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The challenges of preserving natural formulas


Perry Romanowski
Element 44 Inc, Chicago, USA


Preserving cosmetics can be challenging when following a natural formulation strategy.
Standard preservatives are not allowed so other compounds and formulating techniques must be employed. There are only a few preservatives that qualify as natural following established natural standards. Since these compounds are often not as effective at stopping microbial growth a combination of ingredients and hurdle technology are required. This article reviews what it means to be a natural cosmetic, how to use hurdle technology to inhibit microbial growth and natural ingredients that have preservation effects.

One of the most common type of questions I’m asked is about natural preservatives. On the one hand this is great because it demonstrates that people understand they should be using preservatives when creating cosmetics. On the other hand, it is troubling that some formulators (or the marketing people they answer to) have lost faith in standard, proven effective & safe, preservatives. 

But there is certainly a desire in the cosmetic industry to have product preservative strategies that stay away from using traditional preservatives such as parabens, formaldehyde donors, and organic biocides. In this article we’ll examine some of the natural preservation options and strategies formulators use to stay “natural.”



First, let’s review why preservatives are added to cosmetics. Preservatives are necessary for ensuring that cosmetics remain safe and effective. In truth, formulators would rather not add them because they don’t improve the function of the product. However, preservatives do prevent the growth of disease-causing bacteria, fungi, and mold so preservation is required. ...

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