Are there any safe preservatives?

March 9, 2017

Providing safe products that consumers can use with confidence requires preservatives. However, the concept of preservation is not unique to skin care products.

Zoe Diana Draelos, M.D.Preservatives are ingredients that are generally not nice. Their role in product formulation is to kill fungus and bacteria that might grow in the bottle causing contamination and spoilage. Most skin care products must sit on the shelf for 3-6 months prior to purchase and then sit on the purchaser’s shelf for another year. Providing safe products that consumers can use with confidence requires preservatives. However, the concept of preservation is not unique to skin care products. Even Mother Nature uses preservatives. Methylparaben is found in natural blueberries consumed by humans where it functions as a naturally made antimicrobial to prevent the berries from spoiling. Even plants have parabens to allow their seeds to be spread in a viable form over the earth. Yet, there is no doubt that preservatives can be problematic and should be evaluated for safety on a continuous basis.