What Are Skin-Care Preservatives?

 

Preservatives are chemical agents that inhibit the growth of micro-organisms in creams or cosmetic products. Because of the many fats used in cosmetics, formulations are more susceptible to invasion by micro-organisms that other types of chemical formulations. 

While there is definitely a risk of irritation from these types of ingredients, the risk to skin and eyes from using a contaminated product is considered by many scientists to be even greater.

The three main types of micro-organisms present in cosmetic formulations are bacteria, fungi and yeast. Cosmetics may become contaminated because of cross-contamination by the user. The user will apply the cream to the skin, re-dipping the same hand that has touched the skin into the jar of cream. When the fingers touch the cream, bacteria and other micro-organisms come in contact with the product in the jar. 

Preservatives must be added to cosmetics to kill these contaminating bacteria. Bacteria are also present in small amounts in the raw ingredients used to make the cosmetics. 

Another popular way in skin-care products is the use of botanical (plant) ingredients and other natural materials. Natural materials are more likely to break down than synthetic materials, and are more likely to be contaminated with micro-organisms such as fungi. Therefore, the use of natural materials actually increases the need for more preservatives.

The most commonly used preservatives are parabens group. It is estimated that more than 90% of all cosmetic products contain some form of paraben. 

Preservatives are used in very small quantities so they do not cause unnecessary irritation. Because they are present in small quantities, they are almost always some of the very last ingredients to be listed on an ingredient label which is always to be listed in descending order of their presence amount.

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