When you cannot do without preservatives. 

Hey people,

So in the spirit of naturalness (is that even a word?), some people are opposed to including preservatives in their formulations. I am all for the good cause, swear down, and will definitely not include it in formulations that do not require any preservation i. e. Anhydrous products.

With that said, for all formulations that incorporate water and other hydrophilic ingredients, preservation is a must! Even if there is the slightest chance that water could touch it – and this includes that oil based scrub sitting at the edge of your tub… yes the one you just put your wet fingers into!

Unpreserved formulation. Ewww.

If you include plant extracts in your formulation, you most definitely need a preservative system that will deter aerobic and anaerobic microbes from making a home of your wonderful creation as these active skin foods also double as nutrients for these invisible demons.

Yes! You still need preservation, even though you just disinfected all your equipment, packaging, and followed all the rules of GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) to the very last letter. The truth is that these seemingly absent organisms are very present, proliferate at alarming rates, and only need the littlest chance e. g. a small bruise, to make their way into your bloodstream and become virulent.

You definitely have to have some preservative(s)  in your product if it’ll be opened multiple times, increasing the chances of microbial contamination. You most certainly need to use preserved products especially when they are packaged in jars,  in which we have to put our hands when we want to help our selves to some of the product.

Now there are some naturally derived preservatives available through select retailers (thankfully). These have been processed and altered through green chemistry techniques and methodology in order to arrive at their final state. But not-so-thankfully, they are usually not broad spectrum in activity (selective to one kind of microbe like fungi or bacteria, gram negative or gram positive bacteria, but not all), therefore they have to be used in combination for full spectrum preservation. They can also have shorter half-life, forcing natural cosmetics manufacturers to only work with smaller batches when compared to the big guns that produce very large batches that sit in warehouses for a very long time before they reach store shelves. These must depend on parabens and formaldehyde releasing compounds in their formulations to achieve long lasting antimicrobial preservation. In my opinion, if we are going to stick with, we should endeavor to use up our naturally preserved cosmetics within 6 months because of this. 

In Nigeria, these naturally derived preservatives are quite expensive and rare to come by, so some formulators may end up having to adopt synthetic preservative systems in their formulations (maybe one of the ethical or slightly safer ones). I cannot criticize them for this choice because I would take synthetic preservation over inadequate or non-existent preservation. For now, I use a naturally derived preservative called ‘Optiphen plus’  which was imported. I think it is currently available in the Natural Nigerian ahia. Tidesmark also sells ‘Sorbic acid’ but I need to confirm that and post the links for you my lovely readers.

But before then, let me know your thoughts.

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5 thoughts on “When you cannot do without preservatives. 

  1. Jane

    I use Optiphen too, but its soo expensive to get. Most Nigerian suppliers sell synthetic preservatives. The supply chain struggle for some select ingredients is real!

    Like

  2. One major challenge faced by natural formulators in this country is “lack of availability of natural ingredients”.(natural solubilizers, chelators, Emulsifiers e.t.c) . The current exchange rate isn’t helping issues either. I use optiphen plus but when working with ingredients that are not compatible with it, I use Liquid germall plus. Until we get to have many options as regards getting ‘natural ingredients’ here in Nigeria, I’ll rather use a “synthetic” preservative than risk having contaminated products due to inadequate preservation.

    Liked by 1 person

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