Preservatives in Green Beauty: We Podcast with an Expert
Options are good. In the beauty world, options in the form of healthier, more conscious ingredients are not only welcome, but expected, as each of us tap into our stash of Netflix documentaries or read Michael Pollan with voracity.
Science, though, is also important. And when it comes to long-trusted preservatives in long-loved brands, there is something to be said for the research which has gone into approving them. Says Jean Seo of Evolue Beauty, "I can't tell you how many clients came to me with eye infections from using natural mascara or eye cream that didn't have the right preservatives. Or those whose organic face oils dried their skin because of an overload of essential oils that weren't extracted and proportioned properly. Or the people who waited months for the bumps, redness, and irritation caused by "natural" fruit acids to heal."
So, there's an issue. Not one that can't be solved, but one that requires time, as skincare scientists learn to test newer, healthier forms of preservatives that still maintain a product's integrity. Last week, in the midst of a product meeting, we spoke with Florés Boticario's Ale Ore on consumer trust, autonomy in an e-commerce world, and the perils of fitting into an ever-changing green beauty business model.
Natural products are popping up faster than ever before - and the increasing ease of direct-to-consumer e-commerce operations means that anyone, even your next door neighbour, can become an arbiter of green beauty. In the US, there are famously few regulations for beauty brands, so many natural companies use fear to coax us into buying preservative "alternatives," like products preserved with alcohol, grapefruit oil, or otherwise. (If your products mix these and water, watch out. They may either not last very long, or contribute to further damaging your skin). At Su, we definitely spin towards green products whenever possible - when the ingredients are good for you and our planet, we all win. We don't want to coerce you into using harmful chemicals - that isn't chic, nor is it good for anybody. But we do want you to know what is, in fact, harmful, and what's just playing games with your wallet via your well-intentioned mind.
When it comes to water, it's important for brands to consider how this ingredient will impact the efficacy and shelf life of green beauty products. Says one formulator, "we don’t use any plain water. We use coconut water, which contains monolaurin, an antiviral, antibacterial and antiprozoal monoglyceride that is used to kill viruses such as HIV, Herpes, cytomegalovirus, flu and various pathogenic bacteria. We also use aloe vera juice and vitalized water, employed as a preservative to help eliminate bacteria and balance pH providing a rich source of minerals. Our traditional ingredients, such as noni and ‘olena (turmeric) make up a good part of our formula and actually act as a natural antioxidants and preservatives. We also use a potent blend of rosemary anti-oxidants, vitamin E, sage, and grapefruit seed co2 from Germany for stability and freshness. We are always learning about other new preservative systems, but for now our third party tests have all come back great, so we are very happy using our unique system.”
So, there you have it. A little bit of a big story, at least.