When I first started making cosmetic products, i.e. lotions, lip balms, sprays, scrubs, etc., I was very hesitant , in the beginning, on which ingredients to use that were all natural and yet effective for preserving all my hard work from going rancid.
Making your own natural cosmetics allows you to control the ingredients and produce recipes created specifically for you. The downside to this is that natural ingredients tend to have a limited shelf life. Learning what ingredients are natural preservatives, and how to use them, will prevent rancidity and anti-oxidation in your homemade cosmetics.
But really, when it comes down to it, if you’re not going to use it up in about a week, then you need more than just a “natural” preservative.
The following is from: Review of 27 preservatives at makingskincare.com, –be sure to read it in it’s entirety for excellent preservative advice. Here’s a snippet:
GLYCERIN / ALCOHOL / HONEY / GRAPEFRUIT SEED EXTRACT AS PRESERVATIVE??
– Glycerin is a very effective preservative – in medicine, you will frequently find glycerites as a delivery vehicle (especially in children’s and herbal medicine) where the active component is preserved and then ultimately delivered in a water soluble solvent (glycerin) as an alternative delivery mechanism to alcohol. To be effective as a preservative, you need to have AT LEAST a 50% glycerin content in your formula, and it is best if it is about 60-70%. The downside is glycerin is very, very sticky – not a great skin feel.
– Ethanol (not vodka, instead use 190 Everclear alcohol or skin safe cosmetic use denatured alcohol) anything containing 20-25% ethanol is self preserving. Alcohol is astringent so not a great add if you want a moisturising lotion. It is also a known irritant so if you have sensitive skin, a lotion containing alcohol could sting! You might see it in a lotion with alcohol as a cooling foot lotion as it will evaporate from your skin. However note, you might see Ostwalt Ripening in an O/W emulsion resulting in flocculation and ethanol can diminish foaming of surfactant-based products like shampoo.
– Honey – not advisable – see http://swiftcraftymonkey.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/honey-few-studies-ive-found-about-its.html
– Grapefruit Seed Extract,(not recommended). GSE is not what you would consider to be a regular extract. Citrus seed extracts are not all-natural – they are chemically derived from the seeds of citrus fruits. It is made IIRC by reacting with ammonia, so is more like a quat in some ways. There are concerns that the limited preservative properties GSE does have are in fact due to added preservatives like parabens – see http://swiftcraftymonkey.blogspot.co.uk/2010/10/preservatives-grapefruit-seed-extract.html
After my many years of working with all types and lots of research, here is a list of helpful and useful natural ingredients that are safe to use for preserving your cosmetic recipes as long as you’re using it up within about a week as well as snippets from around the web that may answer your questions:
Benzoin Resin (also called Styrax) is a less well known preservative and fixative. For centuries, it has been an important ingredient in the making of incense due to its fixative qualities. Benzoin has a rich sweet scent that is quite distinctive. Because it is easily absorbed through the skin, it should be diluted in alcohol before use in cosmetic recipes. Benzoin resin is often found in facial toning and facial oil recipes to improve their shelf life.
Borax is a common ingredient that used to be found on the laundry shelf of most grocery stores. It is a natural cleaner and preservative, and it often found in lotion, cream, bath salt and bath scrub recipes.
Honey is a marvelous natural inhibitor. One teaspoon to one tablespoon of honey can be added to most any natural cosmetic recipe to improve its shelf life. My personal facial elixir has honey as an essential component, but I also add it to salts, scrubs, facials, creams and lotions.
Jojoba is one of my favorite natural inhibitor because, like honey, it is just so very versatile. Jojoba is often combined with those oils that are known for having a limited shelf life, such as almond oil, apricot kernel oil, and rosehip seed oil. Get in the habit of substituting a tablespoon of jojoba oil for the more fragile carrier oils to improve the shelf life of your home made creations.
Vitamin E Oil is another natural inhibitor that I use quite often. If you are making a preparation for the skin, add a teaspoon of vitamin E oil to prevent rancidity and as an anti-oxidant. Vitamin E oil has the additional benefit of being safe to use for recipes for babies and small children.
When creating my own cosmetic recipes, I tend to use a two-pronged approach. Benzoin and vitamin E in a facial oil, for instance, or jojoba and borax in a lotion. Incorporating these natural preservatives in your own creations will enhance your cosmetics making repertoire considerably.
great place to find information about “green formulating”
Submitted on 2013/08/25 at 3:55 pm
I think your blog is fantastic. I’m starting a natural skincare company and am using mostly butter and creams (no water or milk). I understand that I don’t need to put preservatives in these formulations. However, I would like to add something that inhibits bacterial as least a little. I am thinking of standardly adding vitamin E to all the butters and creams. Later on we will get into some formulations that use distilled water.Can you give me a little more information on the following? A friend sent them to me after attending one of her work workshops on lotion making: Dermofeel 688 INCI: p-Anisic Acid and Glyceryl Caprylate (and) Glyceryl Undecylenate. Also, the natural preservative mixtures that you mentioned, can I get them already mixed? If I can get them already mixed, what percentage should they be of my formulation?
Submitted on 2013/09/16 at 5:24 pm | In reply to Carlos.
I found this mixture of ingredients here; http://www.kinetiktech.com/materials/index.php. and here’s a link to a great .pdf about making your own natural “green” formulations; http://www.kinetiktech.com/docs/GreenGuide-latest.pdf . hope that helps
“To avoid parabens, Jason Natural Cosmetics has switched from methylparaben to a natural preservative that has the same shelf life–2-3 years–as the paraben-based preservative. In January 2003, for its Shaman Earthly Organics line, Jason debuted a preservative that consists of sodium benzoate (salt crystals), potassium sorbate (powder from mountain ash trees combined with potassium salt) and grapefruit-seed extract. “Now our preservative systems are food grade, which adds to the purity level of our products,” Light says.
Aubrey Organics solved the preservative puzzle with a mixture of grapefruit-seed extract and vitamins A, C and E, which inhibits micro-bacterial growth and helps retard the ingredients’ decay. All of the company’s 250 personal care products are made with this natural preservative, says Aubrey representative Sandie Coretti, and have shelf lives of 18 months to 3 years–considerably shorter than products made with synthetic preservatives, which can last 5-8 years, Coretti says.
The Obsessively Organic line by Kiss My Face uses a blend of all-natural preservatives, Byckiewicz says. This blend assures the products have a shelf life of up to 2 years.
As companies seek alternatives to synthetic preservatives, the industry as a whole is moving forward on issues that are just as challenging. What OCA. OTA and virtually everybody else in the industry agrees on is that the higher the level of organic ingredients in a personal care product, the safer it is for the consumer. How quickly they can agree on standards that they can support is another matter. Until then, consumers will have to educate themselves about label claims–and rely on their scruples…..