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Are Preservatives Bad for Skincare?

With the world of Organic Beauty & Clean Beauty evolving, some trends are there for good reason and others are ALL FLUFF & HYPE. So where does preservatives stand in this spectrum of trends?


I wanted to start from the basics before we get too technical. 


What are preservatives?

The definition of preservative is a substance used to preserve foodstuffs, wood, or other materials against decay. Preservatives are designed to kill fungus, bacteria and mold. While there are safer preservatives than others, it’s also important that regardless of what preservative is used, that only the safe, required amount of preservative is used to ensure the integrity of the product. 

Fun Fact

Contrary to popular belief, for natural preservatives to be effective in skincare formulations, they must be used in higher amounts -- as much as 10%. This is not ideal as 10% can cause a great deal of skin sensitivity and irritation. Natural preservatives are not the most ideal because of this fact.

It’s important to use natural ingredients in combination with preservatives to ensure the product does not become rancid, meaning beginning to grow bacteria as a result of misformulation.  

When is it necessary to use preservatives? 

Any product that contains a water based ingredient. For example, toners are water based products as they are 100% liquid. For that reason, toners should always include a preservative. Anytime a formula contains water based ingredients, look for ingredients in the ingredients list. If there aren’t any, the product should be used for 2 - 3 days from the time it was first made otherwise you run the risk of facing an infection. 


Consumers are more powerful than ever before because we have the power to verify information in seconds. More than ever the United States does not act responsibly in the ingredients that are allowed to be used in the cosmetics industry. By sharing this information with you, I hope you will be more empowered as consumers and shop for skincare strategically.


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