Not too long ago, the skin care industry was buzzing with news about preservatives. Women stormed cosmetic counters, angered to hear that chemicals like formaldehyde were inside their products.
And who wouldn’t be upset about disturbing news like that? Suddenly, users of beauty products everywhere wanted to know exactly what’s inside their products and why.
I completely agree with them—consumer skepticism keeps companies honest. And it keeps natural products on the shelves, available to all of us. Inside these products, natural preservatives do exactly the same things these chemical options promise, just without the harmful side effects.
Most skin care and cosmetic products are made up of five key parts: emollients, humectants, emulsifiers, surfactants, and preservatives. This article will discuss the function of preservatives in common beauty products and what natural alternatives are available.
What Are Preservatives?
Simply put, skin care companies put preservatives inside their products to keep them from spoiling. After all, who wants to store their skin cream in the refrigerator?
Preservatives, whether chemical or natural, are meant to protect the other ingredients of the product from decaying, growing discolored, or going bad.
Preservatives determine your products’ shelf life—but that doesn’t mean you can store them poorly or for unreasonable amounts of time.
Even with preservatives, keep your skin care and cosmetic products in a cool, dry place and only for as long as the company recommends.
Why All the Chemicals?
Chemical preservatives are typically cheaper to put into beauty products, which explains why many cosmetics companies turn to them. They also give products a longer shelf life than some organic ingredients do. But cheaper and more effective doesn’t equal safer, and some chemical preservatives can be very harmful to the skin.
When reading your ingredient lists, here are some of the common artificial preservatives to look out for and avoid:
- Imidiazolidinyl Urea and Diazolidinyl Urea. These can cause contact dermatitis and may release formaldehyde at certain temperatures.
- DMDM Hydantoin. This ingredient can be highly toxic as well, since it contains formaldehyde. It may also induce skin irritation for some. You’ll find this mostly in shampoo and deodorant products.
- Methyl, Propyl, Butyl and Ethyl Parabens. These are the known “bad guys” that many people know about now. They can cause severe allergic reactions, skin rashes and irritation.
Also look out for 2-Dromo-2-Nitro-Propane-1, 3-diol, Benzalkonium Chloride, Quarternium-15, Chloromethylisothiazolinone, isothiazolinone, hydroxytoluene (BHT), and Butylated hudroxyanisole (BHA).
On the other hand, seeing these items listed in the ingredients is a good sign: tea tree essential oil, thyme essential oil, grapefruit seed extract, bitter orange extract, and honey suckle flower extract.
Switching to natural preservatives in your beauty products can reduce your risk of skin irritation, allergic reactions, and even some forms of cancer. The toxic chemicals and carcinogens found in chemical preservatives, while they do increase product shelf life, just aren’t worth all the risk.
I’ve been using Xtend-Life’s skin care products because I made the choice to treat and protect my skin the healthy way. Try these products and other natural alternatives for yourself and see the benefits—both short- and long-term.