What are Parabens?

Parabens in lubricant

Parabens are ester compounds of bound acidic and fatty oils which act as preservatives. These preservatives are also designated E-numbers, as well as some occurring naturally within plants. They are used in lubricants due to their odourless, flavourless, and preservative properties. They are ideal at extending liquids and cosmetics shelf life due to their high miscibility with other fluids; which also aids in controlling the overall products viscosity, density, and liquid texture. After all, what’s the point of producing and buying a lubricant made-up of guppy, too runny, or too thick, short-lived, particles which neither mixes well with your natural lubricant as well as defunct at preventing unwanted friction?

The problem with parabens is that they have shown to have influential properties on the body’s natural estrogens. Acting as endocrine disruptor’s  meaning they mimic estrogens, alliterating your body’s natural hormones. This estrogenic effect has been documented to interrupt women’s natural mistral cycles, the production of male semen, interfere with female fertility, upset the body’s thyroid activity, and the most monstrous of reactions seen through how influential parabens are when encouraging the growth of cancerous cells (in particular breast cancer). Research into parabens is still limited, yet there seems to be enough evidence to prevent the use of them in certain cosmetic, and are even banned within products in certain countries. You may have noticed a mass influx of toiletries now proudly stating that they are ‘paraben free’ as well as free from other harmful chemicals.

In addition to these negative side effects, there are a few people who allergic to parabens. If you are experiencing a negative reaction when using lubrication, it may be due to the influence of parabens within them.

Although parabens can be found naturally within certain foods; such as blueberries, grapefruit, carrot, and cucumber. When consumed as a food they go through various natural bodily defences, and are filtered out of the body rapidly through the liver. Unlike when parabens are found in skincare products which may be applied to the skin or hair follicles, where these toxic chemicals skin the body’s natural defences before reaching the blood stream. I’ve read various resources suggesting that parabens aren’t absorbed into the skin easily due to their hygroscopic abilities meaning they cling to other fluids, producing a puddle upon the skins surface. Yet I’ve also read that parabens destroy the body’s natural enzymes which regulate the estrogens levels in the body, when applied to the skin. Furthermore, parabens within lubricants aren’t added just to normal skin, but are applied to the genitals and rectum where the skin tissue has higher absorbency. In addition parabens within lubricants are mixed with several other chemicals which are designed to increase the products absorption rate and offer moisturising effects. These are necessary to make using lubrication pleasurable and efficient, as having to wash off sticky tack residue after each use can be a chore.

Man-made parabens versus naturally occurring: Although parabens are naturally occurring within certain fruits and vegetables, the percentage found within these natural produce is significantly small compared to man-made parabens. Also naturally occurring parabens will come hand in hand with other naturally occurring properties which help counter balance the toxicidity levels. Whereas manmade parabens are often produced along with other chemicals which will encourage the toxic effect and assist it.


Avoiding parabens completely can be difficult. They are still used within so many products and without more comprehensive research they will be continued to be used due to their convince. Although there are many other, safer preservatives available, many don’t mix as fluidly as parabens, resulting in more expensive and long winded manufacturing processes.

I personally can’t say whether or not one should use parabens filled lubricants. There are many products now opting for a parabens free mantra. With those which still use parabens, you may find that these particular lubricants work for you even if they may have possible negatives. In my opinion, with these companies choosing to create lubricants, oils, and other intimate products which include the use of parabens, I feel they should at least regulate the amount used as well as careful consideration of other chemicals used, therefore reducing the overall risk of toxicity.

Natural and less toxic preservatives include vitamin E, and lactic acid (which can also help maintain the vaginal and gut flora PH).

Lubricants will always contain one form or another of preservatives which will act as antibacterial, antifungal, and anti caking, prolong product life and sell by date – this is necessary.

A list of parabens found within lubricants:

Ethylparaben E-number E214; is an antifungal, antiseptic, and moisturising preservative.

Sodium Ethylparaben E-number E215; this is an alkaline preservative.

Propylparaben  E-number E216;A preservative which has a high miscibility with waterbase fluids.

Sodium Propylparaben E-number E217; Salt component of propylparaben which acts as an antifungal.

Methylparaben  E-number E218; A preservative with antimicrobial and antifungal agents. It is readily absorbed by the skin.

Sodium Methylparaben E-number E219; is a preservative and salt component of methylparaben.

If natural plants containing parabens are used within products, only the fruit or vegetable needs to be listed and not the parabens. Common fruits and vegetables containing parabens used within lubricants are: Grapefruit, blueberries, cucumber.


Paraben Free Lubricants:



Give Lube

Good Clean Love


Sh! Lush Pure


Reference links:



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