Where does one even begin to understand preservatives in skin care? Using the Google is often not very helpful since there is so much conflicting information out there and thousands of alarmist websites that make you feel like using anything but plain water on your skin is going to give you terminal cancer.

The first thing to understand is that most skin care products require preservatives of some kind. They prevent bacteria and mould from growing for a certain amount of time, as they have been known to cause irritation, allergies and skin sensitivities. This is a good thing since sometimes a product can live on a shop shelf for a few weeks or months before it finds itself a good home.

It can be daunting to really figure out which ones are good and which ones are bad, and to make it even more complicated, some companies use the worst of the worst, some claim to be preservative-free, some use natural products and synthetic preservatives, and then there are the ones that go completely au-natural.

Synthetic preservative options are in abundance and were generally adopted by most companies because they were cheap and did the job. The amount of preservatives used in a product is usually low enough to not cause any problems. What was not accounted for is the number of different products us humans end up putting in contact with our bodies. We lather on moisturiser, body wash, shampoo and conditioners, makeup, sunscreen and the list goes on. This means that the unnatural preservatives can build up over time. So why do you want to stay away from synthetic preservatives? As time has gone one, science has been able to show us that they’re linked to health issues including reproductive toxicity, endocrine disruption, skin irritation and even cancer. Need we say more?

Ingredients to look out for: Parabens (Butylparaben, Methylparaben and Propylparaben..some of which have now been banned in the EU) Formaldehyde Releasers (DMDM Hydantoin, Bronopol, Glyoxal). Phenoxyethanol.

Luckily, it's not all doom and gloom. As demand increases, so does the option of natural preservatives. Staying away from the synthetic preservatives that keep popping up in the news for their detrimental long-term health effects is one of the reasons people have been looking for better products made from better ingredients and switching over to natural skin care. Naturally so, customers want to feel confident knowing that what they use on their skin isn’t affecting their health negatively. And another thing that customers are getting increasingly concerned about is the effect that products we use have on the environment.

At MooGoo, we’ve spent a lot of time looking into the natural preservation systems available, and developing the ones we use, which of course align with our ingredients philosophy of being edible, natural and non-irritating. After a lot of trial and error, we now use a Hops Extract (think hops in beer) which is also used in a lot of foods such as Apple Juice. All of the creams we make use this preservation system and have all pasted preservative testing, so we're very happy with that. The things about Hops is that it comes with an earthy smell. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing but some people aren't used to it and sometimes ask us if their product has gone off. Most commercial creams are packed with a synthetic fragrance that makes them smell like a bathtub full of roses or a citrus fruit juice. 

Now let’s discuss “100% preservative-free”. Well, this sounds great, doesn’t it? But we can assure you, it can be the complete opposite. If it’s oil-based product then that’s fine as oils don’t usually provide the conditions necessary for bacteria, yeast and fungus to proliferate (fancy word for increase in numbers), but if its water-based product, then we think that the brand isn’t exactly being honest or doesn’t have enough knowledge about preservatives. A cream without preservatives is cream with mould, bacteria, and microbial growth. Ewww! Might be one way to describe it.

We used to get asked all the time why we used preservatives in general? Why couldn't we make it preservative-free? Or why didn't we use Grapefruit Seed Extract or another "organic" preservative? We found ourselves constantly explaining that natural products like ours are food for bacteria and some bacteria like Staphylococcus Aureus are far more dangerous in skin care than even the worst preservative. That is why we need to use a genuine preservative of some kind, because an un-preserved cream is a recipe for disaster, literally. If you have the time and the patience to make your own skin care at home, you will find out very quickly how fast it will go off, just like the fruits in your fruit bowl.

Still scratching your head about Preservatives? Feel free to contact us at info@moogoo.com.au with any questions you may have still, we would love to answer them.