Sunday, June 21, 2015

What You Can't See

If you use any commercially-available cosmetic or personal care product - and you're in the VAST minority if you don't, you might want to read this post. Cosmetic preservatives are not a "nice to have", they're a must. Toxins be toxic, peeps, and the only way to keep them out of hydrous (water-containing) products is by preserving those products. (Note: those oil-based products can be as natural as natural gets - that's why I love them so and sell them!!)

There are no proven, all-natural preservatives on the market at this time. That's not to say that there are no natural options or that they definitively don't work, but they're not well-studied (potentially cuz there's no profit in it for the Man, I realize). FYI, the leucidal preservatives (relative market newbies that are made from plants and are on the more natural end of the spectrum) have a pretty bad rep and you need to use them in very high concentrations, by comparison with the synthetic versions.

What I didn't realize till recently is that many commercial "natural" brands hide their preservatives in the ingredients list under the INCI nomenclature "Fragrance" (which is a preservative containing product).

You often can't see or smell mold and yeast and fungus and gram negative bacteria in a hydrous product until they're rampant (and sometimes not at all). But put a sample under a microscope and it's a horror show!

I'm not going to suggest that test-tube cosmetic preservatives are something you'd want to eat. I'm certainly advocating that they be used in the recommended volume (which is always a very small amount). I stay away from the ones that seem unnecessarily evil (those containing parabens), though I'm not a scientist - so I read and make my determinations at a layperson level. It is possible that Big Cosmetic Pharma is fucking us over. But it's absolutely certain that nature will, if we use an unpreserved hydrous product more than 3 days after it's made.


  1. You have to do what you have to do - selling water-based beauty products without preservatives would be reckless. Preservatives that are plant-based, 'natural', or 'organic' are not necessarily non-toxic or harmless. (Sulfuric acid and plutonium are organic and natural.) Similarly lab-created preservatives are not all evil.

    You're doing a good job researching your formulas and I've no doubt you'll choose the type and amount of preservative that work best with your philosophy.

  2. Thanks Diane. It's so true that that not using the preservatives is reckless. It's an irony that learning how to make natural skin care has given me an increased (and more educated) perspective on germicides.