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DERMAL

PERSPECTIVE ON PRESERVATIVES The Paraben-free Phenomenon

By Dr. Andrew R. Christie

In a previous issue of Beauty Biz, I discussed the controversies and misinformation surrounding the use of parabens in topical cosmetics. The evidence concluded that parabens were not only found naturally in some berries, but also confirmed their safety when correctly formulated in topical cosmetics. The European Economic Community Cosmetics Directive not only supports that parabens are non-toxic, but allows a concentration up to 0.8% (as mixed esters of parahydroxybenzoic acid) for safe topical use. Despite unfounded industry dispute, Parabens remain the most widely used preservative in the cosmetic industry and is used in over 70-80% of products produced worldwide.

PARABEN-FREE PRESERVATIVES

So, what about products claiming to be paraben-free? Do they still use preservatives? If so, what other options are there for formulations that wish to make this claim?

Phenoxyethanol: A broad-purpose preservative sourced usually from phenol that effortlessly works in combination with parabens or sorbic acid. Used primarily in concentrations between 0.5 -2.0%, phenoxyethanol is non-formaldehyde releasing and is considered to possess a very low irritation or sensitizing potential. It is for this reason that phenoxyethanol is also used to preserve intravenous vaccine solutions.

Firstly, before we continue, it must be stated that ANY cosmetic product (especially one that contains any water) needs some form of preservation system. Without it, the product risks discolouration, separation, bacterial, fungal and microbial contamination. Such contamination not only reduces the lifespan and efficacy of the formulation, but compromises its safety by increasing the risk of irritation and reaction to the skin, eyes and mucous membranes. So it is not a question of whether to use a preservative, but a question of WHICH preservative to use.

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Beauty Biz Year 10 Issue 6

The following are the most common agents used to maintain product integrity to either fully replace parabens or to work as part of a conservation system with reduced paraben concentration. Despite the chemical-sounding name, ingredients such as phenoxyethanol and sorbic acid are often claimed to be naturally-derived and hence add another marketing spin to consumers.

Sorbic Acid: A broadspectrum, non-toxic preservative that delivers protection against the formation of mould and yeast. Sorbic acid may be synthetically produced or derived naturally from mountain ash berries. Argued to possess moderately sensitising potential when used in leave-on formulae, sorbic acid is commonly used in concentrations between 0.1-0.3%. Sorbic acid and its derivatives commonly feature

Beauty Biz Year 10 Issue 6  

Beauty Biz provides comprehensive information to the Beauty Industry on a regular basis. It is written for today’s salon and spa owners and...

Beauty Biz Year 10 Issue 6  

Beauty Biz provides comprehensive information to the Beauty Industry on a regular basis. It is written for today’s salon and spa owners and...