I know you love your skin and you want to take the best care of it; I know that you are scared to use products that contain tons of synthetics and harmful chemicals. The bad news is that marketers do also know it and may take advantage of it, deceive you and risk your health.
The whole story started when parabens were found in breast tumors; we all got instantly alarmed. Cosmetic marketing departments quickly discovered this and companies started coming up with formulas that were “Paraben Free”, “Formaldehyde Free” or even worse “Preservative Free”. Unfortunately, they forgot to take into account the impact this “preservative-free” marketing strategy could have on public health.
Are preservatives necessary?
Yes, it is indisputable that preservatives are essential to a plethora of cosmetic formulations. Water is the perfect ground for microorganism growth. Consequently, water containing products such as emulsions, creams, hydrogels, lotions, masks, and extracts are very likely to be contaminated by bacteria, yeast, mold, and fungus. This contamination may not only reduce the shelf life of the product and lead to loss of its performance but can also be very dangerous for the user’s skin. Especially when applied to open lesions or sensitive areas of the skin e.g. around the eyes, a contaminated product may cause serious infections and irritations.
Do all cosmetic products need preservatives?
Luckily, not. Microorganisms can’t survive in an anhydrous environment. As a result, water free products such as body oils, lip balms, face balms, ointments and dry powders do not necessarily require preservatives to be safe.
Am I safe if I just keep it in the fridge?
No. Indeed, microorganisms thrive in moist, humid and warm conditions that may exist for example in your bathroom, where you probably store your cosmetics. However, although refrigerating would slow down their growth, the product still wouldn’t be safe for use. Environmental conditions are not the only ones to blame for contamination; microorganisms can also be introduced into the product during its repeated application (e.g. lipstick coming in touch with lips or skin cream in a wide jar applied with fingertips).
Which preservatives should I avoid?
The toxic effects of chemical preservatives are highly dependent on their concentration in the product, the frequency of application, the condition of your skin and many other personal characteristics. In any case, the following preservatives have been reported to cause irritations mainly to people with skin sensitivities, so I would recommend you would better avoid them.
- Methylchloroisothiazolinone (MCI)
- Methylisothiazolinone (MI)
- Methyldibromo glutaronitrile
- DMDM hydantoin
- Diazolidinyl urea
- Imidazolidinyl urea
- Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate
Paraben esters (methyl, ethyl, propyl, butyl, benzyl)
The solution is hidden in nature! ...Where else?
I apologize for having to exclude all those ingredients from your daily routine, but you know that I wouldn’t leave you without a solution. “Go green!” Safe organic preservatives are abundant out there; they just need an experienced formulator to combine them and make them work in the product. Some of these natural effective preservatives include:
- Benzyl Alcohol
- Salicylic Acid
- Sorbic Acid.
- Benzoic Acid
- Dehydroacetic Acid
- Potassium Sorbate
- Sodium Benzoate
- Sodium Levulinate
- Sodium Anisate
Substances like these can be excellent choices to efficiently preserve the formulation and keep your skin safe.
So don’t be scared anymore; Preserve!