All the latest natural skin care, anti-aging and healthy lifestyle tips from Marie Veronique Organics.
Preservatives and the Importance of Disclosure
Since the number one contaminant in any product is water it follows that skin care formulators must pay special attention to preservation issues associated with products containing water, ie, cleansers, mists, creams, lotions and the like. Indeed, the problems in conjunction with devising and implementing effective preservation systems are among most complex formulators encounter.
Bacterial growth is an ever-present danger and not to be taken lightly. Just one example is the common bacterium known as psuedomonas aeruginosa (PA). PA thrives in warm water and can cause an all-over body rash, which may include blisters and sometimes looks like chicken pox. The bacterium also targets eyes ears, nose, and throat, causing irritations or infections. Untreated pseudomonas infections can lead to blindness.
Those of us who develop natural and organic products are always searching for the ideal preservative system. Such a system would, in addition to inhibiting/killing bacterial and mold growth, be non-irritating, non-sensitizing, non-toxic and compatible with other ingredients. This is a tall order indeed, and because available solutions fall short of the ideal we are forced to make compromises. Unfortunately some companies elect to compromise on full disclosure rather than on ingredient choice.
Parabens in disguise, the citrus seed extract trick.
Methyl butyl and propyl parabens have a long history of use, but they are gradually being phased out by many companies thanks to studies that suggest they mimic estrogen, and may contribute to rising breast cancer rates. Aside from the possible toxicity issue propylparaben is often used in concentrations of up to 25%, and as it is a known allergen, particularly in high concentrations, it falls short of the ideal on non-sensitizing grounds alone.
Replacing parabens with grapefruit seed extract and other forms of a citrus seed/pulp extract broad-spectrum preservative has been the solution adopted by some companies with a more “natural” focus. Unfortunately there are many forms of citrus seed extracts on the market, some of which show both questionable effectiveness and questionable contents. For instance, some manufacturers of citrus seed extracts add paraben-based preservatives to the extract itself, a practice that has generated a great deal of controversy regarding citricidal preservatives. Citrus seed extracts are not approved for cosmetic use in Europe and in Japan. And just by the way, citrus seed extracts are not “all-natural preservatives.” They are chemically derived from the seeds of citrus fruits. If you are using a product said to be preserved with GFSE, you should ask your supplier if it contains any other preservatives.
Anti-oxidants are not interchangeable with preservatives.
Because anti-oxidants like rosemary oleoresin and Vitamin E inhibit oxidation of oils they are excellent for protecting them from going rancid and prolonging shelf life. Anti-oxidants like Vitamin C, E and beta-carotene, among many others, also protect skin cells from the damaging effects of free radical formation, and are important components of effective anti-aging products. However, anti-oxidants have no effect on fungi, bacteria, yeast and other living things that may contaminate water-based products.
The use of anti-oxidants alone is not sufficient protection against bacterial/fungal growth in a product containing water.
Non-inclusion is not safe, and non-disclosure is not responsible. The sad truth is that some companies choose to use preservatives which they then choose not to list. Other companies are just not using preservatives. Which is worse? Definitely the latter.
Marie Veronique Nadeau founded Marie Veronique Organics over 10 years ago and is a nationally recognized formulator and beauty expert. She collaborates with her daughter, Jay Nadeau, physicist and bio-medical engineer, to carefully choose each ingredient in her products to address the causes of aging at the source. Marie holds a BS in Math and Chemistry as well as an esthetics license from Paris Beauty College. She is a mother of 2 and a grandmother of one. When she is not developing cutting edge anti-aging products, she can be found reading at her local library or foraging for mushrooms with her granddaughter.
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