There is a lot of talk about “preservative-free” these days. Not only in foods but also in cosmetics. There are vendors who have approached us saying, “We are looking for organic, chemical-free, preservative-free products to keep on our shelf.”
Chemical-free is itself a misguided term mainly used as a marketing gimmick. For more details on why chemical-free is misleading, check out the blog link here.
Now, let’s jump to preservatives in cosmetics. So, what are they? When and why do we need them?
Most cosmetics contain some amount of water along with other chemical compounds. And regardless of whether we store these products well or not, water in the products attract micro-organisms. These micro-organisms can attack and shorten the shelf-life of the product. But most importantly, they can cause the growth of harmful bacteria along with mold and yeast formation.
That being said, products that do not have water in them may not require preservatives but it is also important to actively keep them away from water during use to avoid spoiling them.
In Scentora’s list of products, our face packs, body butters, body scrubs, lip balms, lip scrubs, cream deodorants, solid perfumes, bath salts, body soap, nourisher oil and hair oil needs no water during manufacture. And these do not have preservatives. Again though, it is important to actively keep them away from water during use to prevent contaminating them.
But wait, what about our body soap that has lye, water and coconut oil?? Does that not need a preservative?
Nope. This is because bacteria love acidic conditions (pH value of 0 being most acidic and pH value of 7 being least acidic).
The pH of most cold-process body soaps is close to 8. Scentora's body soaps also have a pH of 8. This means body soaps are alkaline and bacteria hate alkaline compositions.
Natural preservatives are those that are taken from natural sources or are somehow nature-identical. There are a number of such preservatives that meet ECOCERT standards; these are proven and tested to be safe for use in organic skincare products.
The preservative that we use in Scentora’s shampoo bar is GeoGard Ultra. We need a preservative for our shampoo bar since its pH is close to 5.5.
GeoGard Ultra is a broad-spectrum preservative (protects against bacteria, yeast and fungi) that is “a synergistic blend of Gluconolactone and Sodium Benzoate.” And yes, this meets ECOCERT standards.
It is also important to note that preservatives are added in small quantities; not too little and not too much.
So, yes. Preservatives. They aren’t all bad. It’s just important to choose the right ones.
Written by Ambica Gayathri (Co-Founder of Scentora)