Why Use Preservatives?

January 26, 2016

We are in a culture where the term “all natural” gets tossed around quite a bit, but what does that mean? It is supposed to mean that all of the elements used to create the product have been derived from nature. But what if you don’t want everything that nature has to offer?  Along with beautiful botanicals, plant oils, and essential oils, nature gives us bacteria (the featured image), mold, fungus, viruses and all other nasties. This is part of nature.

As Bath, Body, and Candle Moments prepares for its reopening, we have been evaluating our formulas, especially for our scrubs. There is a debate about concentrated (which means all oil-based; or made without water) formulas. It’s true that bacteria and mold are unhappy in a concentrated environment, and usually won’t grow in such conditions, but what about people who leave their scrubs in the shower? Or who use their wet hands to scoop out the scrub? Bacteria and mold LOVE water, and they thrive in this environment, so we started thinking…maybe it would be the safest option to include a preservative in our scrubs, so people can rest-assured that the nasties-of-nature won’t be growing in their luxurious scrub. After all, who wants to wash his/her face with mold and bacteria? Count me out!

So we have decided that Optiphen would be the best solution to preserve our scrubs. Optiphen, in particular, is a paraben and formaldehyde-free preservative that is necessary to prevent the growth of bacteria, mold, and other nasties in the scrub. Without it, it’ll only be a short amount of time before horrible things start growing. It’s better to have .5% (such a small amount!) of a preservative in a scrub rather than a lot more of something gross rubbed all over your skin.

Optiphen is comprised of Phenoxyethanol and Caprylyl Glycol. You may find a lot of half-hearted science on the web explaining that Phenoxyethanol is dangerous, but if you read closely, this is usually used in amounts of full strength or high-dose exposures, not nearly anywhere the recommended usage of 1% (and we only use .5% in our formulation!).

A great example of how this works comes from the Honestly Blog:

It’s all about the final formulation. Think of it like a cupcake recipe. You wouldn’t want to eat a mouthful of salt, or raw egg, or flour, or probably any other ingredient that goes into a cupcake. (Not only would it taste disgusting, eating a bunch of salt or raw eggs could make you sick!) But mixed in just the right amounts, baked just the right way, a cupcake is divine. That’s the magic of chemistry! Product formulations work the same way.

As for Caprylyl Glycol: Glycols are known to be antimicrobial and show antimicrobial efficacy against typical germs found in cosmetic formulations. It’s a mild humectant and skin emollient with a unique skin feel and also improves efficacy of traditional cosmetic preservatives, which means, it helps make the Phenoxyethanol more effective and leaves the skin feeling soft, supple, and hydrated.

Interested in a little more information? We always buy our Optiphen from Brambleberry, which is hailed as one of the most reputable suppliers in the United States. Anne-Marie Faiola, the Soap Queen, talks more about preservatives in her Talk-it-Out-Tuesday blog.

We understand the concern over “preservative free” and “all natural,” but as much as we love nature (which is why we’re a strictly vegan company), we also understand that above all, consumer safety is our number one priority. Nature is great, but with a little help from science, it’s perfect.




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