Preservatives

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Hi all,
so I have been reading and reading about preservatives. I was planning to keep anything like that out of my products when I come sell them but now I feel I could be doing more harm than good by doing so.
I have come across that Benzyl alcohol and Dehydroacetic acid are considered fine for use by COSMOS and Ecocert in products labelled natural or organic. The one shop online that I found does sell it in the UK is completely out of stock and not sure if it will be back. I have found though that you can buy Benzyl Alcohol on its own, I was wondering if anyone uses this in their products alone and how it performs, whether it’s strong enough to do the job? Thank you in advance :)
 

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justjacqui

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Benzyl Alcohol by itself is not broad spectrum so you will need additional preservatives to get full coverage.

The Benzyl Alcohol / Dehydroacetic acid is ok in creams /lotions but a bit weak on fungi so it would also be recommended to add some sodium benzoate as well. Definitely keep the pH below 6 when using this preservative.

Here is a good overview of preservatives that might be of interest

 
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Thank you justjaqui! That’s great I’ll have a look! Preservatives feel like a minefield, trying to be as good as possible but not sacrificing quality
 
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Many EU soaping suppliers have a range of great ecocert preservatives to choose from. And with the UK laws on cosmetics in general you are going to have to use something efficacious or you won't get the recipe approved for sale in the first place.

And without opening the can of worms - even non ecocert preservatives sold today are not always monstrous things. Better to have a tiny amount of that than smearing a lotion full of growing bacteria on to the skin!

Eta - people might think that preservatives in lotions in general are bad things, but are they worse than some of the things that will (not might, but WILL) grow in a mixture of oils and water?
 
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The Efficacious Gentleman thank you for your response! I think your very right!
I believe unless you’re researching it you end up believing the scary stories about preservatives and don’t really think about what would grow if they weren’t there.

I know I’m asking a different question now but.. am I definitely right in thinking that say a dry product such as a oat powder with rose petals doesn’t need a preservative? Even though it’s technically food? I know you would be mixing wet with dry but just wanted to make sure there isn’t anything I should be doing. Thank you in advance guys, much appreciate the responses
 
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I wouldn't, but then I don't sell. I didn't when I made an emulsifying sugar scrub, although because of hands going in in (and potentially wet hands) there is a chance that water will get in even though I added none myself. With an oat/petal mix, I imagine it wouldn't have hands going in there?
 

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If its an anhydrous, all oil or all dry powder formulation if it will be in contact with water you should include a preservative. For example, if you are selling sugar scrubs I would definitely put a preservative in. If its for personal use you could exclude it, but how long will it sit on a shelf? Will it be exposed by your wet hands reaching into the jar, will you take the jar in the bath/shower with you to use? Those are examples of how water may be introduced. It's risky not to use a preservative especially if you sell.

Here's another example. I have been formulating a dry facial scrub that you shake out the powders then add water too it to make a foaming slurry to scrub and wash your face. Even thou the ingredients should stay dry until use if wet hands handle it or its used in the bath or shower water may be introduced. So I will be including a preservative.
 
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Not candybee, but I would only really look at whether or not something like the pH is suitable (lotion preservatives don't always work in liquid soap and vice versa), so if your preferred preservatives are in okay with the ingredients you're adding them to, I would do it regardless if it's a dry or wet product.

Not to take it too far off course, but could the bacteria grow in the dry product even with some accidental water in there? I'm thinking bath salts, and looking at my cooking salt which does get a fair bit damp at times even with the best will in the world - mould is not an issue. Maybe if it was really wet, that's something else, but the question is what will the bacteria eat? In a lotion, they eat the oils. Would they eat the salt?
 

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The dry ingredients in my facial scrub are hand milled grains. Remember the Japanese Washing Grains from the Body Shop? They used 100% milled adzuki beans. Mine is similar but I also add a dry foaming agent and a couple other dry ingredients. Because my business has a sea theme I also add hand milled sea salt which I am finding seems to help preserve the grains overall. My packaging is a shaker bottle so that the grains can be shaken out into the palm of your hand. I know from past experience that I loved to take the Japanese washing grains into the shower with me and set it on a shower caddy shelf where it was exposed to water/dampness.

In my case the grains shelf life changes once the grains are milled or cut. The grains I use can last up to 1-3 yrs as long as they are stored properly. Once cut/milled that changes their shelf life and being turned into a powder form they are also more vulnerable to dampness/water and can form mold. So I will be using a preservative and also putting in print a best used by date on the label.

I also make a foaming sea salts product for the bath. I have not been using a preservative in this one yet but have been rethinking this lately. My problem hasn't been mold but the salts mixed with the other dry ingredients start clumping in humid weather even thou I have them in plastic bottles with a seal on them then a tightly screwed on lid then sealed in shrink wrap too. Argh!!! I have to use PET plastic bottles as the buildup of gases from some of the ingredients could crack glass or cause it to shatter. Anyway I am worried that if moisture can seep into the bottles so can bacteria and mold or other nasties. So I will be adding a preservative to this. So its not always a simple matter determining how a product may or may not be contaminated. In this case with the salt bath I found out the hard way.

I do make a body oil that I originally put in an antioxident (grapeseed oil extract) to extend the shelf life of the oil. It didn't need a preservative as it is anhydrous so I didn't use one. But then I started noticing that something was settling in the bottom of the bottles while I was set up at my market. It took a while to figure out it was the GOE itself that was seperating out and sinking to the bottom. I suppose I could have used an oil based solubilizer but didn't want to add that into my product. Instead, I just took the GOE out of the recipe and now its fine. Without a preservative.

I guess my point is technically anhydrous products don't necessarily need a preservative. But its not always the case. You have to plan for how it will be used, what it may be exposed to, other environmental exposure factors you may not have any control over, how it will be stored, shelf life, etc. to determine if your product may be safer for the customer and for you with a preservative.

There are several different preservatives on the market so you can do a little research to figure out which one is best for your application. I use different ones for different products. You also need to check and see if it needs to be coupled with a second preservative as not all preservatives are full spectrum and may only protect against certain microbes. Also, always check to see if its water or oil soluble or you could have a problem incorporating it into your formulation. And lastly, if you are running a business you have to look for ways to save money without compromising quality. Not saying always look for the cheapest preservative but prices can vary hugely from one to another and with your particular formulation perhaps more than one preservative may work. You can choose the cheaper one just make sure it is right for yours and that you are getting a full spectrum preservative or combo of preservatives to do the job right. If you have to spend the extra money to get the right one do it. Don't scrimp on quality. But do shop around as prices vary.
 
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lianasouza

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I have to use PET plastic bottles as the buildup of gases from some of the ingredients could crack glass or cause it to shatter.
I didn't know this could happen! What ingredients may release gases?
 
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Wow lots to consider! But amazing advice, such a great forum this lol. Thank you all! I may be back!… if I think of something else lol
Please keep in mind other than information from EG most of your answers at the moment are coming from US members and our laws differ considerably when selling than yours in Europe. We do not have to go through assessors here like you do for approval and permitting unless we are selling products considered drugs.

Also, no one mentioned when using preservatives some ingredients can deactivate certain preservatives, so you need to study if your formula/ingredients work with your preservative/preservatives of choice. I had one lotion I made for a while that I could not use my normal preservative system in it. Eventually, I simply gave up making and selling that particular lotion. Preserving is tricky.
 
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thank you cmzaha I wasnt aware you didn’t have to have yours certified.. but I will definitely do some reading! Thank you!
 

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