"Natural" Cosmetic Preservative Systems

I am formulating an oil-in-water, unscented, leave-on body lotion for use by licensed massage therapists when providing professional massage therapy services in spas.  I would like to find a "natural" (EcoCert compliant), effective, unscented (or low scent), non-sensitizing, broad spectrum preservative system to include in the massage lotion formulation.

I am considering combining two "natural" (EcoCert compliant) preservative systems to provide broad spectrum preservation with a target lotion pH of 5.4 and a target shelf life of 18 months for the massage lotion.  Specifically, I am considering combining Gluconolactone and Sodium Benzoate (Recommended use levels 0.75% to 2.0%; Brand Names - Geogard Ultra, Microgard, NeoDefend) with Lactobacillus Ferment & Lactobacillus & Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Fruit Extract (Recommended use levels 2.0% to 4.0%; Brand Name - Leucidal SF Complete).  The reason I theorize this preservative combination could be an effective "natural" broad spectrum preservative system for a body lotion is that they both have different anti-microbial and anti-mold actions while together they fortify the anti-gram negative bacterial action.  Also, I like that both preservative systems have a low odor profile.  I do not know what would be potentially effective use levels for each preservative (Geogard Ultra + Leucidal SF Complete) when combined in the same body lotion formulation.

I would greatly appreciate any and all thoughts, comments, and suggestions regarding the idea of combining Gluconolactone and Sodium Benzoate with Lactobacillus Ferment & Lactobacillus & Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Fruit Extract as a broad spectrum "Natural" preservative system for an unscented massage lotion with a target shelf life of 18 months.
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Comments

  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    My thoughts are that if you want a long lasting, pH 5.4, low odor, non-sensitizing preservative, you should use parabens.

    Alternative preservatives like the ones you've suggested are difficult to formulate with and are not always effective. When it comes to preservatives, "natural" is not better and is frequently worse.
  • ozgirlozgirl Member, PCF student
    Have you considered Benzyl Alcohol and Dehydroacetic Acid (Geogard 221) which is ecocert approved.

    I have read about lots of problems with the Leucidal products.

    Which ever option you choose you will need to do a preservative efficacy test to ensure it works for your formula.
  • MarkBroussardMarkBroussard Member, Professional Chemist
    I have used both preservatives you mentioned, but not combined together.  While I don't have lots of confidence in the Leucidal series of preservatives, when I combine Leucidal SF Complete (3%) with Zemea Propanediol (3%) and Phytic Acid (.1%) it did pass PCT.

    You might want to consider adding a Chelating Agent (Phytic Acid) and 1,3-Propanediol to your brew to help boost the preservative efficacy.

    With Dissolvine GL-47 (tetrasodium glutamate diacetate) as the chelant, you get a 50% boost in preservative efficacy with Gluconolactone+Sodium Benzoate, so that would be another option. 
    Chemist/Microbiologist formulating in the Organic & Naturals arena under ECOCert/Natural Products Assn/Whole Foods/National Organic Program guidelines focused skincare & haircare products. 

    See website for details www.desertinbloomcosmeticslab.com
  • DtdangDtdang Member
    Paraben used for preservative, the lotion is still legally called natural if all other ingredients are naturals?
  • BelassiBelassi Member, PCF student
    Only if you can document that an indigenous worker in a FairTrade group harvested it from the skins of wild blueberries that have never been exposed to artificial fertilisers or pesticides.
    Cosmetic Brand Creation. Concept to name to IMPI search to logo and brand registration. In-house graphic design inc. Pantone specs. Cosmetic label and box design & graphics.
  • Maybe you can go AMTcide Coconut and Leucidal Liquid SR? One does bacterial and one does fungus. I am about to use it, Please let me know the experiences you have?
    Dr. Catherine Pratt
    (B.Sc with HONS I , Ph.D Analytical/Organic Chem and Microbiology), Cosmetic Chemistry IPCS)
  • MicroformulationMicroformulation Member, Professional Chemist
    The AMTcide Coconut and the Leucidal Liquid SF were combined together into a new product called Leucidal Liquid Complete. It has an advantage of also adding to the moisturizing effect as well. It can be weak in yeast/mold so some Formulators will augment that. Also, from the Technical Services at Advanced Micro Technologies, using a chelant can be helpful as well. This product can be purchased directly from Formulator Sample Shop in smaller retail amounts. http://www.formulatorsampleshop.com/Leucidal-Liquid-Complete-p/fssm15024.htm

    Looking at my Prospector account, they list Lexguard GMCY and Lexguard Natural (Inolex Products) as being approved as well.

