Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Importance Of Chemical Preservatives

I have in many articles, explained in brief and thorough detail the value of preservatives and their safety and efficacy for preserving our skincare products.

I have tried natural, preservative free products, naturally preserved products, synthetically preserved products to a combination of naturally and synthetically preserved. The latter I feel is the safest and best for keeping the products we use on our skin free from bacteria, mold, fungi and yeast. And you don't have to have parabens in your products for keeping your skincare safe.

What I am about to share with you is not for the faint of heart, and actually may make you very uncomfortable, or perhaps even queasy. Many will still swear by their organic creams and facial cleansers without really understanding fully what they are putting on their skin. But I am about to show you the actual result of what happens to a preservative free and naturally preserved product. They simply cannot withstand the touching of fingers, the temperature extremes in shipping, or handle the climate changes in a bathroom. And I am hoping for the die-hard proponents out there, of keeping it natural, these photos will offer the proof that all organically derived products are not necessarily safer.

For those that store preservative free creams in the refrigerator, this is also a false sense of security as I explained in Preservatives In Cosmetics ~ Natural vs Synthetic. They will last no longer than cooked or raw leftovers we store and must be tossed after just a few days. Even though you may not see a problem within the jar..... trust me, it is there lying in wait to shock you one day when you least expect it.

Naturally preserved can buy a longer shelf life, and after opening, maybe up to 30 days, but this is still subjective to what the cream is exposed to. I also know how seductive the organic, all natural preparations can be. Some of them are so beautifully displayed and photographed, they almost look good enough to eat. Which this in and of itself should give you food for thought. (No Pun Intended)

Natural skincare is definitely food for our skin, but it is also food for bacteria since natural ingredients produce sugars after processed into your liquid or cream emulsion.....and when the non-controlled environment is moist, such as damp hands or a steamy bathroom, the growth rate is accelerated at an alarming rate.

Exercise Caution: There are those that formulate creams, lotions and serums that are not emulsified with water or distillates, so they feel this allows them to have preservative free skincare products. Actually this is only partly true and no guarantee!

Products in airless pumps which are protected from the bathroom environment are one way to protect the consumer aside from preservatives. It won't matter that water or distillates aren't used once you open a jar or bottle which allows humidity or the touching of damp fingers to enter the emulsion, whether it is body scrubs, body butters, face creams or masques. It only takes a trace amount of water to begin the growth process.

If a skincare formulator makes this claim, move on, since in this instance there is no such thing as bacteria growth free based on composition once exposed to a moist bathroom environment. And, as I explain later in this article, can this formulator guarantee that the purchase of their raw ingredients arrived bacteria free? Fact is, raw ingredients can already be contaminated with pathogens which are harmful to skin health. Whereby making the argument for the use of some sort of preservative.

Some Scary Stuff!

Below are several pictures of natural skincare products that were provided to me by ladies who very much see the importance of having some kind of preservative in their cream..... now. They still love natural ingredients, however they won't be buying anything again I am sure, without the use of some kind of synthetic preservative noted on the label. Maybe not parabens necessarily, but Phenoxyethanol is a great one and is used at less than 1% ratio to entire product.

The first picture is about 30 days after opening the jar and had only been used a few times. This is the very beginning stages of mold, yet should be cause for alarm since this is when you can actually see the invasion of microbes.

The next picture to the left of this pair below is similar to the one above except it had been stored on a desk for a couple of months. The next picture on the right shows the progression after four months. There was one more progression at six months but I think we all get the idea. These pictures are bad enough, but the final stage of complete invasion of microbes was more than my weak stomach could take by which I wanted to spare my readers the obscenity of the mold growth. Let's just say it reminded me of a Chia Pet and leave it at that. When I have Chia Pets growing on food that gets shoved to the back of my fridge, I have to have my husband discard it because I can't deal with it. I must leave the room when he disposes of the offending nightmare.

Clearly, when purchasing skincare products preservatives are crucial. And in a litigious society, company's must be vigilant to what they are selling to their customers. The FDA this past year has created more stringent requirements for products whether they are made from the handcrafter or commercially prepared in order to better protect consumers.

The thing to be cognizant of, these pictures are showing you the actual invasion of the microbes, which means these were long contaminated before you can see the product going bad. Creams can still look and smell great, but it doesn't make them free from contaminants. Only Micro testing can achieve the results a lab is looking for to determine the efficacy of their chosen preservative.

Furthermore, bacteria and mold spores are more dangerous and harmful to the safety of our skin health than a miniscule amount of preservative designed to give us peace of mind on what we are consuming. The over inflated warnings about the dangers of preservatives (parabens in particular) is not only ridiculous, but not even worthy of consideration when you look at the actual danger if a product is sold without them.

This is why my entire line of ONATI Skin Care is organically and synthetically preserved, yet still remains paraben free as my personal choice. All of our key ingredients are naturally and botanically derived and are micro tested before being added to the emulsion to make sure they have arrived to the lab in excellent condition to begin with. The completed emulsions were then challenge tested for longevitity of shelf life (approx. 2 yrs) and for the "open jar" staying power. You will find this on the back of every product of ours with a tiny open jar emblem displaying the months it remains safe after opening. This emblem is required by the European Union for selling in foreign markets and we comply with their stringent requirements.

So next time you may think that an organically prepared product that is preservative free or naturally preserved is the way to go, and how wonderful this may seem, just take a look at these pictures once again to remind you of the actual outcome from purchasing products that are supposedly created to keep harmful chemicals from our bodies. I believe the end result is far worse and warrants caution.

Do you know what is on your countertop?

READ ingredient labels always and check for the ingredients that are important to you and for skin health sake, and look for some sort of preservative other than natural. They simply won't last and give you the protection your skin so needs despite our good intentions of keeping it all natural. Natural ingredients are an excellent choice overall, but make sure they are preserved. Keep yourself looking beautiful while also protecting yourself from harmful organisms in order to keep that healthy glow of well cared for skin..... which can only begin with your favorite preserved skincare product.

Cheers! ;~)

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  1. i am not afraid of germs as many of you westerners are - i can play with my dog and eat a sandwich straight afterwards or even - eat food that has fallen on the floor. still - i am much more afraid of the synthetic stuff then some mould. i'd probably scrape that off from the cream and still use the cream if it does not smell rancid or sour.

  2. It is not a question of being afraid of germs, but is more about the fact that though we are surrounded by germs and bacteria in our environment, they can still prove hazardous to our health.

    Mold is only one side of this equation. In the article it also states that a product doesn't have to be rancid or smelling bad in order for it to have gone bad. Microbes are there!

    For a person with absolutely healthy skin that has no eruptions or lesions then bacteria in a product won't hurt them if they enjoy knowingly smearing contaminated product on their face, since our skin protects us from bacterial infection. But for those with acne or rosacea, they can tend to have broken skin and then this does become a major component to exacerbating their condition. One of concern would be getting a staph infection.

    We can get staph from everywhere including it living on our own skin, but if it is introduced into the jar with no preservative for fighting the contaminant, the skin then becomes exposed once a lesion breaks the surface, cream is applied to open lesion and the fight begins to heal that person, which can include hospitalization.

    Odds are in the favor this won't happen since it is the extreme example but why be sorry rather than safe.