Home Cosmetic Science Talk Formulating Does Anhydrous formulation need a preserve?

  • Does Anhydrous formulation need a preserve?

    Posted by Dtdang on March 31, 2023 at 6:22 pm

    Hello everyone,

    I plan to formulate a lipstick that is anhydrous formulation. Does it need a preserve? and which preserve is the best choice?

    I appreciate and thank you all answers in advance.

    MariaSibon replied 1 year, 3 months ago 4 Members · 5 Replies
  • 5 Replies
  • PhilGeis

    April 1, 2023 at 5:14 am

    You need to describe the product

  • Dtdang

    April 1, 2023 at 4:29 pm

    It is just moisturize lipstick. The formula: shea butter, Castor oil, coconut oil and sweet almond oil.

  • Perry44

    April 1, 2023 at 7:46 pm

    You might not need one, but the product will be exposed to the moisture of the lips so it could potentially harbor microbial growth.

    The real question is Why wouldn’t you put a preservative?

    • PhilGeis

      April 2, 2023 at 9:44 am

      You could look at similar marketed products but, to Perry’s point, you don’t know their risk assessment. If this is just for you - you can be arbitrary. If you plan to sell, (micro) safety is on you and a food grade preservative like parabens might give you a technically-defensible position.

  • MariaSibon

    April 4, 2023 at 7:02 am


    I would like to share my humble experience in this topic.

    We are trying to finalise formulation of a foot repairing balm which is anhydrous.

    Among the ingredients I use salicylic acid 0.5% which is listed also as preservative in cosmetics, and 2% overall essential oils which literature suggests they have antimicrobial effect.

    Micro test of sample 40C, 6 weeks failed on total count bacteria (6000, when limit is 1000).

    I cannot measure the water content, but after looking the specifications of my ingredients in more detail, I might have 3-5% moisture. Also chatting with my safety assesor, many besswax ointments that are consider anhydrous and safe fail micro test, it may have to do with beeswax and the tendency to bind water.

    We have decided to include preservative in our formula. This looks unfair (from a marketing point of view) to similar products in the market that claim “preservative free” and therefore more “natural”, but we know that we are on the safe side.

    Checking the presence of e.g. phenoxyethanol to various anhydrous productw in the market, you will find plenty.

    So please consider this to your lipstick formulation, selection of ingredients and preservatives.

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