    Keep in mind though that one would be remiss in not learning and following the "Hurdle Technique" of Preservation, especially when trying to be "natural" (horrible undefined terminology). This approach identifies multiple factors such as pH, secure packaging, glycols, and other factors that will influence the efficacy of your preservative system. It is not simply an issue of adding the appropriate level of preservative and mixing until homogenous.

    Lastly, a respected author in Cosmetic Preservation has said on multiple occasions, "The best preservative is good cGMP." This points out that while all the above issues are significant, good manufacturing practices and sanitary processes will contribute greatly as well.

    markfuller@microformulation.com Microformulation.com Microformulation Cosmetic Consulting provides Custom Formulations for both large Commercial accounts as well as smaller entrepreneurs. We can provide Naturally compliant Formulations under the NSF, NPA, Whole Foods and USDA Organic Certifications. BS.Pharm Albany College of Pharmacy, Union University.
  • MicroformulationMicroformulation Member, Professional Chemist
    @Max These essential oil-based preservative systems appeal to the market, but in my experience, I have seen many fails. Again, they do require a hurdle approach and good cGMP. Even then, I still insist that if a client wants to use a newer less tested preservative, that PET is a must! 
    markfuller@microformulation.com Microformulation.com Microformulation Cosmetic Consulting provides Custom Formulations for both large Commercial accounts as well as smaller entrepreneurs. We can provide Naturally compliant Formulations under the NSF, NPA, Whole Foods and USDA Organic Certifications. BS.Pharm Albany College of Pharmacy, Union University.
  • MaxMax Member
    thanks for the feedback, we use an outside lab for PET test :) 
    in regards of the oil-based preservatives, well might work in some cases, never know before you try I guess... :)
  • ozgirlozgirl Member, PCF student
    @Max From the Abstract for that article it looks like they were using 2.5% essential oil compared to 0.4% methyl paraben. So the comparison isn't really equal.

    It is unlikely that any of the essential oils they tested would be used in a product for skin contact at that level due to the odour. Not to mention the cost and skin compatibility. There are definite limitations to using them as preservatives.
  • MaxMax Member
    fair points thanks, I mentioned it mostly for general interest

    BTW Ozgirl, where are you based?

  • ozgirlozgirl Member, PCF student
    @Max I am in NSW Australia.
  • MaxMax Member
    @ozgirl cool Brisbane here :)

  • @MicroformulationI get the feeling you cringe every time the word 'Natural' is used. Due to the fact I have to use it, is there another word that would make you less stressed?
    Dr. Catherine Pratt
    (B.Sc with HONS I , Ph.D Analytical/Organic Chem and Microbiology), Cosmetic Chemistry IPCS)
  • MicroformulationMicroformulation Member, Professional Chemist
    @Dr Catherine Pratt This really reflects the lack of a legal definition for the word "natural" in the US, the Marketing misconceptions that arise from the lack of a definition and also the impact on R&D when you proceed without a definition.

    Here in the US when you are "natural", your standard can vary greatly. Either you deliver "natural" by adding a whiff of botanicals to a mainstream product (greenwashing) or your client is operating from a deeply held chemophobia/naturalistic fallacy that will cause them to limit the raw material choices in such a restrictive manner that performance will be muted. You would think that the market would slowly evolve the standard to mean something objective, but that has yet to happen.

    In addition, on a daily basis, I am approached by clients who will lead with "I want my product to be natural." When I challenge them with the question, "What do you mean by natural?" The clients will believe that it is a defined term and they will counter with. "You know, natural!" Now, in general, many of these clients who lead with this vague standard have derived their definition of "natural" on Marketing terms alone or unfortunately from unqualified sources such as online blogs or discussion groups. As a Formulator one of my first tasks is to work with the client to refine the definition or to work under a natural standard. If you don't do so, you are really trying to formulate with a shifting standard or to hit a moving target. Every Formulator has seen this effect. I personally have had to deal with a harried client who has spent time in a blog and now wants to know if Glycerin "is really natural?" Or "that doesn't sound natural." And this can continue far after you have an approved product and I have even seen it occur after labels and materials have been ordered by the manufacturer. When you proactively define the term, you can lock in the Product Development and avoid greatly facilitate the process.

