Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Beauty Goes Green II

Here are some questions from Webinar attendees concerning preservatives for natural products.

Could you explain how grapefruit seed extract may not be a natural preservative?

How do you address the issue that natural ingredients have very short shelf life, 3 to 6 months? Once the natural ingredients go rancid, they are worse for you than the sulphates, PABA.

Are there natural preservatives that you can use to maintain the integrity of all natural 'green' personal care products? How effective are they compared to synthetics/chemicals?


Anonymous Ben Blinder said...


I can respond to a few of these questions:

"...natural ingredients have a very short shelf life." Actually, as with many other things, this is a generalization. Some natural ingredients do indeed have a short shelf life, but others can be "good" for over one year. For exampe, there are certain natural oils that are excellent against rancidity due to their inherent composition (coconut oil and babassu oil are two). It all depends on the specific material!

"Are there natural preservatives...?" Well, there are botanicals that have antimicrobial activity, but according to the law they may not be able to be declared or used explicitly as "preservatives". Think of sunscreens, where the FDA rules very strictly on the use of non-approved sunscreen actives in products that claim SPF values. This is a matter between each marketer and their internal legal department, to be sure. I can say that many chemical preservatives have been proven to be VERY effective, without negative side effects, and botanical products with anti-microbial activity may not have nearly as much clinical testing support.

Ben Blinder
TRI-K Industries, Inc.

3:30 PM, March 06, 2007  
Anonymous Tina Hedges said...

Shelf life is a very important consideration even among products that are not "natural" or "organic". Many products that contain synthetic preservatives can also become unstable as well. Packaging also plays a key role in helping to prolong shelf life.

8:32 PM, March 06, 2007  
Anonymous Tina Hedges said...

Unstable or "bad" product is just that, bad. We would never recommend using a product that has turned "rancid", whether it is natural or not.

8:34 PM, March 06, 2007  
Anonymous Tina Hedges said...

There are natural preservative systems currently in the marketplace. Some have very strong natural scents - like rosemary - which hard to mask with more commercial scents. There is still a learning curve as Darrin pointed out, re: familiarty of some chemists with these types of systems.

8:34 PM, March 06, 2007  
Anonymous Ben Blinder said...


Good points, and absolutely correct. Choosing the correct preservative system (either natural or synthetic) is a key concern of formulators. A preservative can be inherently great but completely ineffectual in certain finished products, which is why you often see combinations of preservatives ("cocktails") rather than single ingredients on product labels. Other ingredients can cause emulsion instability, so even though the finished product is "clean", the emulsion may fall apart and render the product unusable. Preservation of cosmetic products is a bigger issue than most people tend to think, and removing well-established synthetic preservatives in favor of botanicals with anti-microbial activity should be approached carefully, diligently and with proper scientific caution.

Ben Blinder
TRI-K Industries, Inc.

9:12 AM, March 07, 2007  
Blogger Sofia said...

Can you explain how Grapefruit Seed Extract may not be a natural preservative?

Here are my 2 cents on the subject, although they may only be worth a penny:

A lot of the so-called “natural preservatives” are no more natural than Parabens. For instance, take Grapefruit Seed Extract which is marketed as a “natural preservative”

In order to create the Grapefruit Seed Extract the manufacturers take leftover grapefruit pulp (a waste product from grapefruit juice production) and in an intensive, multi-step industrial chemical process change the natural phenolic compounds into synthetic quaternary ammonium compounds. Synthetic ammonium chloride is one of the chemical catalysts used in this process.

So if you are going to call Grapefruit Seed Extract a “natural preservative” then by the same reasoning you can call Sodium Lauryl Sulfate: Coconut Oil Extract or by that logic you can call the dreaded and evil Parabens “Wild Berry Extract” on account of the fact that Parabens are derived from benzoic acid which they get from wild berries.

2:35 PM, March 15, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Grapefruit extract is not natural because it is processed with and contains residual propylene glycol, which may be doing most of the "preserving"...I would ask the supplier for info on how the Grapefruit seed extract is extracted and what it's carrier is. Don't fall for hidden ingredients. They may be misleading you, unknowingly.

3:06 PM, March 15, 2007  
Anonymous Ben Blinder said...

Wait a minute! It is true that some extracts use propylene glycol or similar materials as solvents, but there are other extracts that only follow a water extraction process -- no chemicals! If you specifically request a water-extracted grapeseed extract sterile-filtered (i.e., completely preservative free) then you should be OK.

12:44 PM, March 23, 2007  

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