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5 popular natural preservatives for cosmetics

5 popular natural preservatives for cosmetics

by Oyéta Kokoroko

Discover 5 (popular) natural preservatives that are commonly used by natural skincare brands.
Due to public pressure (people moving away from synthetic preservatives) and more stringent regulation on the use of synthetic preservatives, natural skincare formulators now have a new challenge… we must find alternatives that work. For these reasons, we have been searching for effective alternatives that provide broad spectrum protection for our cosmetic formulations.

Below are popular broad spectrum preservatives that are shown to (generally) inhibit the growth of bacteria, yeast and mold. Because every formula is different, a challenge test must be done for your unique formula to confirm efficacy.

Used in combination with antibacterial ingredients and preservatives boosters (when applicable), these natural preservatives are effective alternatives to parabens, phenoxyethanol and formaldehyde-based preservatives.

Please note that this list is not exhaustive. If you are new to formulation, this will help you get started. They are also effective options to preserve your herbal infusions and decoctions and can be used in a wide range of cosmetic applications.

1) Leucidal (inci name: Leuconostoc/Radish Root Ferment Filtrate) is based on an antimicrobial peptide originally derived from  bacteria found in kimchi. It is probably the most popular natural preservative I have seen many natural and organic skincare brands use in their products. Leucidal is widely used to preserve hydrosols, botanical/plant aqueous extracts, lotions and serums. Recommended use: 2%-4%.

2) Leucidal® Liquid SF (inci name: Lactobacillus Ferment) is a probiotic-based ingredient created by the fermentation of Lactobacillus in a defined growth medium… How does it work? Lactobacillus  will restrict the growth of other microorganisms by acidifying its environment and by producing antimicrobial components (peptides) that are capable of providing broad spectrum antimicrobial protection. It also offers skin conditioning benefits. Recommended use: 2%-4%.

3) Georgard 221/Cosgard (inci name: Benzyl Alcohol (and) Dehydroacetic Acid) is a paraben free preservative with broad spectrum activity that is made from a combination of Benzyl Alcohol and Dehydroacetic Acid. It has a low toxicity profile and is eco-certified (classified as ecologically friendly raw material). Cosgard offers effective broad spectrum protection against gram- positive and gram-negative bacteria, yeast and mold (a little weak on mold). Cosgard is used in lotions, serums, emulsions, creams and hair care products for example.  Recommended use: 0.2-0.8%. Brazil and Europe max use 1.15% (not allowed in aerosols).

4) Preservative Eco (inci name: Benzyl alcohol, Salicylic Acid, Glycerin, Sorbic Acid) is another example of a broad spectrum preservation system that can be included in natural and organic skin and hair care products. Preservative Eco is used in lotions and creams and even anhydrous (non-water containing) products. Recommended use: 1%. Note from supplier (Aromantik): “As this preservative contains Salicylic acid, it cannot be used in leave on products (like creams) intended for babies and children. It can be used in rinse off products like a shampoo or body wash.

5) Colloidal silver

Colloidal silver is an inexpensive healing agent and disinfectant that has a myriad of applications.

Potassium Sorbate is a food grade preservative generally regarded as safe (GRAS) worldwide. It effectively preserves against mold and yeast but apparently it is not as effective for bacteria.

Feel free to research these natural preservatives to learn more about their recommended dosages, pH ranges and compatibility. For those who formulate their own skincare, do you use these natural preservatives? What do you think of them? Let me know your thoughts below.