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Home Cosmetic Science Talk General “Clean” Preservatives

  • “Clean” Preservatives

    Posted by Joy on December 12, 2022 at 4:42 pm

    Hi everyone,

    I was looking into different “clean”/COSMOS-approved/well-accepted by customers preservatives (they don’t have to be all, this is just to give an idea of the type I am looking for) and found some that I haven’t used and before purchasing and trying myself, I wondered if any of you had experience with them. These are the preservatives I am considering, if you’ve tried any, what are your thoughts on efficacy and ease of use? (They are listed here in no particular order)

    1. Sodium Dehydroacetate - Is this enough as a sole preservative in your experience? Based on a description I read, it seemed like it was good at preventing fungi and bacteria but not necessarily killing what was already there. I’ve seen companies use it as a sole preservative.

    2. Linatural® Ultra-3 - INCI:  Propanediol / Pentylene Glycol / Phenethyl Alcohol. This company says this is an all-natural broad spectrum preservative. I’m very curious if anyone here has tried this for efficacy.

    3. Euxyl® K 900 - INCI: Benzyl Alcohol (and) Ethylhexylglycerin

    4. Euxyl® K 903 - INCI: Benzyl Alcohol (and) Benzoic Acid (and) Dehydroacetic Acid (and) Tocopherol

    I’m also open to other suggestions! Currently I’m using Optiphen Plus, which I like, but due to customer perception of phenoxyethanol, I’m considering something else.

    Thanks!

    OldPerry replied 5 months, 1 week ago 7 Members · 23 Replies
  • 23 Replies
  • PhilGeis

    Member
    December 12, 2022 at 6:45 pm

    1. No.
    2. All natural = BS
    3. No
    4. Maybe

  • Joy

    Member
    December 12, 2022 at 8:37 pm

    PhilGeis said:

    1. No.
    2. All natural = BS
    3. No
    4. Maybe

    Are you able to elaborate a little more? For the no’s, is it that they don’t work at all? Or would work combined? For #2, although they say natural, it seems actually naturally-derived, but regardless, I am not familiar with the efficacy of those ingredients and haven’t found much other than the company’s info.

    Do you have any recommendations for preservatives that do not include parabens, formaldehyde (or donors), nor phenoxyethanol?

  • MarkBroussard

    Professional Chemist / Formulator
    December 12, 2022 at 9:23 pm

    @Joy

    Your best bet of the options you have laid out is to couple Linatural Ultra-3 with Gluconolactone (and) Sodium Benzoate … assuming you are formulating below pH 6.0.

    Or, Linatural Ultra-3 + Chlorphenesin

    Linatural Ultra-3 on its own will not give you sufficient preservation and if you do use it, you’ll need to use it at 2%.

    Q:  Is the “pressure” against Phenoxyethanol coming from your customers or from the retail distribution channel?  If it is from individual customers (general public) and not from retailers, I would stick with Phenoxyethanol.

    Or, perhaps you’re a formulator developing products for clients?  That’s a different situation.

  • Joy

    Member
    December 12, 2022 at 9:30 pm

    @MarkBroussard I think I am leaning towards keeping the phenoxyethanol, but I was hoping maybe there was something that worked great that I had overlooked. 

    Regarding phenoxyethanol, I don’t have any direct pressure currently as the product is not sold yet, but it is for a clean brand and whenever a customer searches for phenoxyethanol online, a ton of articles claiming a bunch of side effects show up. I’ve seen a lot of customers mention they wish to avoid it. But since they also want to avoid all other proven preservatives, it makes it difficult! It’s such a small amount used as well.
  • Joy

    Member
    December 12, 2022 at 9:32 pm

    @MarkBroussard I see that you formulate for natural/clean beauty. Have you experienced push back with phenoxyethanol? And if you are open to sharing, do you use an alternative?

  • PhilGeis

    Member
    December 12, 2022 at 9:33 pm

    @Joy
    I understand many wish to pursue “clean” beauty and natural marketing myths.  Complexity of efficacy in that context  is not satisfied by pointing at a few materials.

    I’m sure some will offer their opinions of effective “clean:” preservatives.  Good luck.

  • MarkBroussard

    Professional Chemist / Formulator
    December 12, 2022 at 9:37 pm

    @Joy

    You are not going to run into any issues with any of the major cosmetic retailers accepting Phenoxyethanol as a preservative, even the Clean Beauty specialty retailers.

