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Everything you need to know about preservatives in skincare products

Updated: Jul 3

Why do we need preservatives in skincare?

Have you ever noticed how the first ingredient in almost EVERY skincare product will be Aqua, aka Water? Because most skincare products contain water, preservatives become essential to prevent microbial contamination due to growth of yeasts, mould and bacteria (Source: Formula Botanica)

natural skincare ingredients placed on a wooden counter

At MotherEarth's Beauty, whilst we cannot eliminate preservatives from our skin and haircare products entirely, we understand that preservatives feel like added 'fluff' to products, and what you are really after is the active botanical ingredients that are really going to work on your skin. That's why we limit our use of preservatives by using hydrosols instead of water in our skincare products.

A hydrosol is the aromatic floral water that remains after steam distilling or hydro-distilling botanical ingredients such as fresh flowers, leaves, fruits, and other plant materials (Source: Healthline) The steam distillation process makes hydrosols less prone to microbial contamination which means we are able to use less preservative than you would for water-based skincare. For example, we use rose hydrosol in our Magical Mist Pollution Defence face mist, and Glow Me moisturiser. The use of such floral hydrosols not only means that we are able to have a larger percentage of active ingredients in our skincare products, but also gives our product range the aromatherapy benefits and the anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory benefits of rose hydrosol.

Yet, because freshly distilled hydrosols have a pH between 4.5-5.5 they do not have fully self preserving status and therefore need some preservatives. That's why we opt for a natural preservative that uses a non-paraben, non-formaldehyde, non-isothiazolone based preservative system.

Can you avoid preservatives entirely in natural skincare products?

If you are looking for entirely preservative free skincare, then you are limited to using products with only anhydrous formulations, i.e those that don’t require a preservative; such as face oils, body butters and balms. Anhydrous products usually do not need preservatives simply because they are not water based and therefore not prone to microbial contamination.

At MotherEarth's our night face oil, Pigment Perfect and our multi-purpose hands, lips and feet balm, Beauty Balm are your ideal options for preservative free beauty products.


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