The practice of making skincare cosmetics from naturally sourced materials is fast becoming a norm.
In Nigeria and perhaps the entire world, there is a formulator somewhere who swears that their lotions contain only natural ingredients, no artificial preservatives and a very long shelf life.
According to cosmetics info, a preservative is a natural or synthetic ingredient that is added to products such as foods, pharmaceuticals and personal care products to prevent spoilage, whether from microbial growth or undesirable chemical changes.
With this in mind, any professional formulator would know that bacteria can grow in your formulations and that some of these bacteria, molds etc. cannot be seen with naked eyes.
These bacteria/mold can come from what we assume are sanitary places. When you introduce your wet fingers into your cream, for instance, you have provided a home for bacteria in your cream.
This is why preservatives are needed – to keep these buggers off your cosmetics thereby extending the shelf life of your cosmetic products.
If preservatives were not present in the first place, you products would only last a couple of days before you had to dispose of them.
Therefore if you have any intentions to sell your cosmetics, then you must take time out to study and understand preservatives rather than demonize them.
There are several preservatives out there. Some are broad spectrum ones while the narrow spectrum preservatives also exist. Some are oil soluble while some others are water soluble preservatives. Some preservatives are made from natural sources while some others are synthesized in laboratories.
Contrary to what the title suggests, preservatives are not demons. You must only understand which ones to avoid and this will depend on which formulation that you are developing. This means that you must be careful when you are making formulations for babies, people with sensitive skin and/or aged people.
You as an end user of cosmetics must also be deliberate about reading the ingredient list in whatever product that you purchase.
The list of preservatives is not exhaustive. Some common names of preservative that you may find in the ingredient list of your cosmetics include
- Benzyl alcohol
- Benzalkonium chloride
- Benzylate, benzoic acid, and benzyl ester.
- BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole))
- Bronopol (2-Bromo-2-Nitropropane-1,3-DIOL)
- Citric acid
- Dehydroacetic acid
- Diazolidinyl Urea
- DMDM Hydantoin
- Grapefruit seed extract
- Imidazolidinyl Urea
- Lactic acid
- Levulinic acid
- Methylisothiazolinone (MIT)
- Neolone 950
- Parabens (Propylparaben, methyparaben, butylparaben, isobutylparaben, isopropylparaben, Ethylparaben)
- Polyoxymethylene urea
- Potassium sorbate
- Sodium dehydroacetate
- Sodium hydroxymethylglycinate
- Sodium metabisulfite
- Sodium salicylate
- Sorbic acid,
- Triclocarban (TCC).
- Zinc pyrithione.