Yesterday, I informed you about why the use of preservatives is necessary in some products. I mean, it seems sensless to spend good money on a lotion or cream that needs to be used or thrown away with in 2 weeks...why waste your money like that?
So aren't there any effective natural preservatives out there? Natural preservatives...yes, effective, not so much. Many natural substances offer some antibacterial benefits -- certain essential oils, like Tea Tree, and some vitamins, like Vitamin E, are antioxidants and can help reduce some forms of bacteria when used in high concentrations and in ideal conditions. Unfortunately though, your bathroom, purse and car are not ideal conditions. Steam, heat, direct sunlight and other adverse conditions help encourage bacterial growth and most "natural preservatives" can't be used in strong enough concentrations to fight contamination without running the risk of skin irritation or allergic reactions. Other natural ingredients are useful only against certain strains of contaminants and for limited amounts of time.
First, even with a preservative, our products are still a healthier alternative to commercial products because the remaining ingredients within our products are natural or gentle. And secondly, we don't use unnecessarily high levels of preservatives like most commercial manufacturers use.
The options (for preservatives) will be based on formulation and what it contains. Essential oils are the most natural antimicrobials you will find. Essential oils that have demonstrated antimicrobial activity include caraway, cinnamon, clove, cumin, eucalyptus, lavender, lemon, rose, rosemary, sage, sandalwood and thyme. Unfortunately, the percentage required to adequately protect a product from microbial growth generally exceeds the recommendations for safe amounts of essential oils to use in skin care products.
Grapefruit seed extract or citricidals are another class of antimicrobials that are considered by some to be more natural than the parabens. A good quality citrus seed extract should not contain additional preservatives. Grapefruit Seed Extract (GSE) is a citrus seed based anti-microbial used as a preservative in skin care products. GSE is made with the extracts of citrus seeds and pulp. It is blended with vegetable glycerin to make it non-irritating to the skin and mucous membranes when used in formulations. GSE is even safe enough to use as a disinfectant for drinking water when necessary.
Parabens are preservatives that are available in small quantities for crafters and small businesses. Paraben based preservatives include Germaben, Germaben II, Phenonip, Methyparaben and other types such as Germall and LiquaPar Oil.