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Are Preservatives in SkinCare Bad for Skin?

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Disclaimer: Please respect intellectual property. This content is originally produced by me. Feel free to share if you find it useful for your loved ones by indicating its source. Do not copy or rephrase and make it your own smile.gif 

You may have heard of both sides of the story:
“Preservatives must be bad for skin. Otherwise, why would countless brands purposely claim that their products are preservative-free?”


“Almost every cosmetic product on the supermarket shelves or in the cosmetic stores is formulated with preservatives. I am personally using products containing preservatives too, and nothing bad happens for my skin. Preservatives are not bad for skin.”

Why Do Cosmetic Products Need Preservatives?
Do note that the title is not about why your skin needs preservatives. Your skin certainly will stay healthy without applying preservatives, but products need preservatives because microbes can grow almost everywhere! And microbes could horribly bring you unpleasant skin diseases later.

Microbes (fungi, yeast and bacteria) are harmless if they present in small quantities. The bad news is that they multiply rapidly under preservative-free condition. On the skin, Candida Albicans (a dimorphic fungus) is responsible for athlete’s foot, and can cause terrible breakouts. Pseudomonas (a bacterium) elicits redness and draining wounds. Not to mention when these microbes from contaminated products unfortunately get passed the skin and into your body, where they could cause all kinds of serious infections and health issues. 

Choosing between preservative-free, or microbe-free, we will certainly go for the latter. 

Do All Products Need Preservatives?
All products need to be free from microbes, but some products naturally inhibit the growth of microbes. Like humans, microbes feed on the same nutrients your skin needs, and survive when there is water. 

Waterless products, such as makeup remover in oils, pure moisturizing facial oils, cleansing powder and the like are natural suppressor for microbes. Bacteria, fungi and yeast could never survive in these conditions or textures, so adding preservatives into these products is unnecessary. These products are truly authentic to use “preservative-free” as their marketing claim. 

Besides pure oil-base products, some products formulated in high concentration of alcohol or solvent (which is extremely irritating) and surfactant (ingredients that do the washing, foaming or emulsifying), are safe without the inclusion of preservatives.

Are Products with Preservatives 100% Safe?
Sadly, not really! Two perspectives to explain this:

i) Types of preservatives incorporated in the product formulas, concentration, pH condition and so on are affecting whether or not the preservatives are sensitizing to your skin. The in-depth knowledge of preservatives deserves a separate writing, we will discuss this in our next post. 

ii) Careless use of products can give birth to microbes, which are detrimental to your skin. Even if a product is well-formulated with the most ideal preservatives, the environment you store your products, and the way you use the products, could degrade the effectiveness of the preservatives, and contribute to the growth of harmful microbes.

Yes, we just mentioned that pure oil-base products need no preservative. But if you store these products under humid condition after you bring it home, the high level of water vapor will get absorbed into the facial oils. Microbes are always happy when they feel moisture, so they could start proliferating. For this reason, you must close your products properly after each use.

That is also why most experts are strongly against the use of jar packaging. Imagine each time you open the lid and use your finger to dip the content, you are transmitting the invisible and detrimental microbes from your finger to your product. 

Aesthetically, jars on the shelves look beautiful and lovely to women, and this gives idea for marketing people to package products in jars to lure women into purchasing the products. But honestly, jar packaging is never the cleanest and safest method of accommodating skincare ingredients.

We know some high-end creams in jars now come with a spatula. But if you were to cleanse and sterilize the spatula inconveniently after each use, why not choose products packaged differently, or not-microbe-friendly?

In conclusion, avoid jar-packaged products, and never get terrified when you see preservatives. They are there to prevent something bad from happening on your skin. 

Your Sharing: Are You More Inclined to Buying Products Without Preservatives? Why or why not?


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