Why do we use preservatives in our skin care and sunless tanning products?


Preservatives are the ingredients that protect spray tanning solution or any cosmetic product from the growth of the microorganisms like bacteria, fungi and molds. A preservative also helps the product to protect itself against damage and degradation caused by exposure to oxygen. Without preservatives, cosmetic products can become contaminated, leading to product spoilage and if used on the skin possibly cause irritation or infections. Microbial contamination of products can cause significant problems.

Most people probably appreciate that it is an essential requirement for manufacturers to sell safe products that are hygienic when used according to the instructions and that the product retains its integrity during the required shelf life of the product.

Before we go further, one important things you should know that most spray tanning products and lotions and creams contains water (aqua) as one of the main ingredients and  if those products are not properly preserved it will grow microorganism and product will be contaminated right away.

Preservative free products?

When we have a client ask us why the so and so  company says they have preservative free products our only answer that we have is to carefully look at the ingredient list on those products, If they are using water (aqua) as one of their ingredient then their label is incomplete or they are just hiding the truth!

So how about Natural preservative?

Some companies claim that they use certain “natural” ingredients which they claim safely preserve their products. However, whether that is the case or not can only be proven by a microbiologist carrying out a challenge test on the product. A challenge test provides a standard test regime which establishes whether the product is safely preserved under normal conditions of use against the microorganisms that could be harmful to user and product stability. The fact that a particular “natural” ingredient has preservative properties does not necessarily mean that it is sufficient to provide adequate preservation to the finished product during the normal shelf life of the product. At AYU we are constantly looking at any “natural preservative” out in the market and do challange test and few different types of micro testing and we have not found any natural preservative that successfully preserves our products and keeps the products stable or fresh.

How we choose preservative system for our products?

At AYU, we are group of cosmetic chemists and we have considerable experience, a combined 80 years of experience in fact,  with preserving cosmetics, skin care and sunless tanning/spray tanning products. The choice of a suitable preservative depends upon many issues, not the least of which is pH. Other considerations include compatibility with other ingredients in the product, as sometimes these will affect the preservation efficacy and the end result could potentially be an under-preserved product. There are many preservatives available for the cosmetic chemist to use, but not all are suitable or desirable for the type of products that we manufacture. For example, there are preservatives that work by releasing a small amount of formaldehyde in order to kill off any microorganisms.  However, although highly effective as a preservative, there are issues with formaldehyde even in low doses, such as irritation and other health issues. Another family of preservatives are called parabens. Chemically, parabens are esters of p-hydroxybenzoic acid. These are again highly effective and have had a long history of use in cosmetics. The issue here is that the parabens have received negative publicity whether justified or not and we have chosen not to use them purely for our customer’s peace of mind even though they are deemed safe for use in cosmetic products at the normal levels of usage.

At AYU, we keep abreast of all new ingredients and review very carefully all the safety and technical data applicable to an ingredient being considered for use in our products. Only when we are completely satisfied will we incorporate it into our products.

Do you have any questions regarding preservatives in cosmetics and skin care products or you have different views on preservatives in these products,If so  feel free to leave us a comment.


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