Parabens in Cosmetics

by Sue Ingram
(South Africa)

What's the status on the alternatives to paraben use as a preservative in cosmetics? Replacing parabens in cosmetics, as well as similar synthetic ingredients, have had various challenges over the past few years, which relate mostly to performance, costs, safety and stability. Battling to find a solution has been at the forefront of many natural, pure and organic based cosmetic manufacturers and ingredient formulators for the last 20 years or more. But it is only in approximately the last 5 years that the consumer has started to really push for, or insist on, less toxic preservatives and more specifically, no parabens in cosmetics.

Recently the Organic Monitor released a report aimed at assisting " formulators developing paraben-free formulations, as well as ingredient firms developing raw materials for preservation." As a result of the pressure applied on the cosmetic industry, but especially on the big corporations, to remove all parabens in cosmetics formulations, there seems to have been some progress. This Technical insights report:

  • Evaluates preservative options available to replace parabens and similar synthetic materials, including other contentious ones like formaldehyde donors, phenoxyethanol and halogenated preservatives, plus "milder" ones such as benzoic acid/ sodium benzoate, formic acid and salicylic acid.

  • Provides insight to new or novel preservative ingredients, including such things as hurdle technology and surface active membrane disruptors, plus ingredient blends that provide a preservative quality

  • Addresses technical formulation issues for those manufacturing cosmetics

  • Reviews some of the preservatives approved by natural and/or organic standards. Included in natural preservatives are Ethyl Lauroyl Arginate HCl, spice & citrus extracts, blended botanical extracts and grapefruit seed extracts

  • Highlights the difference between natural and synthetic preservative systems

  • Lists the leading producers of alternative preservative options, including some ingredients that have a preservative enhancing effect

Organic Monitor, the publisher, is a specialist research, consulting & training firm that regularly hosts seminars, workshops, and summits on technical issues associated with natural & organic cosmetics.

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