If there were a self-preserving skin care line, would you use it?
And the Left Brain Loquates…
This is an excellent question and one that is likely on the minds of a fair number of consumers of cosmetics. The ideal answer is YES, we`d much prefer using a self-preserving skin care line. Unfortunately, there are currently no reliable self-preserving skin care or hair care products. Based on the best data available today, we could never recommend using a cosmetic that does not contain some kind of preservative.
Cosmetic chemists don’t like preservatives
When it comes right down to it, we cosmetic chemists do not like to put preservatives in their products. They provide no functional benefit, they can interfere with the ingredients that make the product work and some of them are really nasty chemicals when used at high levels. They are harsh chemicals because they kill cells. Microbes are made of cells but so are we. Therefore, it is not surprising that some of the preservatives used at high levels are irritating to human cells while they kill the invading microbial ones.
We need preservatives
But preservatives are a necessary evil. While we don’t love the preservative options available, the notion of not using any preservative is even more objectionable. Look at this list of microbes and diseases they can cause.
Streptococcus pyogen - Allergic reactions (pus)
Clostidium tetani – Tetanus
Clostidium perfringens- Gangrene
Pseudomonas aeruginosa -Conjunctivitis, pus, infections
Trichophyton – Dermatomycosis
Aspergillus- Allergic reactions
What would you rather have, a slight skin irritation or Gangrene? Seems like a simple choice.
Why self-preserving isn’t safe
Microbes are hearty organisms and they will grow in almost any environment that contains water. So-called self preserved cosmetics are just not as safe as formulas that contain preservatives. They just don’t work as well. There are various formulation techniques used to make a preservative-free cosmetics but they all have their drawbacks. For example, one way is to reduce the pH to such a low level that microorganisms can`t survive. Well, that might work while the container is closed but once it`s opened and exposed to moisture, the potential for microbial growth is created. With no preservative the nasty critters will keep growing and contaminate the entire product. Yuk!!
Other techniques for creating self-preserved cosmetics such as using natural preservatives, aroma chemicals and antioxidants are only effective against a limited number of microbes. For example they might kill off the Aspergillus but have no effect on the Pseudomonas aeruginosa. You can be sure you won’t have an allergic reaction but you might get conjunctivitis (pink eye).
Beauty Brains Bottom Line
Preservatives provide a great benefit to society and have directly led to the significant increase in human longevity. If you want to be safe, you should only use cosmetics that are properly preserved.
Using self-preserved skin products is like drinking non-pasteurized milk. It’s ok for a little while but even if you keep it refrigerated, it will eventually spoil. Would you drink spoiled, contaminated milk? So why would you ever want to put it on your skin?