  • MarkBroussard

    Professional Chemist / Formulator
    December 12, 2022 at 9:46 pm

    @Joy:

    Yes, but the only retailer that was ever adamant about Phenoxyethanol is Natural Grocers.  If Phenoxy/EHG is an “insurmontable obstacle” for the client, I usually go with:

    Linatural Ultra-3 + Gluconolactone (and) Sodium Benzoate + Capryly Glycol

    Linatural Ultra-3 + Chlorphenesin + Tetrasodium Glutamate Diacetate + Cap Glycol

    And, if the product permits, get the pH down to 4.5

  • Joy

    Member
    December 12, 2022 at 9:56 pm

    @PhilGeis thanks for sharing your knowledge. Honestly, I didn’t have much faith in those options, but hoped I was wrong! Haha

    @MarkBroussard Yea, I will likely continue using it. I’m always interested in other options though if they work well.

  • MarkBroussard

    Professional Chemist / Formulator
    December 12, 2022 at 10:01 pm

    @Joy

    I have not had any issues with the alternatives I mentioned.  But, generally, prefer to start with Phenoxy/EHG + Gluconolactone + Sodium Benzoate if the client is open to it. 

  • Joy

    Member
    December 12, 2022 at 10:49 pm

    @MarkBroussard your previous comment with the combinations mentioned didn’t show up for me when I responded. Thank you for sharing those!

  • Silvia

    Member
    December 14, 2022 at 7:33 am

    Hi, what about O-Cymen-5-ol , does anyone used it as secondary or primary preservative? Or there are too many issues with it?
    Also please tell your opinion about caprylyl glycol + phenethyl alccohol + potassium sorbate? Could be chlorphenesin used single in formulation? 

  • PhilGeis

    Member
    December 14, 2022 at 12:13 pm

    Please remember the objective of preservation is protection in use.  Folks offering no issues for combinations typically do not have data or perspective  in that context.
    Passing USP 51/!SO 11930 is no guarantee of efficacy.

  • MarinaReneia

    Member
    December 16, 2022 at 4:01 am

    Hey there - those are same natural preservatives 

    VERSATIL® TBG MB INCI: Triethyl Citrate, Glyceryl Caprylate, Benzoic Acid 

    Solubility: Insoluble in water pH Stability: 4.0-6.0 Usage Level: 1.0-1.5% Versatil® TBG MB is insoluble in water and requires a solubiliser to incorporate it into water-based products and emulsions. Versatil® TBG MB is effective against Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria and yeast, however it needs to be boosted in its action against mould in order to cover the full spectrum.

    EUXYL® K903 INCI: Benzyl Alcohol, Benzoic Acid, Dehydroacetic Acid, Tocopherol

    Solubility: Limited water solubility pH Stability: 5.0-5.5 Usage Level: 0.4-1.2% Euxyl® K 903 is a liquid preservative for personal care products, with strong, broad-spectrum efficacy against bacteria, yeasts and moulds. This is a very effective preservative at low concentrations for all rinse-off and leave-on products. Since the preservative has lipophilic components, it is not completely water soluble; at 20°C, 100g of water will dissolve 1.2g of Euxyl® K 903. For water-based products, a solubiliser will be required to incorporate it into water, however it is best used in products that contain an oil phase.

    LEUCIDAL® SF MAX INCI: Lactobacillus Ferment 

    Solubility: Water soluble pH Stability: 3.0-8.0 Usage Level: 2.0-4.0% Leucidal® Liquid SF MAX is a probiotic-based ingredient created by the fermentation of Lactobacillus in a defined growth medium. Leucidal® SF MAX provides broad spectrum antimicrobial protection. Leucidal® SF Max can be used in a wide range of cosmetic products, however to ensure optimum results it is recommended that it is incorporated into formulations at a pH between 3 and 8, during the cooling phase of the process at temperatures lower than 70°C.

    SPECTRASTAT™ G2 NATURAL MB INCI: Caprylhydroxamic Acid, Glyceryl Caprylate, Glycerin 

    Solubility: Oil Soluble pH Stability: 4.0-8.0 Usage Level: 1.0-1.5% Spectrastat™ G2 Natural MB is a 100% natural broad spectrum alternative preservation system made from a blend of multi-functional ingredients. It is oil soluble and may be used in emulsion, anhydrous, and surfactant systems.These include creams, lotions, shower gels and make-up. It may be added in the final stage of formulation.

    OPTIPHEN™ BSB-N/ROKONSAL™BSB-N INCI: Benzyl Alcohol, Glycerin, Benzoic Acid, Sorbic Acid 

    Solubility: Miscible in water pH Stability: 2.0-5.4 Usage Level: 0.3-1.0% Optiphen™ BSB-N/Rokonsal™BSB-N is a nature-identical preservative for cosmetics. It is a broad spectrum liquid preservative that is effective against Gram-negative bacteria, yeast and mould. Optiphen™ BSB-N/Rokonsal™BSB-N was specifically designed for formulations with a pH of 2.0- 5.4 due to the presence of organic acids in its system. The lower the pH of the formulation, the better the efficacy of the preservative. It is ECOCERT, COSMOS, NATRUE and BDIH-compliant. Optiphen™ BSB-N/Rokonsal™BSB-N can be used in both O/W and W/O emulsions.

