How To Use Methylparaben For Skin, Benefits, & Side Effects

Medically Reviewed by Dr. Priya Gill, MBBCH, MRCP
Written by Anjali Sayee

Methylparaben is an ingredient used in skin care products. It has antimicrobial properties and is mostly used as a preservative to increase the longevity of skin care products. However, most people try to avoid methylparaben for skin. Is it risky to use? Can it harm your skin? Read this article to clear all your doubts related to methylparaben.

What Is Methylparaben And Why Is It Used In Skin Care?

Chemical structure of methylparaben for skin


Parabens are preservative esters added to skin care products in concentrations of 0.8% (a blend of parabens) to 0.4% (individual paraben) (1). Parabens are of different types:

  • Methylparaben
  • Propylparaben
  • Ethylparaben
  • Isopropyl paraben
  • Butylparaben
  • Isobutylparaben
  • Benzylparaben

Out of all, methylparaben is frequently used in cosmetics. It naturally occurs in blueberries and is developed synthetically in labs (2). It is used in cleansers, lotions, moisturizers, masks, gels, tanning lotions, and baby skin care products (between 0.3% and 0.5%). Methylparaben serves a purpose in skin care products. Let’s take a look at its benefits.

Benefits Of Adding Methylparaben To Skin Care Products

  1. Methylparaben has antimicrobial and antifungal properties (2).
  2. It has no specific odor or taste, a neutral pH level, and does not discolor or turn murky. This property of methylparaben increases the shelf life of the products.

Methylparaben is not available as a separate ingredient and has no such skin benefits. It is incorporated in products.

How To Use Methylparaben And How Often

Methylparaben is used in different concentrations (not more than 0.5%) in all skin care products. You can use them as per the manufacturer’s instructions.

It can be used on all skin types except eczema-prone, acne-prone, and sensitive skin. Methylparaben is used in small concentrations in products and considered to be safe. However, there are some side effects you need to be aware of.

Side Effects Of Methylparaben

  1. Parabens may increase the risk of breast cancer as they penetrate the skin and remain in the breast tissue (3). They can also disrupt endocrine function (thyroid and adrenal glands) and cause structural and functional changes in the skin. This may increase the skin’s rate of UV absorption and increase the risk of skin cancer.
  2. One of the main concerns regarding methylparaben is it can mimic estrogen and may disrupt hormonal balance and thyroid function (4).
  3. A study on mice found that methylparaben could activate TRPA1 channels (sensory neurons) and stimulate pain sensations (5).
  4. Research on toxicity levels of methylparaben shows that it may irritate the skin when used in high concentrations (6).
  5. Methylparaben may have a disruptive effect on the reproductive system in women. Research shows that parabens remain in the blood and affect menstruation and cause reproductive issues (3).
  6. Parabens may cause allergic contact dermatitis and lead to skin inflammation such as blisters, burning sensations, and rashes (3).

Parabens are used in low concentrations in skin care products. However, if you want to avoid them completely, you can go for safer alternatives.

Are There Safer Alternatives?

There are many paraben-free products available on the market. These are safer options and don’t affect your health and skin as parabens do. Also, you can check for products with plant-based preservatives.

Methylparaben is used in skin care products as a preservative to increase their shelf life. The antimicrobial and antifungal properties of methylparaben make it an excellent choice as a preservative. Since it is used in small concentrations, it is safe on all skin types except sensitive, eczema-prone, and acne-prone skin. However, it has some potential side effects if used in higher concentrations or penetrates the skin and reaches the bloodstream. Always do a patch test before you use products with parabens. You may also look for safer alternatives with plant-based preservatives.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does methylparaben cause acne?

Yes. Methylparaben can mimic estrogen, leading to a hormonal imbalance in the body which may contribute to acne breakouts.

Is methylparaben safe for babies?

Though methylparaben is found in many baby products, it has not yet been proven safe for babies.

Is methylparaben an active ingredient?

No, methylparaben is an inactive ingredient used as a preservative in various products.

What is another name for methylparaben?

Methylparaben may also be referred to as methyl parahydroxybenzoate, methyl p-hydroxybenzoate, p-carbo methoxyphenol, and 4-hydroxybenzoic acid methyl ester.

Key Takeaways

  • Methylparaben is a popular preservative used to make skin care products last longer.
  • Methylparaben is an antimicrobial and antifungal agent and has no distinct taste or odor.
  • There are different levels of methylparaben used in skin care products, and it is generally considered safe when used in small amounts.


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  1. Final Amended Report On The Safety Assessment Of Methylparaben Ethylparaben Propylparaben Isopropylparaben Butylparaben Isobutylparaben Benzylparaben as Used in Cosmetic Products
  2. Methylparaben
  3. Comprehensive Effects of Parabens in Human Physiology
  4. Parabens Used in Cosmetics
  5. Methyl p-hydroxybenzoate causes pain sensation through activation of TRPA1 channels
  6. Final Report on the Safety Assessment of Methylparaben, Ethyl paraben, Propyl paraben, and Butylparaben
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Dr. Priya Gill

Dr. Priya Gill is a consultant dermatologist in Klang, Malaysia. She specializes in the management of all medical and surgical... more