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Natural Product Ingredients - Preservatives

October 17, 2018


My bugbear this week is ingredient listings.


Don’t you hate it when the chemicals in your skin care, shampoos, conditioners, household cleaning products and pet products are impossible to pronounce or worse, not even listed? To me, it always makes me wonder what exactly is in the products, and if I buy a product that says it’s natural, is it really natural. What complicated processes, chemical or otherwise have been used to produce the ingredient, even though it says derived from Coconuts or herbs? Are they as dangerous as they sound? Will they hurt me, my family, my pets, or the environment?

For any product for human use, the ingredient list must be on the label, with few exceptions, like Perfume (I think ingredients should be on perfume, but I don’t make the rules). You may get the active ingredient or the fragrance highlighted and nothing else. This also seems to be the case for many companies that make Natural products for our home, our pets, car and garden. I ask myself, why do companies that say they make natural and/or organic products not list ingredients they use? Are they hiding something or they don’t know what is really in their products or worse, they think people who buy their products don’t care?


So, yes we are a manufacturer and we list the ingredients for all our products on their label, we care what goes into our products and hope people who buy them do as well – do the products you use list all the ingredients? Maybe you don’t care, but if you buy Natural or Organic, you probably do.


First off the list is Preservatives. Why preservatives first? No preservative, no product or a product that will only last a few days, which is ok if you are going to use it straight away and live near the place that makes it, otherwise after about a week all you will have is some moldy stuff that you need to throw out.


Natural and/or organic products should only use preservatives that have been certified for use with natural/organic products or the products made is not really natural and certainly not organic. So, I put together a list. There are a few organizations around that certify ingredients, so if the product (like a shampoo) itself is not certified as natural/organic, the ingredients should be certified for use in natural/organic products.


The international organic inspection and certification body, approves a number of preservatives:


Cosmos (Cosmetic Organic Standard)
The standard that is used by a number of European organic labels. Quite a few organic labels use ingredients that are approved by Cosmos, including ACO (Australian Certified Organic)


ACO (Australian Certified Organic)
Used in Australia, mostly for fruit, veg, but also skin care, household cleaners, etc.


Preservative info


Preservative Trade Name  Glyceryl Caprylate

INCI Name*                        Glyceryl Caprylate

Origin                                  Natural, plant based

Comment                           Glyceryl Caprylate comes from glycerine and caprylic acid that serve as an emulsifier and skin conditioning agents on their own. Both are derived from palm or coconut oil (caprylic acid is also found in Goats milk).
It is Ecocert certified and we use from non-Palm sources

Preservative Trade Name  Naticide

INCI Name*                       Parfume

Origin                                 Nature, with an aroma

Comment                           Vegetable-based fragrance, it smells a bit like vanilla and almonds, but also acts as a preservative. If you don’t see anything that looks like a preservative on your lotions and potions, the manufacturer may be using Naticide and using the name Parfume. Confusing, isn't it?
It is approved for use in organic skincare by ACO.


Preservative Trade Name  Phenethylalcohol

INCI Name*                        Phenethyl Alcohol

Origin                                 Natural – from Roses

Comment                           Phenethyl Alcohol occurs naturally. It is produced by microorganisms, plants, and animals and has been found in a number of natural essential oils, in food, spices and tobacco, and also in un-distilled alcoholic beverages, beers and wines.
It is Ecocert certified



Preservative Trade Name  Plantaserv D

INCI Name*                       Sodium Levulinate, Sodium Anisate, P Anisic Acid

Origin                                 Natural

Comment                           A mix of a few certified preservatives that are also listed somewhere in this list
It is Ecocert certified


Preservative Trade Name  Plantaserv C

INCI Name*                       Sodium Levulinate, Sodium Anisate

Origin                                 Natural and suitable for OFC and Eco Certification

Comment                           A mix of a few certified preservatives that are also listed somewhere in this list
It is Ecocert certified

Preservative Trade Name  Plantaserv E

INCI Name*                        Phenethylalcohol, Ethylhexylglcerin

Origin                                 Semi Natural

Comment                           Phenethylalcohol, not natural, as detailed below.
Ethylhexylglcerin is a relatively new chemical on the market (compared to parabens). Many companies are using it as an alternative to parabens and claim that it is from natural sources.  Yes, it did start off as grain/animal fat/oil/vegetable oil, but it has gone through many chemical processes to become what it is.  This is not the worst ingredient in the world, but it is also not truly natural, and there is little safety data for this ingredient. There are only four studies or reviews published. 
Studies have found it to be a skin irritant and eye irritant, even at low concentrations, so people with sensitive skin may experience contact dermatitis

Preservative Trade Name  Plantaserv M

INCI Name*                        Benzyl Alcohol, Salicylic Acid

Origin                                 Semi Natural, cannot be used in Organic Formulations

Comment                           Not permitted in products for children under 3

Preservative Trade Name Plantaserv N

INCI Name*                      Glyceryl Caprylate, Glyceryl Undecylenate

Origin                                Natural

Comment                          It is Ecocert certified

Preservative Trade Name  Plantaserv P

INCI Name*                        Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol

Origin                                 Synthetic,

Comment                           Synthetic, cannot be used in Organic Formulations

Preservative Trade Name  Plantaserv S

INCI Name*                        Multiple plant and herb extracts – Lavender, Limon, Thyme, Cinnamon, Rosemary, to name a few

Origin                                 Natural

Comment                           Each individual ingredient is Ecocert certified

Preservative Trade Name  Potassium Sorbate

INCI Name*                        Potassium Sorbate

Origin                                  A natural organic compound found in the berries of the mountain ash. It acts as a preservative in foods, drinks, dietary supplements, personal care products, and cosmetics.

Comment                           ACO and Ecocert certified. We stopped using this many years ago, because many  people find in very initiating on their skin, but does not seem to be an issue in drinks and food. 

Preservative Trade Name  Sodium Benzoate

INCI Name*                        Sodium Benzoate. Known as E211 Food Additive


Comment                           Safe for use in cosmetics, but subject to concentration or use limitations
Ecocert, Cosmos and Natrue certified. Can we very irritating for sensitive and even not so sensitive skin.


Preservative Trade Name  Sodium Hydroxymethylglycinate

INCI Name*                        Sodium Hydroxymethylglycinate

Origin                                  Synthetic, cannot be used in Organic Formulations. Formaldehyde releasing

Comment                            Yes, it’s a mouthful. Quite often touted as a “natural preservative" or it's a gentle preservative based on natural amino acid glycine. Some have claimed that it's safer and better than parabens because it won't release formaldehyde. but it does. There is even a limit to how much can be added to formulation, due to the amount of Formaldehyde that will be released (I’m not dead yet, so I’m not keen on being preserved with Formaldehyde).





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