Skin care ingredients are forever under scrutiny, many love the organic, natural ingredients – myself included. The problem is when there is any product containing water there has to be a preservative to prevent bacterial growth and pathogens. Water based products allow water soluble ingredients work at their best. Green based skincare companies tend to use oil based ingredients including wheatgerm and Rosemary, that mimic a preservative, however cosmetic chemists do not recognise them as a preservative, they only deem them as an anti oxidant, especially in a water based product. They do not have a full spectrum of protection against bacterial growth.
Parabens, love em, hate em or be indifferent, many skincare companies have stopped including them in their formulations because of the possible toxic affects they may have. I have always stated I will not use products containing them and I stand by that, I also state that what I write is my opinion only, but there are many well respected brands that do use parabens, there are huge debates on pro and cons of using them in formulations, make sure you do your own research and make your own educated choices. So parabens, in the most have been removed but there is still a need for a preservative in these water based products, enter Phenoxyethanol.
Phenoxyethanol replace parabens, it is deemed a safe ingredient to use in skincare, under 1% by the CIR (cosmetic Ingredient Review). Now, here is where some people get on their high horse and scream ‘it’s a chemical! a synthetic ingredient!’ and yes in high doses it can be toxic BUT can’t almost everything? Lets get this in perspective, first everything has a chemical compound even natural, organic substances. This ingredient has excellent stabilizing qualities and prevents the growth of bacteria, toxins and pathogens in a product when used in doses under 1%. It has to co-exist with other ingredients to allow efficacy of a water based product.
Think of it like living in a beautiful tree lined street where the houses are impeccable with white picket fences and stunning gardens. In this street, families that co-exist in harmony, they live in harmony because at the end of the street lives a man who patrols the street and keeps the thieves and vandals out. Now he has the potential to be grumpy or rude to the neighbors but because of him the street is safe. If, however there was many men like him in the street, it would be oppressive and a miserable place to live, but the one man is tolerated by the others because by living with him they have a lovely, safe place to live – it is a trade off.
Yes, there are some nasty ingredients to watch out for but look at the bigger picture of some and remember as stated above even natural ingredients in specific doses will have negative toxic affects – essential oils included.
My final point is that each and every one of us are unique beings that absorb things at different rates and have reactive skins from many, many factors not just topical ingredients alone. You have to understand the reason why we have to have preservatives. Phenoxyethenol is in three of my products because they are water based – Goji Mallow Cleanser, Hydr8 Misting Veil and Reson8 the others are oil based or powders without the need for preservative.