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Ingredients Info

A quick guide to Cosmetic Preservatives

What is a Preservative?

A preservative is an ingredient that protects the products from going bad or being contaminated. It increases the shelf life of the product.

Why are preservatives needed?
Preservatives are absolutely necessary to prevent bacterial growth and mold. Whenever there is a chance of the introduction of water, it can lead to bacterial growth.

We cannot see microbial growth with the naked eye. Yeast and mold may appear like black or white spots, or a yellowish layer. Other ones, cannot be detected directly.

Unpreserved products can lead to skin diseases and skin infections. Fresh products are a house for microbial growth. Even fruits, and milk go bad and decay. Using high amounts of oil, glycerine, salts, or sugar like 70-80% can reduce microbial growth but using it at a higher rate is not practical for many applications.

Broad Spectrum Preservatives:
Few preservatives work against gram-positive bacteria, few against gram-negative bacteria or yeasts or mold or fungi. So, often preservatives are combined to form a broad spectrum preservative. Broad spectrum preservative means which protects the product from gram positive/negative bacteria, yeasts, mold and fungi. It covers protection against all kinds of microbial growth.

Difference between Gram Positive and Gram Negative Bacteria:
Gram stain is a laboratory test that detects bacteria and sometimes fungi.

Gram staining is what makes bacteria to be gram positive or negative and this happens because gram positive bacteria have thick peptidoglycan which retains crystal violet staining dye as opposed to gram negative. Gram negative bacteria stains red or pink.

Gram positive bacteria have cell walls composed mostly of a substance unique to bacteria known as peptidoglycan, or murein.

Tips to improve preservation:


Try to reduce the amount of water content.
Add chelating agent like EDTA, sodium gluconate or others.
Add preservative booster like Propanediol 1,3
Use containers that are less possible to contaminate with water products. Example: plastic or glass and not metals.
Do not add high amounts of electrolytes like aloe vera, sodium lactate etc.
Check and adjust pH to cover preservative range.
Combine two preservatives to cover a broader range.
Avoid dipping fingers in products.
Follow GMP (Good Manufacturing Practises). May be will have another blog on this topic 😀
Are you confused on which preservative to be used for a product? We have this sorted for you. Check out the preservatives that we have and how to use.

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