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What Are Parabens And Phthalates?

By Kristin Hunt

Cosmetics are full of ingredients that are hard to understand, and almost impossible to pronounce. Tocopheryl acetate. Squalane. Boron nitride. Scan enough lipstick labels and your head will start to spin. But you’ve probably been hearing a lot about two common makeup ingredients called parabens and phthalates — and you should really understand them, because they’ve attracted a ton of controversy.

What are parabens?

Parabens have been around since the 1950s, and are present in everything from lotions to blush. They go by different names, which usually end in “paraben.” Methylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, and ethylparaben are a couple of the most common ones.