male and female reproductive systems including its development and fertility. Symptoms of too much oestrogen can include: PMS, insomnia, puffiness and bloating, foggy thinking and mood swings, to name a few. 

The other harmful preservatives are formaldehyde-releasers. Urea is one of the examples. Formaldehydes have a potency to cause hypersensitivity, skin irritation and can lead to contact dermatitis.


Preservatives names to be avoided:

Imidazolidinyl urea



Diazolidinyl urea






DMDM hydration



Sodium hydroxymethylglycinate





Are all the preservatives bad?

Nope. Not all the preservatives are bad! Preservatives actually play a crucial role in skin care products! 


Most cosmetics and skincare products are produced in large quantities which then sit for weeks or months before they are distributed. During the shipping process they sometimes go through extreme temperature changes. 


This makes preservatives an essential part to maintain the stability, to protect the products integrity and to inhibit microorganism like bacteria or fungi growing in order to extend the shelf life of those products. 


Preservatives are also needed in natural and organic products.


So what type of preservatives that is safe enough to be mixed in the chemical?

  • Sodium Benzoate - Common in rinse-off products, safer than the above ingredients, *dangerous if mixed with Vitamin C, it can produce benzene -- cancer causing agent.
  • Phenoxyethanol - Common in leave on products, can cause skin irritation, but still safer than the above ingredients
  • Tocopherol Acetate - Derived from Vitamin E, an emollient and antioxidant
  • Ascorbyl Palmitate - Derived from Vitamin C, an antioxidant
  • Propylene and Butylene Glycols - Hydrates skin, but research also showed it can cause skin irritation

If it is endangering our health, why are those bad chemicals still allowed in Australia?

Not every health-endangering ingredients are banned in Australia.



  • The chemicals can be used in other products apart from cosmetics, e.g. household products. 
  • Their use for cosmetics and skincare products are restricted within certain limits, because of their toxicity at higher concentrations and also the possibility of long-term effects.


However, these substances are able to induce acute skin reactions like rash, allergic reactions and contact dermatitis, especially if you already have low skin integrity (sensitive skin).


Skin is the largest organ in our body which is able to readily absorb anything we put on it.  For these reasons, the standard used for the cosmetics formulation needs to be improved, since many chemicals used are potentially hazardous.


Glass skin. Is very proud that we only curate products that have no harsh ingredients! Check our skin care products - click here

 Hope you enjoyed my blog post today :) 







Brown, H. S., Bishop, D. R., & Rowan, C. A. (1984). The role of skin absorption as a route of exposure for volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in drinking water. American journal of public health74(5), 479–484.


De Groot, A. C., White, I. R., Flyvholm, M. A., Lensen, G., & Coenraads, P. J. (2010). Formaldehyde-releasers in cosmetics: relationship to formaldehyde contact allergy. Part 1. Characterization, frequency and relevance of sensitization, and frequency of use in cosmetics. Contact dermatitis62(1), 2–17.


EWG Skin Deep® Cosmetics Database. (n.d.). Retrieved September 24, 2020, from


Orton, F., Ermler, S., Kugathas, S., Rosivatz, E., Scholze, M., & Kortenkamp, A. (2014). Mixture effects at very low doses with combinations of anti-androgenic pesticides, antioxidants, industrial pollutant and chemicals used in personal care products. Toxicology and applied pharmacology278(3), 201–208.


Panico, A., Serio, F., Bagordo, F., Grassi, T., Idolo, A., DE Giorgi, M., Guido, M., Congedo, M., & DE Donno, A. (2019). Skin safety and health prevention: an overview of chemicals in cosmetic products. Journal of preventive medicine and hygiene60(1), E50–E57.

Robinson, M. K., Gerberick, G. F., Ryan, C. A., McNamee, P., White, I. R., & Basketter, D. A. (2000). The importance of exposure estimation in the assessment of skin sensitization risk. Contact dermatitis42(5), 251–259.