Preservatives in natural cosmetics: essential or prohibitive?

Preservatives in natural cosmetics: essential or prohibitive?

The days when the compositions of cosmetic products were a mystery are far behind us. Today, it is essential that everything is understandable, but also that everything can be explained down to the smallest detail. The compositions of aesthetic products are closely regulated by French laws and European regulations. And for good reason: natural cosmetic products are increasingly on the rise.

Beauty institutes, spas and even customers are closely interested in the composition of organic cosmetics, to have an idea of ​​what is applied to the body and face.

But among the components that are frequently (or even all the time) found in cosmetics are preservatives .

Are they ingredients to avoid?

Or on the contrary, guarantees of quality from your cosmetic supplier?

Green Spa helps you understand the situation by taking stock of preservatives.

Everything you need to know about preservatives in organic cosmetics

Just like alcohols and solvents, preservatives are components that are always found on cosmetic labels , especially those offered for sale in institutes.

And for good reason: these components aim to ensure the preservation of cosmetics , in the best conditions. No risk of contamination or that the product will turn: the creams , scrubs and massage oils are perfectly preserved.

What is a preservative?

Concretely, the preservative aims to prevent the development of microorganisms such as bacteria and fungi in cosmetics. Quite simply because between the moment it is put into a bottle and the moment it is used by end customers, several months can pass.

It is therefore essential to plan for the durability and reliability of aesthetic products , as well as the longevity of their benefits for the skin . Whether through a change in texture, color or smell, the preservative ensures that the cosmetic remains in perfect condition over the weeks.

French law requires that any cosmetic offered for sale on the market be capable of protecting itself from external bacterial contamination . And this data is also verified in laboratories before marketing cosmetics , by what is called the challenge test.

This test challenge amounts to voluntarily contaminating a cosmetic, to see its reaction to the presence of bacteria . If he gets rid of it, the product has passed the test. If it is contaminated, it cannot be offered for sale.

The usefulness of preservatives is therefore proven. So why are they at the center of scandals?

Why are cosmetic preservatives controversial?

More and more customers are looking for reliable , natural and organic cosmetic products . Whether out of consideration for the planet or for what we apply to our skin , we are becoming more and more interested in natural cosmetics.

This has led to numerous changes in mentalities , particularly towards sometimes industrial components such as preservatives . The latter are then at the heart of debates, because they can be allergenic or irritating, especially for the skin of the face which is thinner and sensitive than the skin of the body.

These irritations are explained by the fact that preservatives fight against bacteria and micro-organisms. However, the surface of our skin has a certain microbial flora necessary for health. The preservative, incorrectly dosed or incorrectly used, can therefore lead to an involuntary fight against these natural micro-organisms.

However, awareness of the possible dangerousness of conservatives has given rise to particular attention. Today, suppliers are careful not to over/misuse preservatives in cosmetics .

What is the difference between listed and unlisted cosmetics?

You will often find this distinction on the suppliers' website , or even sometimes on the labels of cosmetic products. This is a dichotomy that we owe to the European Cosmetic Regulation .

This regulation 1223/2009 imposes all European regulations on cosmetics offered for sale . And it is he who establishes the difference between:

  • A listed preservative , which is part of the list of authorized preservatives

An unlisted curator , who is not part of it

What preservatives are authorized in organic cosmetics?

The field of organic cosmetics is broader, and includes preservatives which can then be used in the sale of natural cosmetics.

In this list authorized by the organic specifications, we find nature-identical preservatives . Which means that they exist in nature, even if they had to be reconstituted because we cannot extract sufficient quantities of them.

Out of a total of 59 preservatives , only 5 are authorized in the field of natural and organic cosmetics:

  • Benzoic acid
  • Citric acid
  • Benzyl alcohol
  • Salicylic acid
  • Sorbic acid
  • Dehydroacetic acid

These are the ones that you can then find on the labels of organic cosmetic products , because they are considered natural enough to be used in an organic setting.

Which preservatives should be avoided at all costs?

Apart from the preservatives that you can find in organic cosmetics , there is also a list of industrial preservatives that should be avoided at all costs.

They can be dangerous for your health, and even counter the benefits of certain cosmetics. Here is the list to avoid:

  • Nitrites
  • Parabens
  • Formaldehyde
  • The BHQT
  • The abbreviated formats E237 and E238
  • formic acid
  • Diphenyl
  • Orthophenylphenol

Can we find cosmetics without preservatives?

You can definitely look into looking for cosmetics that do not contain preservatives . Even though they are rare, it is a possibility.

Often, these are brands specializing in “preservative-free”, which therefore offer suitable cosmetic products , particularly from the point of view of their packaging .

Indeed, to be able to be sold, cosmetic products must be able to fight bacterial infections . There are then two packaging possibilities so that the product does not come into contact with the ambient air:

  • The Airless Pack
  • Sterilization , coupled with suitable packaging which remains sterile during use by the end customer

These are two alternatives which are generally quite expensive, which explains their rarity on the cosmetics market.

Preservatives in the natural cosmetic world: a good or bad thing?

Today, the world of cosmetics is governed by respect for the skin and the planet. It is preferable to favor natural and organic ingredients , in order to avoid any risk of irritation or dryness . But alongside this awareness, there are certain ingredients that we cannot do without, whether in the organic sector or not. Among these ingredients, we find in particular preservatives . They can be present in different forms, in natural form or not, to be avoided or on the contrary favored... These are ingredients which often raise questions. If you need information on the composition of cosmetic products, do not hesitate to ask your organic product supplier! He will be able to provide all the answers to your questions. And not just on conservatives . Why not ask yourself about all the other components of natural products?