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More Beauty Products Seeking Alternative Preservative Systems

Posted: May 7, 2012

New alternative preservation systems for cosmetic products are gaining popularity. In its new Technical Insights report, Paraben-Free Preservative Systems for Cosmetics, Organic Monitor finds the move to new alternative preservative systems is driven by high consumer demand for natural and organic cosmetics as well as the growing trend of formulators avoiding parabens. Parabens are the most widely used preservatives, present in thousands of personal care products that include moisturizers, shampoos, toothpastes, lubricants, and gels. However, a growing number of formulators are avoiding them because of possible safety concerns.

Although not scientifically proven, parabens are thought to mimic oestrogen and have been associated with breast cancer. The French and Danish governments are considering a ban on parabens in cosmetic products because of these possible links. Concerns over a possible ban are leading cosmetic companies to develop paraben-free formulations.

Natural and organic cosmetic products do not use conventional preservatives, such as parabens and phenoxyethanol. Natural and organic products have traditionally used natural preservatives like grapefruit seed extract, however new materials and technologies are gaining acceptance.

According to Judi Beerling at Organic Monitor, “Many companies are using preservative systems that comprise multifunctional natural ingredients”. By using such ‘synergistic blends’, the material has antimicrobial properties whilst not having to be registered as a preservative with the respective authorities. Examples of such preservative systems include blended botanical extracts and spice extracts.

Another development is self-preservation techniques, with some methods originating from the food industry. Hurdle technology involves creating hurdles to block growth of microorganisms in cosmetic formulations; for instance, using materials that reduce the pH of the formulation. Some companies are adding emollients with membrane disrupting properties in cosmetic formulations, while others are boosting natural preservative systems by the use of chelating agents or a glycol alternative.