How to stabilize elderberry powder in face wash for color

I'm a fairly new formulator and I'm tying to stabilize the purple color of elderberry powder in my face wash formula.  I only use botanical ingredients. My preservative is leucidal sf max which has PH range of 3-8. My face wash is already at PH 5.5.  If I use citric acid to raise the PH will that be less than ideal for usage?


  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    There are three possible reasons that the color of your product is changing over time. (I'm assuming that is what is happening). These include...

    1. Oxidation reaction - Due to free radicals in your formula
    2. UV degradation - Due to light exposure 
    3. Chemical degradation - Due to some chemical reaction with another ingredient in your formula.

    To stop oxidation you need an antioxidant. (e.g. BHT)
    To stop UV degradation you need a UV absorber (and/or an opaque container) - e.g Benzophenone-9 
    To stop chemical degradation you need to remove the chemical that is causing the reaction.

    Without knowing your whole formula there's not much more advice to give about solving the problem.

    But I will add a couple additional comments of which you might not be aware.

    - Leucidal is not a robust preservative. This is especially true if you are using botanical ingredients. It is unlikely your product will be safe to use for any significant length of time.

    - Elderberry powder is not a legal colorant. The FDA strictly limits the colorants allowed in cosmetics. There is a specific list and if the ingredient is not on the list it is illegal to use it for coloring your product. The fact that it is natural is not relevant.

    Now, if you are just using the product for yourself at home it may be fine. Although you really should consider a better preservative. But if you are going to ever attempt to sell the product, you should address those problems now. 
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