Who Needs Preservatives? Well, skin care products certainly do! Anything that contains water (IE. creams, gels, lotions, etc) is a paradise for bacteria, yeast, fungi and molds, and the natural sugars in plant extracts are their favorite snack food.
First and foremost WE DO NOT USE PARABENS! NEVER HAVE AND NEVER WILL!
Many natural substances offer some antibacterial benefits. Certain essential oils, like Tea Tree, Thyme and Oregano at high concentrations can be helpful with some strains of bacteria. Unfortunately, your bathroom, purse, car, or desk drawer is not an ideal condition natural cosmetics. Steam, heat, direct sunlight and other adverse conditions help encourage bacterial growth and most "natural preservatives" can't be used in strong enough concentrations to fight contamination without running the risk of skin irritation or allergic reactions. Others are useful only against certain strains of contaminants and for limited amounts of time. While Vitamin E, Neem and Rosemary Oleoresin Extract (ROE) work wonders at keeping oils from turning rancid, they don't protect against all forms of gram-positive, gram-negative bacteria and yeast which are common in unprotected cosmetic products. Broad-spectrum preservative can be used to boost the preservative action of the natural ingredients, providing protection against a broad range of bacteria, microbes, yeast, fungi and molds. Bacteria can break down ingredients in a product, making it less stable and effective, as well as posing some serious health risks for which you, as the seller, can be held liable. It is dangerous to sell food at a local fair that you knew had mold growing on it the day before, right? So why sell any personal care product to the public that you know is not properly preserved.
In our regular Cosmetic Bases we use stable broad spectrum preservatives along with 4 other natural inhibitors and antioxidants to help with preserving our bases. We feel confident that this is a very positive paraben-free alternative for all of our customers worldwide. We understand that a truly natural broad spectrum preservative is not currently available. There have been attempts by some companies to influence you to believe that they do exist, so we will keep our ears and eyes peeled for something that is effective as well as continue to research and develop our own systems. We are familiar with all of the so called "natural" preservatives on the market, but have not found the test data on any of them to be conclusive when compared to known broad spectrum preservatives.
By combining the healing and nutritive benefits of plant extracts and whole food ingredients with the advances of science, we were able to create products that are safe, effective and gentle. In a word, preservatives can guard against impurities and support the healthful actions of nature's finest botanicals and our customers deserve that kind of protection. Our normal preservative system that includes several natural inhibitors along with broad spectrum preservatives is used to prolong the shelf life for a minimum of 12 to 24 months or more. Some of the natural inhibitors and antioxidants we use are Tocopherol (Natural Vitamin E), Azadirachta indica (Neem) Oil, Rosmarinus officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract, Salix nigra (Black Willow Bark) Extract (not White Willow Bark which does not have the same effect). In some cases we use a blend of Essential Oils, Potassium Sorbate, Citric Acid, Usnea barbata (Usnea Lichen) Extract as well.
Preservatives are necessary because the water portion of a product is the perfect breeding ground for mold, fungus, bacteria and yeast. It is only a matter of time and all cosmetics will go bad. What is frightening is that the product might look and smell just fine, but be filled with micro organisms that are dangerous for your skin and health. Some products may look fine on the outside, but when you run them through micro testing, the bacteria, yeast, fungus and mold count can be off the charts. Other times, the signs of contamination are more visually obvious. Possible signs of a product going bad can be a rancid odor, product separation and visual evidence of mold in a variety of colors. The problem with the visual or smell test is that they can be very deceptive to the untrained nose or eye. An unstable, under-preserved product can be contaminated by the water in the product, spores in the air, even unseen contaminates in your packaging and the germs on your hands. A good stable preservative system can keep your product safe and free from these microorganisms for years. Sometimes you might ask, "Why doesn't Brand X use preservatives?" There are five possible answers to the question of how Brand X uses no preservative. One: There is a preservative system on the market with the INCI name of “Fragrance”, which does not disclose the actual ingredients and hides the preservative in the ingredient itself which acts like a broad spectrum preservative and is used in some of the biggest "natural" lines on the market. Two: There are many products on the market that failed USP and CTFA Challenge Testing and grew yeast, mold, bacteria and fungus quickly. And when asked why they are still making the efficacy claims they are, the manufacturers simply state that "They passed OUR testing requirements." Three: They do not fully disclose their ingredient list. This is common of all size companies that mislead their customers, thinking they are protecting their formulas. Their products do not fail micro tests, showing the amazing abilities of broad spectrum preservation yet, they do not have any ingredient listed that has any preservative properties at all. We find that odd at best. Four: They might be using ingredients that do not require preservatives. For instance a product that does not contain water might not require preservatives, only an antioxidants such as Vitamin E. Five: They could be using extracts in one or two different methods. Tinctures used at the right percentage create an effective preservative option. But be careful as many extracts are made in a propylene or butyl glycol base and are themselves preserved with parabens, triclorisan or urea but not disclosed as the manufacturer is only required to list it as an extract since they are considered "processing aides". These used at high enough levels without fully disclosing the other ingredients can create an effective preservative system. But be careful you don't give up one chemical for another. We hope that helps with many of your questions about "WHY PRESERVATIVES" and hope that you make the right choice when choosing products. We believe we have made the right decision for your safety and the FDA agrees with us.
