Preservatives in cosmetics

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 it, but with such a variety of conflicting ideas and data that people simply do not know who and what to believe.

Placing preservative in cosmetics in perspective

  • The most important thing is that any cosmetic products must be safe for use.
  • Any product manufactured without an ingredient to prevent and control microbial growth will start to go off and may even start growing potentially dangerous pathogenic organisms.
  • To control microbial growth and to stabilize any cosmetic product, some form of preservative needs to be used.

Negative side effects of too many preservatives in cosmetics

The downside of preservatives also has some compelling arguments.

Some ingredients can cause allergies in susceptible people, including dermatitis and other side effects.

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

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 do microbial and stability tests on your products.

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 can cause all the negative effects – dermatitis, allergies, and other side effects.

How we use preservatives

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 using paraben-free preservatives whenever it is possible.

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.