There’s been a lot of buzz going around about the use of preservatives in our skin care and beauty products. People can’t seem to come to an agreement as to whether or not preservatives are useful or harmful. While some people are riding the fence with their opinions, many have very strong opinions about whether or not preservatives have a place on our vanity and in our shower.
Let’s take a look at the use of preservatives in the cosmetics industry and see if we can debunk some of the myths.
Why Do Most Skin Care Products Need Preservatives?
Preservatives aren’t always bad, and they’re not always harmful. Preservatives are natural or synthetic ingredients that are added to products to prevent spoilage that could be the result of fungal, mold, or bacterial growth, or undesirable chemical changes that could ruin the product efficacy.
The fact of the matter is that most cosmetics contain water. Wherever there’s water, there’s the danger of mold and bacterial growth. “Preservatives extend a product’s shelf life and stop fungus, mold, yeast, bacteria, and other microbes from growing in cosmetics – especially in humid environments like the bathroom,” explains Bella Schneider, an esthetic scientist and product formulator.
It sounds like a Catch 22, doesn’t it? If facial care products aren’t preserved, they’ll be overrun by harmful bacteria that could give you an infection, or they could break down to a black blob and not be effective any longer. None of that is necessarily desirable. Yet not all chemical preservatives are good for you. So what do you do?!
Not All Chemical Preservatives Are Bad
There are effective preservatives out there that are not harmful chemicals. Chemical preservatives typically work in smaller quantities and do not have the heavy smells and textures that many natural preservatives do. They also wind up being inexpensive and efficient in preventing contamination, making it possible for you to store your products outside of the refrigerator for long periods of time.
Are Natural Preservatives the Answer?
People want to be reassured by things natural and organic. Natural preservatives like vitamin E, glycerin, organic acids, essential oils, and phenethyl alcohol can definitely be effective, but they have to be utilized within very strict parameters. In order to be effective they have to be incorporated in large quantities (upwards of 30% of the product). “Additionally, they can contain a lot of smell or create allergies in clients, they are not cost effective, and they alter the glide, feel and fragrance of the product,” Schneider explained. “They can also increase the cost of production and sale. In general, they are much less practical for both the manufacturer and consumer than synthetic preservatives.”
Still, there are products out there utilizing natural preservatives that are worth taking a look at.
What Preservatives Should You Watch Out For?
Typically the amount of chemical preservatives in cosmetics is minimal. “If the product is ingested or used around areas where it could be ingested – such as the lips, mouth, or underarms, it could be more toxic,” warns Schneider. “Also, prolonged use of certain chemicals can cause adverse reactions, such as rashes or sensitivity, or more long-term health problems, such as cancer.”
There are certain chemicals raising concern. They may remain in the blood after cosmetic use, metabolized, and potentially cause harm. It’s best to avoid anything that includes:
- Phenolic acid (phenol): These can cause respiratory issues, coma, fainting, and paralysis.
- Petroleum-based compounds (including propylene glycol, polyethylene glycols, or polyoxyethylene): They could be contaminated with a chemical that can cause cancer, according to the FDA.
- Phthalates: “These can be absorbed through the skin and accumulated in the body and may promote breast cancer, asthma, ADHD, obesity and diabetes, neurodevelopmental issues, autism spectrum disorders, altered reproductive development, and fertility issues,” says Schneider.
- Formaldehyde: Formaldehyde, in all its many forms, is a carcinogen. “It can also harm the brain, development in children, and cause allergies, irritation, and asthma,” says Schneider.
- Parabens: Parabens have been identified as estrogenic and disruptive of normal hormone function.
DELTA-5 by Sciaessentials is a new and unique fatty acid (building block of proteins) made from pine seeds that has a tremendous effect on reducing inflammation in the skin. It’s one of those ever-versatile products that can be applied by itself, layered into your normal skin care routine, or mixed with your typical skin care favorites like your CC cream or foundation.
Its beauty is in its simplicity. DELTA-5 has been created utilizing only the powerfully-effective DELTA-5 Sciadonic Acid and tocopherols, boosting both the delivery and preservative processes. Tocopherols are a class of organic chemical compounds that have vitamin E activity. There are several forms, but they’re all collectively and simply referred to as “vitamin E,” and possess antioxidant capabilities, staving off the oxidation process that can plague oil-based products. The 12 month shelf-life can be prolonged even further by storing the smooth oil in its amber bottle in the fridge.