Phenoxyethanol & EDTA Preservative System Phenoxyethynol is created by treating phenol with ethylene oxide in an alkaline medium. Each ingredient individually does not sound great, but when they react it creates a safe and effective preservative. Individually many chemicals may harm you, but together they create a beneficial product. For instance, lye alone is extremely dangerous, but after it reacts with oil and water to create castile soap it is harmless and useful. The MSDS for a pure ingredient can cause undo alarm. But as you consider other ingredients that are widely used and safe in cosmetics you will find that the MSDS sounds alarming for them as well. For instance commonly used ingredients like glycolic acid, lye, citric acid, potassium sorbate and even essential oils have MSDS warnings that could be misunderstood and deemed as too dangerous to use in cosmetics. However, we all know that these ingredients are commonly used in cosmetics. The MSDS sheet is designed to inform the end user of how to handle the ingredient properly in an undiluted form. Some companies claim that phenoxyethynol is derived from rose oil, sage oil, minerals, plant derivatives and even coconut. But honestly, phenoxyethynol is not even remotely related to these ingredients. It is, however, very safe. It is not pH dependant and not a formaldehyde releasing agent. It is paraben free. It does not react with other ingredients, air or light. It is very stable. According to the CIR Expert Panel it is safe as a cosmetic ingredient as it is currently used. It has been tested on the skin and eyes and it is non irritating and non sensitizing at levels of 2.2% or lower. We use phenoxyethynol at 1% or less. You may have seen phenoxyethynol used in cosmetics in conjunction with other preservatives, such as parabens. This is because phenoxyethynol is not a broad spectrum preservative by itself. Through extensive research and testing, we have found success in combining it with another commonly used and completely safe cosmetic ingredient, Edta. Tetrasodium Edta is derived from sodium salts. Edta is used as a chelating agent. The Greek root of the word chelate is chele which means “to claw”. The root of the word creates a great visual image of what Edta as a chelating agent does. Edta “claws” or “binds” minerals, which are necessary components for the growth of mold. For instance, Edta binds up magnesium which is necessary for mold to grow. In cosmetics, Edta not only is a great additive to create a stable product, but it also pulls heavy metals from your skin when you apply the cosmetic. Edta is widely used for chelation therapy, which is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a treatment for lead and heavy metal poisoning. An estimated one million people in America use chelation therapy for this purpose. The NIH National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) is currently funding a study to prove the effectiveness of Edta chelation therapy for heart disease. Over 100,000 people per year use it in place of heart surgery. In chelation therapy, Edta is injected intravenously. Once in the bloodstream, Edta latches onto lead and other metals to form a compound that can be excreted in the urine. Edta is also used in many foods, for instance mayonnaise and soft drinks, that include ascorbic and sodium benzoate to reduce the formation of benzene (a carcinogen). It is often used in household products. In household products it is sent out into waste water and it binds up the minerals. While Edta is non toxic in waste water it can impact the natural balance of minerals. Some might wonder why we use preservatives at all. The water portion of a product is the perfect breeding ground for mold, fungus, bacteria and yeast. It is only a matter of time and all unpreserved cosmetics will go bad. What is frightening is that the product might look and smell just fine, but be filled with micro organisms that are dangerous for your skin and health. Some products may look fine on the outside, but when we run them through micro tests, the bacteria, yeast, fungus and mold count is off the chart. Other times, the signs of contamination are more obvious. Possible signs of a product going bad can be an off smell, separation and visual evidence of mold. An unstable, unpreserved product can be contaminated by the water in the product, spores in the air, even unseen contaminates in your packaging and the germs on your hands. A good stable preservative system can keep your product safe and free from these microorganisms for years.