Monday, October 10, 2005

Natural Preservatives in Natural Cosmetics (Skin care/Make it yourself info)

In using natural cosmetics, one concern is the use of synthetic preservatives. Some like the parabens are known to weakly mimic estrogen (which is thought to be linked with increases of certain types of cancer, including breast cancer). Many others are mild to serious irritants. There are many companies who sell otherwise natural cosmetics, and then will add synthetic (and often slightly toxic) preservatives. My question is why, when there are so many good all natural preservatives?

Some natural preservatives include:

Strongest: grapefruit seed extract (NOT the essential oil) (which is often used to purify water)

Strong: essential oils (most essential oils are antibacterial and antiseptic, and some like lavender and tea tree are also anti-viral. Many such as tea tree and euclaptus are known to kill a wide variety of germs), vitamins A, C , and E (some forms of vitamin C are not stable/degrade fast though), and herbal extracts like rosemary (which are usually herbs infused in alcohol).

Good: Herbs in general will preserve the product. You can also add a little bit of vinegar (which would also pH balance your product). Replace the water in your recipe with aloe or a hydrosol. Also Citric Acid is also a natural preservative.

I've made creams (which contain water) in which I've only used essential oils and vitamin E and they were fine for a couple months. Body and facial oils (no water) made this way, may be good for 6-8 months. Some companies like Aubrey Organics use a combination of grapefruit seed extract, vitamins, and essential oils/herbs, and those products are good for a year. Other companies, such as Dr. Bronner's/Sun Dog who makes lotion now, preserves their product with a combination of alcohol, essential oils, and vitamin E (Tocopherols). So if you used a combination of some of the preservatives, your product should keep fresh anywhere from 1 month to a year, depending on the product, and combination of preservatives used.

Other things that will help: store your natural products in the fridge (may change the texture of some products a bit), making sure your fingers are very clean if you actually touch the surface of the product (better to use a squeeze bottle or a clean spatula to scope out the product) and not keeping it in the bathroom (the humidity may cause mold to grow faster; but I'm sure a small bottle would be fine).

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