Comparatively Speaking: Cosmetic Preserv

10 May

Comparatively Speaking: Cosmetic Preservatives

By: Anthony J. O’Lenick, Jr., Siltech, LLC

Posted: April 20, 2010

page 3 of 4

Organic Acids and Others
Various other compounds are used as preservatives but all face some limitations not experienced to the same extent as the previous ingredients discussed. Some of the most important include: sodium benzoate, chloracetamide, triclosan and iodopropynyl butylcarbamate. Pyridine derivatives like sodium pyrithione and zinc pyrithione are used to kill the bacteria that causes dandruff.

More than any other ingredient, preservatives are considered by consumers to be the worst ingredients cosmetic chemists can use in formulas. Most, who know nothing about chemistry, have heard about the “evil” parabens and formaldehyde.

Preservatives are designed to kill cells. That is why they are effective. Unfortunately, that is also why they are potentially hazardous. They do not easily discriminate between good human cells and bad microbial cells but ultimately, the risk from using preservatives is significantly lower than that of using unpreserved cosmetics. There are safe levels of “toxic” chemicals. All chemicals can be deadly if one is exposed to high enough levels. How many people die from water exposure (e.g., drowning)?

Remember, it’s the dose that matters!

To be sure, research is ongoing in the field of preservatives since many materials previously deemed safe have been reclassified as hazardous. Suppliers who can come up with even safer preservatives will likely make a lot of money. Hopefully they will do it soon, as there is a great need for new and promising materials.

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