    In this Forum, it is also dangerous. Now, we have numerous Industry Professionals, people with Technical Training gaining experience in the Industry and people who are really lost in regards to what "natural" means and when discussing a natural product even we may not be on the same page. You could contribute your input and the other person in may have a totally different idea of "natural." For example, once a poster was working with the standard that the organic acids were not "natural" since the raw materials were synthesized in the lab but are nature identical. I think that we as Scientists should demand that the term begin to develop an objective and consistent standard.

    So, with my clients we either a. follow and comply with a Natural standard or b. define the term internally. We may develop a "Natural Materials Standard" such as "XYZ Cosmetics avoids the use of parabens, formaldehyde donors.....AND uses plant-based materials minimally processed to produce safe and effective products. (Note: with sunscreens, color cosmetics and some other products you may need to add "naturally occurring minerals minimally processed.). The materials are "minimally processed" since for example, we can agree that a Botanical Extract would be extracted and standardized or "concentrated" to be used. It is changed in form, but not in structure. COSMOS has a great objective standard on the allowable processes. In addition, one of your fellow countrypersons, Belinda Carli does a great video on her Youtube channel on the processing. Perry has also done several videos as well.

    So (finally), in summary, I will avoid the undefined term "natural" with clients to facilitate the process and with colleagues in order to further the Scientific process. While they are also still not universally accepted, I use the term "naturally compliant" to discuss a product that follows a standard be it an existing third-party standard or even a lucidly defined term as above. If a raw material is "natural", I will use the new "naturally derived." Someday hopefully we will reach one clearly defined so that when we say natural we will all know that we are discussing the COSMOS standard, but until this happens, it is incumbent on us to proactively define the term.
    markfuller@microformulation.com Microformulation.com Microformulation Cosmetic Consulting provides Custom Formulations for both large Commercial accounts as well as smaller entrepreneurs. We can provide Naturally compliant Formulations under the NSF, NPA, Whole Foods and USDA Organic Certifications. BS.Pharm Albany College of Pharmacy, Union University.
  • You can definitely try with essential oils
    but you'll need to do microbial testing on products made with every single batch of essential oil
    if EO is diluted or somehow subpotent, the product is no longer preserved = rotten

    A high school mate, now a paramedic working at a hospital, told me dozens of people get skin rash because of essential oils
    some even get rushed to ER (but mostly because they ingested essential oils).
  • @Microformulation I am hearing you! The whole thing is unbelievable really? and I don't think anyone will stop it, it is getting bigger and faster and is out of control. Of course I know you deal with it all the time as do I. Nice piece...
    Dr. Catherine Pratt
    (B.Sc with HONS I , Ph.D Analytical/Organic Chem and Microbiology), Cosmetic Chemistry IPCS)
  • Have you heard about Naticide? It's INC is fragrance and they do not disclose how it's made. PET successful at 1% ina water-based gel. Any thoughts?
  • MicroformulationMicroformulation Member, Professional Chemist
    Did you get a passing PET in a water-based gel through testing or is this based upon manufacturer supplied testing results?
    markfuller@microformulation.com Microformulation.com Microformulation Cosmetic Consulting provides Custom Formulations for both large Commercial accounts as well as smaller entrepreneurs. We can provide Naturally compliant Formulations under the NSF, NPA, Whole Foods and USDA Organic Certifications. BS.Pharm Albany College of Pharmacy, Union University.
  • MarkBroussardMarkBroussard Member, Professional Chemist
    Parfum (Naticide's INCI) is generally p-anisic acid or sodium anisate/sodium levulinate or Levulinic Acid dissolved in a glycerin/water mix.  It is a good basic component of a preservative blend, but I would not rely on that as sole preservation ingredient ... it's possible with proper hurdle ingredients that it is strong enough, but I would be cautious in using it solo.
    Chemist/Microbiologist formulating in the Organic & Naturals arena under ECOCert/Natural Products Assn/Whole Foods/National Organic Program guidelines focused skincare & haircare products. 

    See website for details www.desertinbloomcosmeticslab.com
  • @Microformulation and @MarkBroussard used Naticide at 0.7 and it passed the challenge test by an independent lab in the UK. Water 93% 
    Just FYI.
    It has a pretty strong smell but customers find it pleasant so no additional fragrance was used. It is very expensive. INC: fragrance. 
    The formula is: water+withc hazel, carbomer +ta+naticide+prEbiotic blend
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