Preservatives - Necessary in Natural Products?
What is Phenoxyethanol anyways?
We occasional hear from our customers concerned about preservatives and ask why we (a company that promotes organic & all natural ingredients) would use preservatives in any products?
When a personal care product is made with water (and botanicals like aloe) they provide a medium for harmful bacteria, mold, yeast and fungi to grow over time. Even if the product looks just fine, it may be swarming with bacteria. If used, a contaminated product could cause severe health problems. Effective preservatives are vital for ensuring safety. This applies to food and cosmetics! We grew up preserving food and depending on whether we made jam, pickles, salsa, or pickled meat, there was a scientific approach that determined the ingredients and the process.
Many of the ingredients used in our products are food based. We know when you open our lotion, you won't be storing it in the refrigerator so this means we need to use a different process. We use phenoxyethanol in a low concentration as a preservative in our lotions and shave creams. Many commercial manufacturer’s formulas include parabens and formaldehyde-releasing preservatives. Both are classes of chemicals with demonstrable evidence of potential health risks, whereas phenoxyethanol is considered very safe at low levels. It’s been tested on the skin and eyes and it is non-irritating and non-sensitizing at levels of 2.2% or lower while being effective at only 1% concentrations. The European Union and Japan both approve its use up to that 1% level and our formulas fall well below the recommendation (depending on the specific product). Most of the studies that have found significant negative health impacts are based on full-strength or high-dose exposures.
It’s included in the Handbook of Green Chemicals and is also Whole Foods Premium Body Care approved. And, their standards, developed by a team of scientists over the course of years, are some of the strictest available.
There are many natural ingredients that are dangerous at full strength. Essential oils are bottled in glass because they would melt a plastic container when used in high concentrations. Many foods contain natural preservatives that when used at high concentrations would be dangerous. If a study came out that said salt can be dangerous at 100% concentration, does that mean no one would use salt in baking? No, we would use common sense.
While this preservative maybe the “safest” alternative, it actually took us several years to have lotions in our product line because of the need to use a preservative. After lots and lots of requests for a lotion and a ton of research, we decided that this was the best alternative for our formulations requiring a preservative. With that said, we respect personal views. You will find that most of our products don’t contain this ingredient. Our Body Butters are fantastic alternatives to Lotion and our Shave Soaps are fantastic alternatives to Shave Creams.