Why Use Natural Preservatives
You just made a new batch of natural face cream. It smells fresh and inviting, and you can’t wait to share your concoction with others, But not so fast… Have you taken the necessary precautions to keep your products from spoiling?
The truth is that when creating water-based products, you have to use some kind of preservatives. Using them at the proper ratio will prevent microbes from multiplying out of control and cause potential health complications for users. Product contamination of microorganisms in skincare products is a serious matter. Depending on the strain of microbes present, it can cause a breakout, irritation, and even a severe skin or eye infection.
How Does Bacteria Get into Personal Care Products?
Bacteria can show up in several ways. One is by manufacturing products without following Good Manufacturing Practices (or GMP).
GMP is a list of commonsense manufacturing guidelines that promote a clean and sanitized environment. Creating formulas without following GMP will probably mean that your product has been contaminated already. And even in case preservatives were incorporated in the formula, they are sentenced to lose their potency right from the start.
Now let’s say for argument’s sake that you’ve managed to eradicate every single last microscopic invader. Remember this: the number one source of contamination is the consumer.
Let’s face it – Most people don’t handle their beauty products with the best of care. When consumers dip their fingers in a product, the inevitably introduce contaminants to the product. It’s just the way it works.
Then there’s storage. Do they keep their cream or lotion in a hot, humid bathroom? Probably. These hot and humid conditions are a perfect breeding ground for bacteria and mold. That’s why using a broad spectrum preservative (which means it is effective against bacteria, mold, and yeast) is fundamental when creating water and oil emulsions.
Natural Preservatives Can Be Used Instead of Synthetics
What are your options for natural preservatives? If you don’t want to use synthetics (think Germaben ingredient family) in your natural or organic lotions and creams, there are a number of natural alternatives that have been found safe and effective. Here are the more popular ones:
Preservative Eco Plus – A formulation of benzyl alcohol, salicylic acid, glycerin and sorbic acid that offers broad-spectrum protection against bacteria, yeast, and mold. It has wide regulatory acceptance and is used around the globe.
Geogard 221 / Cosgard – This preservative has Ecocert status and offers broad-spectrum antimicrobial protection. It contains a synergistic blend of Dehydroacetic Acid and Benzyl Alcohol (both organic compounds) that are ideal for use in natural cosmetics and contains no parabens, formaldehyde or isothiazolinone.
Naticide / Plantaserv Q – A broad spectrum natural preservative that’s effective against bacteria, yeast, and mold. It has a sweet vanilla-like scent that can make adding fragrance unnecessary. Naticide is a good choice if you want to make a “preservative-free” claim on your packaging.
Leucidal® Liquid and Leucidal Liquid SF – Two ECOcert-certified natural preservatives that inhibit microbes by acidifying the environment. Both liquids use natural fermentation and peptides to produce antimicrobial effects and can be used as alternatives to synthetic preservatives. Tests show that a 2% solution of Leucidal® Liquid and Leucidal® Liquid SF can successfully retard microbial growth in a cream or lotion.
Important Note: Don’t confuse preservatives with antioxidants. Antioxidants such as Vitamin E, rosemary extract and grapefruit seed extract are not preservatives. These agents prevent oils from going rancid (through the process of oxidation – hence the need for an antioxidant) but they don’t prevent the growth of bacteria, yeast, and mold!