    OPTIPHEN™ BSB-W INCI: Benzyl Alcohol, Aqua, Sodium Benzoate, Potassium Sorbate

    Solubility: Water soluble pH Stability: up to 5.4 Usage Level: 0.3-1.0% Optiphen™ BSB-W is a nature identical preservative for cosmetics, it is broad spectrum protecting against Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria, yeast and mould. It can be selected for natural or organic personal care products. This preservative supports a variety of natural personal care products. It is recommended for use in products with a pH of 5.4 or below. The lower the pH of the formulation, the better the efficacy of the preservative. It is ECOCERT, COSMOS, NATRUE and BDIH-compliant.

  • MarinaReneia

    Member
    December 16, 2022 at 4:01 am

    GEOGARD ULTRA® INCI: Gluconolactone, Sodium Benzoate

    Solubility: Water soluble pH Stability: 3.0-6.0 Usage Level: 0.75-2.0%
    Geogard Ultra® is a synergistic, patented blend designed to provide broad spectrum preservation in personal care and cosmetic formulations. It contributes an added skin moisturisation benefit to the product and conforms with COSMOS, NATRUE and the Soil Association. Geogard Ultra™ will preserve most water-based cosmetic formulations, including shampoos, lotions and creams. It works by slowly releasing gluconic acid over time, which helps contribute to the preservation.

    OPTIPHEN™ BS/ROKONSAL™BS INCI: Sodium Benzoate, Potassium Sorbate 

    Solubility: Water soluble pH Stability: up to 5.4 Usage Level: 0.5-1.5% Optiphen™ BS/Rokonsal™BS is a nature-identical preservative for cosmetics, that offers broad spectrum protection against Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria, yeast and mould. It can be selected for natural or organic personal care products. This preservative supports a variety of natural personal care products. It is recommended for use in products with a pH of 5.4 or below. The lower the pH of the formulation, the better the efficacy of the preservative. It is ECOCERT, COSMOS, NATRUE and BDIH-compliant.

    COSPHADERM® MULTIMEG INCI: Glyceryl Caprylate, Pentylene Glycol, Magnolia Officinalis Bark Extract

    Solubility: Oil/alcohol soluble pH Stability: 3.5-7.5 Usage Level: 1.0-1.4% Cosphaderm® MultiMEG is one of the multifunctionals that combine several properties to boost a formulation in different ways in addition to a high antimicrobial activity. None of these carefully selected substances are listed as preservatives in the EU Cosmetics Regulation, however they show strong efficiency against bacteria, yeast and mould.

    LEXGARD® NATURAL MB INCI: Glyceryl Caprylate, Glyceryl Undecylenate

    Solubility: Insoluble in water pH Stability: 4.0-8.0 Usage Level: 1.0-1.5% Lexgard® Natural MB is an all-natural, multi-functional ingredient system as it also works as an emollient, co-emulsifier and skin re-fatting agent for self-preserving cosmetics. It is primarily effective against bacteria and yeast with some efficacy against mould, therefore it is best to combine it with a stronger yeast and mould agent. Lexgard® Natural MB has a pH range of 4.0-8.0 but has been shown to work best at pH 5.5. It is especially recommended for use in O/W or W/O emulsion systems such as skin care creams and lotions.

    GEOGUARD® ECT/PRESERVATIVE ECO INCI: Benzyl Alcohol, Salicylic Acid, Glycerin, Sorbic Acid

    Solubility: Water soluble pH Stability: 3.0-8.0 Usage Level: 0.6-1.0%
    The Geoguard® ECT/Preservative ECO blend’s novel composition offers broad spectrum protection in a diverse range of products against Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria, yeast and moulds. It is a preservation system that meets the ECOCERT standards and is COSMOS accepted and has a wide range of global regulatory acceptance. It is compatible for use in a wide range of skin care, hair care and sun care systems and has a low odour and excellent safety profile. It is suitable for O/W emulsions, W/O emulsions and anhydrous products.

    DERMOSOFT® 1388 ECO INCI: Glycerin, Aqua, Sodium Levulinate, Sodium Anisate

    Solubility: Water soluble pH Stability: 4.0-5.5 Usage Level: 2.0-4.0%
    Dermosoft® 1388 ECO is a 100% naturally-derived, COSMOS approved ingredient for natural cosmetics. It has very good microbial efficiency against Gram-positive bacteria, Gram-negative bacteria, yeasts and moulds. Dermosoft® 1388 ECO is suitable for all types of emulsions and surfactant-based products; it is also pH sensitive. In emulsions, it has a synergistic boosting effect in combination with antimicrobial surface-active substances such as Dermosoft® GMCY (see above, where we mention preservative boosters) which helps to improve the performance of the preservative.

