Preservatives are unavoidable in present life: from your bottle of moisturiser to that jar of mayonnaise and even your body soap, it is a necessity in keeping items fresh and yet, it has a bad rep and naysayers vehemently reject the idea of preservatives. Just imagine - you spend an hour putting your makeup on and finish it with a setting spray to keep your hard work on all day; similarly, good preservatives kill mold, yeast and bacteria to keep your products safe for prolonged usage.
This lends it a higher ‘hazard’ profile than other ingredients in skin care products. While some preservatives are bad for the skin, choosing the correct skin care products will not only improve your skin, but ensure the integrity and longevity of your product so that your skin remains fresh and healthy.
Here are 6 facts and myths we want to discuss today regarding preservatives so that end consumers understand preservatives better and help us understand what constitutes good skin care.
Fact: Skin Care Products NEED Preservatives
Most skin care products contain some form of water as an ingredient: and water breeds life. Within a few weeks, mold, yeast and bacteria will grow and contaminate your skin care products without preservatives. This is a true health threat: at its mildest, your skin react negatively and form rashes or redness; at its worse, the bacteria can penetrate your skin and cause painful infections and inflammations.
This is worsened by daily usage of the product: when you dip your finger into the product, or apply it directly onto your skin, eye, lips or other body parts, bacteria can get onto the product and quicken the contamination process. In general, all products should contain preservatives to keep it safe for prolonged usage - even if it is a anhydrous product (this means that the product does not contain water). Some examples include mascara, and lipsticks.
Unless the company recommends keeping the product in the fridge, or to use it within a short time frame and does not contain water, it is likely there is some form of preservative. Otherwise, this product is definitely not safe for use and you should be careful!
MYTH: All Preservatives Are The Same
Not all preservatives were made equal.
Different skin care products will require different concentrations and types of preservatives to keep it safe. For example, eye creams will require preservatives that is more rounded to protect the skin around the eye, as well as the eyelid. This is because the eye area is more delicate and will require more care.
Some all-natural cosmetics use ingredients such as Vitamin C, Vitamin E, antioxidants and Honey in place of preservatives. While these ingredients are commonly used in skin care and have high efficacy in treating different skin issues, they are not effective against bacteria and other microbes from contaminating your cosmetics.
FACT: Not All Preservatives are Man-made and Bad
It is true - some preservatives are more harmful than others - this means that they have been linked to health problems in research studies. However, alternatives have been found to kill nasty micro-organisms while remaining safer for usage in low concentrations.
Companies typically use a combination of preservatives to achieve a balance of safety - both in terms of product integrity and daily usage. Here are some preservatives that are considered safer:
Phenoxyethanol: an ether used as a fragrance or preservative that is considered non-toxic when ingested and non-irritating when diluted.
Propylene Glycol: A compound with proven microbial properties to protect against unwanted microorganisms
Sodium Benzoate: a food and cosmetics preservative that has the Generally Recognised as Safe (GRAS) status as recognised by the FDA
Rosemary Oil: an essential oil commonly used to preserve the product while giving it a soothing fragrance
Of course, there are countless preservatives that are effective and safe for public health. Good skin care will treat your skin right.
MYTH: Antioxidants are Preservatives
Antioxidants are a fan favourite in skin care for protecting the skin against free radical damage. However, they are not preservatives. Don’t let all-natural labels tell you otherwise.
When cosmetics are exposed to oxygen - which is every step of the way from manufacturing to packaging and usage, they can and will get contaminated. The idea behind antioxidants as preservatives is that antioxidants protect against oxidation - however, while they do protect against free radical damage, they cannot protect against bacteria formation.
FACT: “Preservative-free” DOES NOT mean preservative-free.
There is no directive on what determines a skin care company to be ‘natural’, ‘organic’ or ‘botanical’. More often than not, these are marketing terms used to sound reassuring to customers. There can be many ways a company claims to be ‘natural’: they claim their ingredients come from organic farms and that no chemicals were used, or that no preservatives were used, or that only plants are used in their products.
However, it is often difficult to justify these claims - and having no preservatives only mean that their products must use some other way to keep their shelf life.
FACT: Skin Care Technology is Constantly Improving and Evolving
Technology and research is constantly evolving - companies are always looking for ways to create improve preservative options for skin care and cosmetics. The journey for safe skin care is about progress, not perfection.
Context is essential when discussing ingredient safety: there needs to be a fine balance and understanding of how some ingredients, while not ideal on is own, can be balanced by other ingredients to create an effective product. If you want to avoid preservatives all together in your skin care routine: try DIY skin care recipes that will require you to keep the product refrigerated.
Using a good skin care product is your first step to protecting your skin. And we don’t just mean a reputable brand: we mean a skin care brand that truly loves the skin and does its research to put the best product they can create out in the market.
We absolutely love Maria Galland’s products: having been to their laboratory and office in France, it is evident they take skin care seriously. They source for the best ingredients around the world to create a product that is effective and luxurious so that the end-consumer enjoy every step of their skin care routine. Your skin care routine is to be enjoyed, and not to be hastily piled on just because you have to.