Media pressure leads to a further reduction in available preservatives

GigglesGiggles Member
edited December 2013 in Formulating

Less than 90 days after the BBC Watchdog programme ran an article on reactions to cosmetic products containing MI preservative. The industry responds by a recommendation to discontinue the use of MI in leave-on products.



  • BobzchemistBobzchemist Member, PCF student
    I can see this getting to a point where we will have to require a "keep refrigerated" warning on all cosmetic and personal care items.

    For some reason, the public just does not understand that unpreserved and under-preserved products go bad just like food does...
    Robert Zonis, Sr. Formulation Chemist, Beaumont Products "All opinions and comments expressed are my own, have no relation to Beaumont Products, are fully copyrighted, and may not be used without written permission."
  • pmapma Member
    edited December 2013
    Anyway, I'm not a big of MIT. Studies show it causes much more allergic reactions than parabens. 

    IMO the best preservatives still are parabens (generalizing). I love parabens: very low level of skin irritations and allergies, inexpensive, safe, effective etc. 

  • Chemist77Chemist77 Member, PCF student
    Good point that but recently we had a full fledged attack on parabens for disrupting hormones and so on and so forth, what next??????
  • We can't use parabens because of customers.. so we use MIT. And now, I have to find something else...  argh !
  • Chemist77Chemist77 Member, PCF student
    How about putting a label on the products requesting the microbes for a no-entry ;-) 
  • DuncanDuncan Member, Professional Chemist
    @Robert considering I've had customer returns that are way past the regular shelf life (Oldest one was 15 years old) it may be a bit of a job there chap
    UK based, Over 20 years in Toiletries, After a 5 year sabbatical doing cleaning products, back in the land of Personal Care
  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    It's a sad day when companies start giving up perfectly fine preservatives because they think consumers want them to.
  • @Perry Do you think companies are mistaken in thinking consumers will fail to scrutinize reports like these and stop buying products with MIT in them?
  • Does anyone have any suggestions for a suitable alternative? i.e. cheap? 
  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    @Bati - Yes, I think companies are mistaken.  In fact, most companies still use parabens and most consumers have no idea what they are nor do they care.  Lead in lipstick stories haven't scared people away from buying lipsticks and stories like this one will not scare consumers away from buying cosmetics with standard preservatives in them.

    Marketers react out of laziness and fear.  That is what is sad.  Good marketers don't let consumers tell them what they want, they tell consumers what they should buy.

    @Sarah - see another thread in this forum for a discussion on alternatives
  • The probleme is, I agree that consumers don't really cares about paraben. But, companies buying our products (not the final consumers then), always want the "without paraben" written... 
  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    Ah yes, that is a problem.
  • @Perry - I would have to say I agree with you in principle. Companies and the marketing teams that direct them should place a larger emphasis on educating the public, rather than propagating false information. And I also think you hit the nail on the head. Marketers are lazy. They would rather kowtow to NGO's and the pseudo/non-scientists spreading misinformation. 

    What is your opinion regarding this topic as it pertains to innovation? Obviously, with companies formulating out of various "objectionable" preservatives, raw material suppliers are trying to come up with new options. Do you think there is still room for innovation in the field of preservation, or has everything in preservation technology been accomplished?
  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    While it would be nice if marketing groups tried to educate consumers I don't think it is really their role.  They are trying to get people to purchase products.  Education needs to be up to the school system, the media and independent sites like this one.  Unfortunately, we do not put enough emphasis in school on teaching critical thinking skills.

    As far as innovation goes, there are two effects this has.  First, it will force cosmetic chemists to be more innovative in the way they create their products.  Just forcing people to find alternatives of things that work perfectly well is a good way to spark innovation.  However, it will be much more difficult to innovate in the cosmetic industry because of bans on animal testing and a lack of adequate safety testing replacements.  Also, the substitute ingredients will have much less safety data behind them than the current preservatives.  

    I think what will happen is that there will be such an increase in the amount of cases of contamination that regulations will start to require specific preservatives.  And big companies who start banning specific ingredients without good scientific rationale will find that the big manufacturers use alternative means of product distribution.
  • In a previous life, I worked for a company supplying food products to supermarkets. Much of what was bought wasn't so much because customer demand, but more by what supermarkets telling customers what they sell and then telling the manufacturers what the 'customer wants'. Often the two are totally different.

    I have seen similar trends in the dietary supplement industry - the manufacturers tell customers what they want - unless perhaps the miracle ingredient was featured on Dr Phil - and then everything is reactionary (I have seen products on the shelf within 2 weeks of Dr Phil shows).

    I guess it is the same with cosmetic industry.

    Trouble is, there is so much misinformation out there and if anyone mentions "Cancer" associated with any ingredient, whether proven or not, there is pressure against that ingredient.
  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    I can verify that big box stores like Walmart and Target have a big say in what type of personal care product gets launched.  At my former company, nearly 40% of sales came from Walmart.  So, if Walmart didn't take our new product offering it would automatically fail in the marketplace.  Therefore, when Walmart said they wanted something done a certain way, we almost invariably did it.
  • Here is a company taking their marketing to a whole new sector- (pregnancy safe products) protecting unborn babies from all the "chemicals" in personal care products.  I'd love for the Beauty Brains to discuss that one!

