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Preservatives in cosmetics

Some lay people with little scientific knowledge have started a trendy fad and frenzy about preservatives used in cosmetics and skin care products and all sorts of half-truths are being bandied about as gospel, while other research data is used out of context to fuel the cravings of some “write-a-book-to-scare-consumers-and-sell-a-million-copies” individuals.

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Much is said about preservatives in cosmetics, and when surfing around on the web, you will be supplied with literally thousands of pages of information dealing with this, but with such a variety of conflicting ideas and data people simply do not know who and what to believe.

The truth

Let’s start with a simple plain truth.

There can be no safe cosmetic or nontoxic skin care product without having some way to preserve the product.

Not only does it extend the shelf life of the product, but even more important, helps to prevent health-destroying pathogens forming in your innocent looking cosmetic jar.

To control microbial growth and to stabilize any cosmetic product, some form of preservative needs to be used.

Contamination of skin care products preservatives in cosmetics and skin care products

Contamination of products happens in the blink of an eye – and our research laboratory have tested contaminated skin care products sent from other manufacturers to determine which pathogens, and how, they were formed in the cosmetic products.

Some contamination can happen by mere chance – yet it is astounding and disgusting that so many people have appalling levels of hygiene, and contaminate their creams by not following simple hygiene rules like washing your hands after going to the bathroom – even less – to handle and apply skin cream without washing your hands.

"Preservative free" cosmetics

It is illegal to make potentially toxic and harmful skin care products – and if you boldly state that your product is “free of preservatives” – you are either an out-right liar or are selling potentially fatal goods to unsuspected consumers.

Negative effects of preservatives in cosmetics

We agree that there are some preservatives that have inherent adverse effects. There can be negative side effects of too much preservative in cosmetics, as it can cause skin allergies in susceptible people, including dermatitis and other side effects.

However – data on some common preservatives, used for nearly eighty years – are distorted to fit whatever evil you wish it to take the blame.

Since there are consumers that do not wish to use a product containing parabens as a preservative, we made the choice some time ago, to replace our preservative system with something far more eco-friendly that is super effective, yet mild on the skin and not causing any allergies or side effects.

The most important word to keep in mind when discussing preservatives is the word "balance".

The right balance preservatives in cosmetics and skin care products

You need to include enough preservative to control microbial growth, yet not too much so as to cause allergies, dermatitis or any side effects.

When you wish to achieve this balance it takes both time and money, as you need to have microbial and stability tests done on your products to ascertain the correct levels of preservatives to be used.

Should a manufacturer decide not to spend the time or money on testing and refining a formula, a stable product can still be made, by simply including very high amounts of preservatives.

This will stop microbial growth, but may cause all the negative effects - dermatitis, allergies and other side effects.

How we use preservatives preservatives in cosmetics and skin care products

We prefer to spend the money on developing a product, and tracking its entire manufacturing process, by batch, to ensure that our products are stable, yet not over-filled with preservatives.

Parabens and all their cousins are the most widely used preservatives in cosmetics, and if included and used correctly by the formulating manufacturer, are safe to use.

Yet due to consumers having a lopsided idea about parabens we are now using paraben-free preservatives.

Various allegations are made against parabens and these claims range from their being a cause of breast cancer and liver problems etc.

Most of these claims are not applicable to cosmetics, as parabens are only used topically and not systemically, with due reference to our comments above regarding the quantities in the formulations.

It must also be noted that the European Cosmetic Toiletry and Perfumery Association (COLIPA) affirm that parabens are hydrolyzed in the skin and that they do not enter the bloodstream. Parabens are not officially identified or listed as an endocrine disrupting chemical by any government or regulatory organization.

To have a look at the formulations used in our skin care products please follow the hyperlink.

When we selected our preservative system, we made sure that it is non-toxic (even at very high levels), non-irritant, non-sensitizing – yet – effective in controlling microbial growth and delivering a stable and safe product to our clients.

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Last modified on 21 July 2014