    Also you need to understand that “clean” beauty is just a marketing shit that someone out there created for they own benefit. Because if you want to put it in more simple way - water is a chemical - so there for you should not use it! LOL

  • Joy

    Member
    December 16, 2022 at 5:14 am

    @MarinaReneia yes, like you said, clean is used for marketing, but I don’t see any “true” clean companies (by true I mean actual companies, not just a hobbist) claiming that clean = no chemicals. Because clean was used to be different from fully natural, which has more of a tendency to claim no chemicals. But clean companies still use synthetics. (And yes, I know everything is a chemical, but you only see the no chemical claims when it comes to natural ingredients).

    For the preservatives you listed, I think many of them aren’t really effective, at least not on their own.

    Thank you everyone for your comments. I will probably continue using phenoxyethanol, or try a combination that @MarkBroussard recommended and test it for efficacy for a while before switching, if I go that route. Part of me wonders if it will simply give customers more “weird names” to worry about since there would be a lot more preservative ingredients, or they may think that phenethyl alcohol is the same thing as phenoxyethanol since they sound similar. So not sure how much it is worth it anyways for something that is only at 0.53%.
  • Graillotion

    Member
    December 16, 2022 at 5:28 am

    Silvia said:

    Hi, what about O-Cymen-5-ol , does anyone used it as secondary or primary preservative? Or there are too many issues with it?
    Also please tell your opinion about caprylyl glycol + phenethyl alccohol + potassium sorbate? Could be chlorphenesin used single in formulation? 

    I use O-Cymen…but not as a sole preservative.  

    It has some nice fits in different places (as a piece). :) 

  • MarinaReneia

    Member
    December 16, 2022 at 9:03 am

    Joy, 
    I’m wonder what’s your definition of “clean”?
    Because as long you have a product that contain water there must be a preservative.
    You say “true clean” - then just make oils mixture, butters, extracts by oil, extracts by vinegar, clays mix, freeze dry powders for plants, fruits and etc… so your “true clean” in this sounds more like raw formulations.  A raw type of cosmetics that no need any type of added synthetic ingredients and maybe to keep it more “clean” don’t use heat - keep it below 45oC
    The preservatives that I listed above are sure accepted in organic skincare. 
    And as there is no such thing as “clean” I believe that one is a list of ingredients that is based on your/ company ethos. I more like in what and in what not do you believe that’s all.
    Organic, Vegan, Halal, Kosher those are companies that are there to regulate and define the meaning. How knows maybe in the future someone out there may come up and define “clean”.
    Until then good luck and happy holidays ahead! 
    Marina

  • Joy

    Member
    December 16, 2022 at 6:17 pm

    @MarinaReneia I didn’t say “true clean”, I said “true” clean companies (by true I mean actual companies, not just a hobbist). Meaning the true applies to company, not to clean. As in an actual company that is clean, not a company that is truly clean, which aren’t the same thing. Even in the comment your are replying to I said clean uses synthetics.

    As for my definition of clean, it is a mix of natural and synthetic ingredients, where certain ones aren’t used. It is somewhere between conventional and natural, and that somewhere depends on basically each company. You can see in my comments that I use phenoxyethanol, so not sure why you assumed I only make “raw” products of oils and vinegars without preservatives, lol. I was literally asking about preservatives.

    The list of preservatives you gave would fit into a clean ingredients list, I never said otherwise. I said that I think many of them aren’t great at preserving, at least not on their own. I definitely won’t be using Leucidal, as it is basically useless, but thanks!

  • MarinaReneia

    Member
    December 19, 2022 at 8:54 am

    Hey @Joy

    I understand what you mean I’m sorry if my english is very bad when is coming to explanation. 
    I’m sorry if I upset you, I was just trying to explain by giving examples.
    Anyhow, yes I agree some natural/organic permitted preservatives are just useless, difficult to work with and very short life. 
    As for “true clean”companies I believer that only when a body regulation will be created then we will all know and understand what the truth of that means. Until then is just a marketing propaganda. 

    Happy holidays!

  • PhilGeis

    Member
    December 19, 2022 at 12:33 pm

    @MariaReneia
    These primarily synthetic, poor to very poor and in one case fake preservative systems are ‘natural” only by the hyped redefinition of the term.
    Please stop buying the hype.

  • PhilGeis

    Member
    December 19, 2022 at 3:42 pm

    @MariaReneia
    and the truth is - this is only a marketing campaign. 
    It’ll be a sad day for science and technology when the regulatory aspects of the industry are so bastardized as to define and legitimatize the mythical “clean”

  • OldPerry

    Professional Chemist / Formulator
    December 19, 2022 at 4:33 pm

    With it being a law pretty much everywhere that it is illegal to sell unsafe cosmetics, ALL legal cosmetics on sale right now are “clean”.