I am part of a Facebook group of female founders in beauty where someone asked the group to provide inputs on preservatives in cosmetics. Below is what I sent. Please note that there is a lot of misinformation around the use of preservatives. It is true that Saroya as a brand attempts to minimize products that have water and thereby remove the need of preservatives. But that choice is driven by many reasons beyond the need for preservatives.
Why are preservatives important in cosmetics?
Preservatives are important in cosmetics for pretty much the same reasons they are important in other products, including food. They extend the shelf life of the product by inhibiting the growth of bacteria, mold, fungus, and yeast. Typically all cosmetic products that contain water need a preservative to have a shelf life that extends beyond a few days.
What preservative(s) do you use in your products? Why?
- My brand focuses on waterless formulations so I do not use preservatives in a lot of my products. For the few products that do contain water like creams and lotions, I use a preservative combination of gluconolactone and phenoxyehanol. Phenoxyethanol is a very easy to use preservative in that it does not impact the stability of cosmetic formulations. It is also effective. However, it is a skin irritant and I am personally allergic to phenoxyethanol. This particular combination works for me as I am able to reduce the concentration of phenoxyethanol to a point where it does not cause a reaction while being effective in doing the job of extending the shelf life.
What is your opinion on parabens?
I believe parabens have got a bad rap not necessarily backed by science. I personally have never used parabens but as a scientist I believe that a lot of things said about them are taken out of context or are not backed by facts. Some of the reasons that people believe parabens are bad are:
a) They are endocrine disruptors. Yes, but so are many other things that contain phytoestrogens, including a lot of foods like soy.
b) They cause cancer - this is really not backed by facts. The reason people believe parabens cause cancer is because there was a paper published that found parabens in breast cancer cells. Somehow this came to mean that parabens was the cause of the cancer.
Do you use natural preservatives?
Vegetable glycerin is not regarded as a preservative but it can enhance shelf life by binding to water. In that sense, yes, I do use naturally available ingredients as preservatives.