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Preservatives in cosmetics – are they really harmful?

It is believed that preservatives in cosmetics can negatively affect our skin. But… is it true? Let’s check what preservatives actually are, how they work and whether they really affect the skin.

What are preservatives?

Preservatives are synthetic ingredients that prevent spoilage and prolong the shelf life of the products. Preservatives are added to prevent the growth of bacteria, viruses and fungi. The most popular preservatives are formaldehyde and parabens, but there are also natural preservatives (vegetable oils, plant extracts, colloidal silver).

Preservatives in cosmetics – application

They play very important roles, as they:

  • prolong the shelf life,
  • prevent the growth of bacteria,
  • prevent spoilage of ingredients,
  • suppress mold, fungi and bacteria growth,
  • they prevent irritations and allergic reactions.

Preservatives – the most important features

In order for a preservative to be used in a cosmetic product, it must meet the following features:

  • be non-toxic;
  • do not cause irritation or allergies;
  • demonstrate a broad antimicrobial effect;
  • act in low concentrations;
  • easily dissolve in water;
  • do not interact with other ingredients of the product.

Irritations caused by preservatives

It is often emphasized that preservatives are safe for our health, but it is a fact that they can irritate the skin even in small quantities. Those substances can cause the following effects: skin dryness, peeling skin, irritant contact dermatitis,  systemic adverse reactions, allergy in the eye area.

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