Parabens are preservative ingredients often found in cosmetics and personal hygiene products, like makeup, moisturizers and hair care products, as well as food products and pharmaceuticals. Parabens can be highly effective in preventing the bacterial and fungal growth that can cause products to spoil, helping to protect consumers and maintain product integrity. They are often used in combination with other types of preservatives to better protect against a broad range of microorganisms.

Currently, the amount of parabens in products is typically quite small. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the World Health Organization indicate these chemicals can be used safely for, and are important ingredients in, preventing fungal and bacterial contamination in cosmetics. Since the early 1970s, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has designated a number of commonly used parabens with its Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) classification, meaning that the substance is shown to be safe under the conditions of its intended use.

FDA also participates on the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR), an independent panel of medical and scientific experts that assesses cosmetic ingredients safety, based on published scientific data. The CIR expert panel has affirmed the safety of parabens used in cosmetic products.