Four things you need to know about preservatives in skincare
July 08, 2021
Skincare is a breeding ground for fungi and bacteria. Many skincare products consist largely of water, and that's where bacteria and fungi thrive. Many skincare products are also stored in a damp bathroom and bacteria can spread when you remove a lick of cream from a jar with your fingers. To keep your skincare fresh, preservatives are key. But are these ingredients really necessary? And are preservatives good or bad? In this article we look at four things you didn't know about preservatives in skincare.
1. Preservatives in skincare are necessary We can be brief: we don't want bacteria and fungi in our skincare products. If you want your skincare to last and keep bacteria at bay, preservatives are simply necessary. Preservatives are a necessity, especially with jarred skincare products. The more you put your fingers in a moisturizer, the more bacteria will be present. Is your product made of oil? Then you don't need a preservative. Bacteria and fungi don't grow well in oil.
2. Antioxidants are not preservatives Stay away from "preservative-free" skincare or natural brands that use "natural preservatives" or antioxidants as preservatives. An antioxidant is not a preservative. Yes, it prevents oxidation, but it does nothing against bacteria and fungi. Vitamin E and vitamin C are often indicated on bottles as natural preservatives, but nothing is less true.
3. Not all preservatives are a good choice Examples of preservatives that have become controversial are methylparaben and ethylparaben. They are very effective against fungi and some bacteria, but research has also shown that they can cause hormonal imbalance. This form of paraben can have an estrogen-like effect, which would put breast cancer at risk. However, this has never been proven. Another preservative that has been linked to cancer is formaldehyde. In Japan and Sweden this preservative has even been banned. Preservatives can also cause allergic reactions. Methyl isothiazoline is an example of such a substance. In many countries this preservative can only be used in products that you wash off immediately, to limit allergies.
4. There are plenty of safe preservatives It is unfair that preservatives are under fire. Not only do you need them to keep skincare looking good, but there are plenty of safe preservatives that won't harm your skin or your health. Examples of safe preservatives include phenoxyethanol, benzoic acid, sorbic acid, levulinic acid and benzyl alcohol. Phenoxyethanol is often combined with organic acids (sorbic, benzoic) because it is good against bacteria but less good against fungi. The opposite is true for the acids. Benzyl alcohol is also often combined with organic acids, because only a small amount of benzyl alcohol is not effective against fungi.
Almond oil, argan oil, jojoba oil, tea tree oil... when it comes to types of oils, there is quite a bit to choose from in skincareland. But not all vegetable oils are the same. Which oil should you choose for which skin type and skin need? We list a few popular vegetable oils!
While a full, rich moisturiser is best in winter, it can be lighter and more fluffy in summer. Here are some tips & tricks on how to keep your skin well hydrated and cool all summer long, avoid a shiny head and stay on top of your melting make-up.
Dermatologists and other skin experts agree: niacinamide is a great skincare ingredient. Niacinamide (also known as vitamin B3) works wonders on redness and conditions such as rosacea, it hydrates the skin and controls sebum production, making the chance of impurities a lot smaller. We are also fans of niacinamide in skincare, and here's why!