A press release from Organic Monitor has revealed a growth in popularity for cosmetic products labelled as “paraben-free”. In its new Technical Insights report, OrganicMonitor finds the move to new alternative preservative systems is driven by high consumer demand for natural and organic cosmetics as well as the growing trend of formulators avoiding parabens.
Parabens are the most widely used preservatives, present in thousands of personal care products that include moisturisers, shampoos, toothpastes, lubricants, and gels. However, a growing number of formulators are avoiding them because of possible safety concerns. Although not scientifically proven, there is a belief that parabens may be linked to breast cancer. The French and Danish governments are considering a ban on parabens in cosmetic products because of these possible links and it is these possible bans that have led to meaning cosmetic companies looking for alternatives.
According to Judi Beerling, technical director at Organic Monitor, “many companies are using preservative systems that comprise multifunctional natural ingredients”. By using such ‘synergistic blends’, the material has anti-microbial properties whilst not having to be registered as a preservative with the respective authorities. Examples of such preservative systems include blended botanical extracts and spice extracts.”
Natural and organic products have traditionally used natural preservatives like grapefruit seed extract, however new materials and technologies are gaining acceptance.
Another development is self-preservation techniques, with some methods originating from the food industry. Hurdle technology involves creating hurdles to block growth of micro-organisms in cosmetic formulations; for instance, using materials that reduce the pH of the formulation. Some companies are adding emollients with membrane-disrupting properties in cosmetic formulations, while others are boosting natural preservative systems by the use of chelating agents or a glycol.
There are still a number of issues that need to be addressed when it comes to creating natural and organic products. One of the key factors preventing the widespread use of alternative preservatives is that synthetic preservatives are more cost-effective but the recent launch of a number alternative ingredients at global trade show In-cosmetics has shown that the industry is taking note of what the consumer wants and developing raw materials to address these concerns.