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Preservatives and Natural Products

Leria Beverly

Hello again! Today's topic is concerning preservatives and natural products. I was interested in pursuing this topic because there is a lot of misleading information on the web pertaining to preservatives. Now, a lot of this stuff is common sense; however, some people are easily swayed by everything they are told, or should I say, sold! There are some brands out there who make the claim "preservative free" as if it is a good thing. So let us get into it! What are preservatives?

A preservative is a substance or chemical that is added to products to prevent microbial growth and decomposition. Virtually everything we use that is perishable has a preservative or two, including foods, paints, cosmetics, personal care products, beverages, etc. Imagine getting ready to put on lipstick or face cream and you see mold spores growing in it. Yuck right! Still, there are a few companies who are riding this preservative free wave in order to attract consumers. This is usually a dishonest claim unless all of their products contain no water. 

Now, make no mistake, all products do not require a preservative. The ones who do are mostly water based or food based products. Almost all oil based products are fine being preservative-free. However, most personal care products are not fine with this claim. Bacteria, mold, yeast, mildew, and other pathogens love natural ingredients just like we do! Water added to these natural ingredients, creates the perfect environment for growth. When buying natural and organic products, it is important to make sure it has a preservative. Otherwise, you will be slathering yourself in dangerous microorganisms. 

Not all preservatives are good. We have heard about the hidden horrors of paraben and formaldehyde-containing preservatives. There are a ton of different kinds of preservatives that can be used that do not fall under these categories. In addition to that, the amount of recommended use is so small that they have no effect on consumers. Some simple quick education about preservatives can help you pick the right products for you. There is also a misconception about "natural preservatives". There is no natural preservative that works extremely well. Rosemary Extract, Lavender Essential Oil, etc. are all fine if you are making a product for yourself that will only last a couple of days. But, those do not hold or sustain personal care products long-term from going bad. Using these can guarantee you spoilage before the week is finished.

All in all, you want your personal care products to have some kind of preservative. Preservatives are not the big bad wolf in personal care products. They are helping you to avoid getting sick from a bad batch of something. The role of preservatives in food may differ for some, but with personal care items: they are essential! 

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