Home Cosmetic Science Talk Formulating General 'Broad Spectrum' definition…. is it the same as 'Natural'….undefined?

  • 'Broad Spectrum' definition…. is it the same as 'Natural'….undefined?

    Posted by Graillotion on June 5, 2023 at 12:39 am

    I am preparing to write a informative piece on preservation for a beginner group. I have found what seems to be the root of their problem, when it comes to preservation selection. It lies in the fact….that as far as I can tell….EVERY SINGLE seller/manufacturer, of even the worst preservatives that grace the planet…are advertised as… ‘Broad Spectrum’. Some of these products I would not put up against a breathe mint!

    Their process operates something like this….they survey other beginners….get a recommendation. They go to the vendor or mfg site….read what they have to say…. They read that is broad spectrum… SEARCH IS OVER! They got what they are looking for…one and done….first try! Wow….isn’t the internet and beginner cosmetics sites awesome? (All said tongue in cheek.)

    Unfortunately, the beginners are still at the stage where they think manufacturer propaganda can actually be trusted. They do not realize the descriptions are comedy bits written by the marketing department.

    So what am I missing… is there no definition of broad spectrum, hence it can be used at will? I would like to think…that broad spectrum meant you had control of Gram +, Gram -, and YMF. Clearly this is not the case…as some totally miss Gram -, and some totally miss YMF. Or is the definition of broad spectrum so lax, and the bar so low, that even the breathe mint can achieve it?

    Can anyone tell me what unit of measure the manufacturers are using when they paste the ‘broad spectrum’ label on? As far as I can tell …. every single preservative they sell….no matter how bad it is gets this generous label.


    • This discussion was modified 11 months, 4 weeks ago by  Graillotion.
    PhilGeis replied 11 months, 4 weeks ago 4 Members · 4 Replies
  • 4 Replies
  • gordof

    June 5, 2023 at 1:30 am

    hi Graillotion

    The definition of Broad Spectrum is very lax. It just means that it is not targeting a special family of bacteria or is only effective against one special bacteria. As soon as your Conservation works against any gram + and gram- it is a broad spectrum Conservation system. In that definition is not mentioned how effective it is against either one of the Bacteria types and if it is Targeting all of the Bacteria in that Categorie or just a few. the Systematic in which they work is not Special let’s say for one specific receptor of a bacteria that then block reproduction or anything they work mostly by targeting the general living parts of the bacteria like the Cellmembrane or Watercontet etc.

    Sadly as far as I know there is no hard-line definition for that so you just have to show that it kills different bacteria and you’re good with the claim from a Seller point of few.

    YMF is not included in that Definition sadly or at least the mold and Fungai parts are not because that is not bacteria it’s a fungus and they are not included even if it is one of the most important parts of Product Protection. So a Brod spectrum conservation does not have to work against them at all even if most have some effect on them.

  • Bluebird

    June 5, 2023 at 8:35 pm

    ” I would like to think…that broad spectrum meant you had control of Gram +, Gram -, and YMF. Clearly this is not the case.”

    In microbiology/biological science/healthcare, broad spectrum indeed most often does NOT mean it covers against all of the above.

    For instance, an antimicrobial substance that just kills several species of Gram-negative bacteria will still be defined as a broad host spectrum, unless those species are all very closely related.

    So it is in fact not just cosmetics industry.

    In healthcare, in fact, broad spectrum is not always desirable, and something that kills all of the above categories can be a nightmare that disrupts the microbiome.

    Something like ethanol may be broad spectrum against bacteria and YM for cosmetics. (What is “F” in YMF?)

    In my humble opinion, for cosmetics, “broad spectrum” should be defined specifically with regards to the five challenge test organisms. (E.coli Pseudomonas, Aspergillus, Candida and Staph). That would be so straightforward…

    • This reply was modified 11 months, 4 weeks ago by  Bluebird.
    • Graillotion

      June 5, 2023 at 9:03 pm

      If something were ‘straightforward’ in cosmetics….wouldn’t that almost be grounds for precluding it from cosmetics? 😉😂

      But yes….. the term ‘broad spectrum’ should closely match up with PET testing protocols…in my opinion…as well!

      • This reply was modified 11 months, 4 weeks ago by  Graillotion.
  • PhilGeis

    June 6, 2023 at 6:14 am

    At best “broad spectrum” is based on an existing MIC (at any concentration) for each of the bugs representing the groups: Gram + and -, yeast and molds. While in-formula efficacy data establish practical the definition, we know the mythical creature does not exist - as seen on labels with major brands.

Log in to reply.