    And of course on their hit list are preservatives.  How do small companies using conventional ingredients compete with these scare tactics?
  • Bill_TogeBill_Toge Member, Professional Chemist
    edited January 2014
    the difference between this and the paraben debacle is that it's not just a product of post-normal science and media fearmongering; it's been prompted by an actual increase in dermatitis and contact allergies

    if you want the third degree, the European Scientific Comittee for Consumer Safety has reviewed the data and published an opinion last month, which is open for comments till February 17th:

    brief summary - their conclusion that MIT was safe for use in
    leave-on products was made in good faith, but it turns out it was based on faulty data; however, using an MCIT/MIT blend in rinse-off products at <= 15 ppm is still OK
    UK based formulation chemist. Strongest subjects: hair styling, hair bleaches, hair dyes (oxidative and non-oxidative) I know some stuff about: EU regulations, emulsions (O/W and W/O), toothpaste, mouthwash, shampoos, other toiletries
  • Bill_TogeBill_Toge Member, Professional Chemist
    edited January 2014
    @jakapiggy looks like they're using glucose oxidase as a preservative... wonder what they'd say if they found out it works by releasing hydrogen peroxide!
    UK based formulation chemist. Strongest subjects: hair styling, hair bleaches, hair dyes (oxidative and non-oxidative) I know some stuff about: EU regulations, emulsions (O/W and W/O), toothpaste, mouthwash, shampoos, other toiletries
  • Regarding consumers and that lack of understanding, I will share a funny story with everyone, if they dont mind.

    In Japan, their is a big group of consumers who want all things 'natural'. I was staying with a woman who asked me to go to the store and buy some Apple Juice for her. She was too weak to go for herself, for she felt sick from a night out with her girlfriends. I asked her what she had consumed the night before that might of made her sick and she said: 

    'Nothing. I only had dinner and some alcohol.'

    Sidenote: In Japan, alcohol is consumed in heavy quantities and almost everyone of an adult age drinks on a regular basis - 2 or more drinks per week.
    Anyways, I came back from the store after having bought her a bottle of Apple Juice, and when she took it from me to read the label of ingredients, she said:

    'I cant drink this. It has additives in it'. 

    I said: 

    'Well, if you feel that alcohol is safe to consume, I dont think anything in this apple juice is worth worrying about.'

    To make a long story short, I ended up having to consume all the Apple Juice myself as she refused to touch it.  She continued to drink alcohol during my stay, but would lecture me on the dangers of the additives in the Apple Juice.

    Again, when I questioned the alcohol she was drinking over the Apple Juice I was drinking, she said that beer and wine were healthy, unlike the additives in the Apple Juice.
  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    lol - People like that are incredibly frustrating.  And sadly, very common even here in the US.
  • I read a Wiki article regarding parabens the other day and it mentioned that one would have to be exposed to 25,000 times the amount of parabens regularly found in products for it to even register as a concern. And even then, the estrogenic effects experienced by the body at that 25,000 times greater level would still be 100,000 times less than one would experience taking estradiol. And, the article stated, estradiol is already 10 times stronger than estrone, the sex hormone produced by the body, naturally. So, in essence, it is next to impossible to experience any negative estrogenic effects from being exposed to parabens in everyday consumer products.  Here is the excerpt from Wiki:

    Yet, when you look at products such as YES lubricant, they mention how their 'natural' lube is paraben free and how, as a result, consumers can avoid the 'dangers' of the preservative.

    Yes actually uses Phenoxyethanol, but then they go after parabens as being a 'no-no'.

    In general, when scientists lab test products, they test to unreasonable levels - to the extreme. 
    And to that, I contest anything to the extreme is dangerous. For instance, take WATER.  If a human were to drink only 20 times the daily recommend intake of water, they would certainly become ill and most likely die as a result. Think about that again. Water, which is crucial to our survival as human beings - if consumed in slightly elevated amounts - can kill a human being. Can you imagine the warning labels on a bottle of water if it were treated in the same way as a cosmetic products is:

    Caution: Do Not Consume more than 4 bottles per day

    Too much intake can result in frequent urination, cramping, reflux and a decrease in vital nutrient absoption. Excessive amounts can also result in intoxication and death. Call 911 and seek help immediately if you feel you have been exposed to high levels of water. 

  • Sorry. Forgot to include wiki article link:

  • Bill_TogeBill_Toge Member, Professional Chemist
    edited January 2014
    @mikebavington the best thing about those studies, and something the SCCS picked up on in their most recent review, is that the parabens were introduced subcutaneously (i.e. they were injected underneath the skin), meaning that the subjects were exposed to parabens in a manner not at all consistent with the general public's exposure to cosmetics

    they also found that parabens ingested or absorbed through the skin via exposure to cosmetics were rendered non-oestrogenic within 15-30 minutes in adults, and were rapidly excreted with no ill-effects
    UK based formulation chemist. Strongest subjects: hair styling, hair bleaches, hair dyes (oxidative and non-oxidative) I know some stuff about: EU regulations, emulsions (O/W and W/O), toothpaste, mouthwash, shampoos, other toiletries
  • I read the PrettyMommies Link. Typical marketing where everything 'natural' is great and all the inferences to 'synthetic' or 'chemical' dangers are frequent. I get REALLY TIRED of reading that sort of thing.

    If these companies are so altruistic, why are they charging more than $1 per ml of product, considering that most products are 70%, or more, water?

    And is it a valid claim to say that oils moisturize? I thought humectants moisturize. Oils, I thought, cover the skin, while emollients soften the skin. I see alot of companies make the claim that their oils moisturize.

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