Arlen asks The Beauty Brains about loose face powder products with and without a chemical as a preservative. Can preservation be done without a chemical with petrochemicals in it? Do natural herbal extracts make good preservatives?
Do Natural Preservatives Work?
The Left Brain Responds:
Loose face powder products don’t usually need a preservative because they do not contain water. Water is one of the key ingredients that microbes (bacteria, fungus & mold) need to grow in cosmetics. If you don’t have water in your formula, you often don’t need a preservative.
Do you need petrochemicals for preservation? Petrochemicals aren’t typically used for preservation. Ingredients like DMDM Hydantoin, Methylparaben and other parabens are not necessarily derived from petrochemicals. So no, you do not need petrochemicals for preservation. But you do need preservatives (or special packaging or no water) for preservation.
But whether you’re using Bare Escentuals, Simply Karen, of any of the dozens of drug store brands, there are no fully effective “naturally derived” preservatives. No manufacturer should rely on these things to adequately preserve your cosmetics unless you are willing to treat your cosmetics like they were food products that should be refrigerated and thrown away after a week or so.
Since using products with preservatives in them has not been shown to be harmful and has quite the contrary been found to be beneficial, you should continue to use only preservative-containing products. Preservative chemicals are designed to kill cells. So, it’s not surprising that some of them are toxic when you are exposed to them at extremely high levels. But they are used at really low levels in cosmetics and have been determined to be safe. It’s a lot safer than not using a preservative at all.