Natural Preservatives. Which ones we use and why.

In our desperate efforts to live a more holistic, natural, whole foods kind of life, the idea of preservatives has become questionable and more often than not they are something that most of us are trying to avoid at all costs.

Understandably, preservatives in our food are not necessary for the most part. When you eat from the earth, there is no need to preserve. Ideally, food should be collected locally and consumed shortly after so unless dried or frozen. There is no need for it to last a substantial amount of time. I mean, there would be something very suspicious and off-putting about an apple lasted two years.

Skincare, on the other hand, requires preservatives. When skincare is produced, natural, organic or synthetic, there is an expectation that unlike an apple, it won't go bad after a week of sitting on your shelves. Additionally, if skincare didn't contain preservatives, there would be a risk of the formation of mould, bacteria or fungus, which not only is this not what we want to be putting on our face, it is also dangerous to our health.

Just like most ingredients, there are natural options, and there are chemicals. Below are a list of commonly used preservatives that for health reasons should always be avoided.

  • Propylparaben, methylparaben, butylparaben, ethylparaben, isobutyl paraben.
  • Bronopol (2-Bromo-2-Nitropropane-1,3-DIOL)
  • DMDM Hydantoin
  • BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole))
  • Triclosan
  • Methylisothiazolinone (MIT)
  • Midazolidinyl Urea
  • Diazolidinyl Urea
  • Quaternium-15

Because a product contains preservatives does not mean it is not natural or organic. There is a range of safe and natural alternatives that manufacturers can use. The following are those that Organic Formulations have chosen due to their nature and suitability in our products.

Potassium sorbate is a white to slightly yellow crystalline powder and is the potassium salt of sorbic acid. When ingested, potassium sorbate metabolises into a harmless salt which the body removed easily. It is commonly used as a safe food grade preservative, however, can be found in skincare also. It is not toxic nor does it have any mutagenic properties, unlike other preservatives.
Many of Organic Formulations ACO (Australian Certified Organic) products contain potassium sorbate as it has been confirmed safe and natural by this governing body.

Glyceryl Caprylate is made through the esterification of glycerin from vegetable oils and medium chain fatty acids from sources such as coconut oil. Glyceryl Caprylate has outstanding efficacy against bacteria and yeast, therefore, makes an excellent natural and safe preservative for skin care products.

Just a warning, this one can get quite confusing. Parfum, not to be confused with the French Eau de Parfum (although they translate the same, Parfum is an ingredient, not a mix of essential oils that are supposed to make you smell good) is a natural preservative that can also be known as Naticide. This preservative is a vegetable extract with the aroma of vanilla and almonds and used for its activity against bacteria, moulds and yeast.
Although Organic Formulations does not label our products as preservative free as we have committed to transparency for our consumers, it is common for manufacturers to do so and use Parfum as a preservative. Parfum (Naticide) could also be listed in the ingredients as 'fragrance', and although in this case, this is still a safe and natural ingredient, the product would not technically be preservative free. 

If any doubts, the best way to ensure you know exactly what is in your products always read the ingredients label and if you require further clarification contact the manufacturer directly.

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+61 (03) 5428 6005

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