Preserving cosmetic products



Element 44 Inc, Chicago, USA

It’s becoming more common to encounter beauty product brands that claim their products are “preservative free” or that they avoid traditional cosmetic preservatives. These cosmetic marketers have come to the conclusion that consumers don’t like preservatives, and avoiding these chemicals in their formulas is a competitive advantage. While I won’t comment on the marketing strategy, the notion that beauty products should be free of preservatives is mistaken. Unfortunately, this trend has actually made beauty products less safe as evidenced by the increase in warning letters for microbial contamination sent to companies by the FDA. In this article we’ll look at cosmetic preservation, why we need it and how it’s traditionally been done.


The main reason we need preservatives in cosmetics is because microbes can grow almost anywhere! All they need is a food source and water and most beauty products have plenty of both. While many of these microbes are benign, others bring with them distasteful product changes or even diseases. As a cosmetic chemist it’s up to us ...