As regular readers of the Beauty Brains know, we recently blogged about Shea Moisture’s Organic Raw Shea Butter Moisture Retention Shampoo and raised the concern that the label seemed to missing a few key ingredients, including preservatives. We were skeptical that the natural extracts contained in the product would provide sufficient protection against microbial growth.
However, after prompting by comments from Sesame, we decided to seek out expert advice on the preservation question. So, we consulted a professional microbiologist who has worked on shampoo and conditioner formulas.
Natural extracts can preserve products
According to our consultant (who admittedly knows much more microbiology than any of the Beauty Brains), these extracts MAY be preserving the product.
“Yes, rosemary extract has been known to posses antimicrobial properties, and antioxidants will act as preservative boosters. However, I am not very familiar with the other two extracts. They are one of a number of “natural” or preservative free options that are getting a great deal of attention. The argan oil, although not in a completely anhydrous formulation, may also assist with creating a synergistic effect. Therefore, it is possible that there may not be any additional preservatives.”
However, her opinion does come with a caveat:
“…while I have not personally tried any of them; I would expect there to be an evident aesthetic impact if used at sufficient enough levels to be efficacious.”
We should also point out that natural extracts may be perfectly adequate for home formulators who are making small batches of product in their kitchens where they have total control over the cleanliness of the equipment. When it comes to large scale manufacturing it becomes much more difficult to ensure product preservation because of the so-called “house bugs” that can grow in the cracks and crevices of manufacturing tanks, pumps, and transfer lines.
The Beauty Brains bottom line
Based on this additional information we have to admit the possibility that this formula is adequately preserved with the ingredient list that has been provided. We are, after all, skeptical scientists not knee jerk natural product nay sayers. While we’re not completely convinced, all it would take is a look at the formula and the results of any microbial challenge testing that was done on the product to know for sure.
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