Non-Irritating Preservatives

Hi everyone,

I am looking for a broad spectrum preservative that I can use for lotion and cream emulsions that have a pH range of 4-4.5. I tried using Optiphen plus (phenoxyethanol, caprylyl glycol, sorbic acid), but noticed that it severely irritated my skin. I made a small batch without the preservative, applied it and noticed that I did not get any burning sensations like I did when I added the preservative. 

I would really appreciate suggestions on preservatives that can be purchased by home crafters and can be used in emulsions within a 4-6 pH range. I would prefer to stay away from phenoxyethanol, dehydroacetic acid, and anything with parabens. 

I have been looking at phenylpropanol EHG (phenylpropanol and ethylhexylglycerin) on Making Cosmetics and Euxyl K900 (Benzyl alcohol and ethylhexylglycerin) on Lotion Crafters. Any thoughts on these?

Any suggestions will be very much appreciated! 


  • zeteinzetein Member
    But parabens are non-irritating, and there's really nothing wrong using them.
    Ethylhexylglycerin along with mid-chain glycols are known to tingle, so maybe they aren't great choices, if that's what you have experienced...
  • SasseSasse Member
    @zetein Thank you so much for your reply, but I’d still rather not use parabens. That’s interesting about ethylhexylglycerin, thanks for letting me know! 
  • SasseSasse Member
    Please, any more broad spectrum preservative suggestions will be appreciated! 
  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    There really aren't any if you're not willing to use parabens or phenoxyethanol or other chemically sounding preservatives like Methylisothiazolinone, DMDM Hydantoin or Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate. 

    There is a reason industry uses parabens. It's because they work, they aren't irritating, they don't destabilize emulsions and they don't usually cause allergic reactions. If there was some simple replacement, industry would have switched to them long ago.

    New preservatives that are out aren't effective or cause irritation issues. 

  • SasseSasse Member
    edited August 11
    Thank you for your reply @Perry! Yes, that makes a lot of sense. 
    I guess what I want to know is if those two preservatives I listed above will be effective in a pH range of 4-6. I read that the preservatives are suitable in a pH of up to 12. 
    I know one cannot really tell if a preservative will be effective until a microbial test is conducted, but I would like to know if it will just be a waste of time trying to include it in this pH range. 
  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    Yes, theoretically, those ones you listed could work at a pH range 4-6 (although you should stay closer to pH 5 or below for Benzyl alcohol.)
  • SasseSasse Member
    Thank you so much @Perry for all your input! 
  • Another decent option is germall plus. No parabens :)
  • SasseSasse Member
    Thank you! @ngarayeva001
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