There’s been a lot of talk on Social Media about the safety of preservatives these days and that’s a good thing! There is unfortunately a lot of misinformation as well. Let’s set the record straight!
Any product that is made with water requires a preservative. It’s to prevent bacteria, mold, fungus or other critters from growing in the product. Preservatives are needed to prevent contamination. Let’s talk about the preservative, Phenoxyethanol, specifically.
It rates a four on the Cosmetic safety database (0-10 scale, and four is measured at its most concentrated and isolated level, which means it’s not measured in a product). Pretty good, considered most other preservatives are measured at around seven or higher.
So let’s put it in perspective. Penoxyethanol is approved at 1% in products (Canada, Japan, and The European Union). When you consider toxicity is relative to dosage, 1% makes this is a very low risk. (Look at your label, and your preservative should be the last item on the list. Ingredients are listed in order of percentage, from the highest to the lowest. So the last ingredient on the list basically means it is the one at the lowest amount in your product).
It is also important to know how to decipher the information you read about. It’s sometimes easy to panic when you see a list of warnings, restrictions, numbers on scales, and jump to conclusions.
Penoxyethanol is a safe preservative that is approved for use at a very low dosage percentage (1%). Think of it in a 240ml/8oz bottle of lotion, for instance. At 1%, it is not a lot of preservative in your product.
Certain chemicals on their own can be concerning, but when combined are harmless. Let’s use the example of Lye. Horrible stuff on its own but mix it with water and oil and it creates soap. Add Olive Oil and you now have a soap gentle enough for children!
And.. be aware of those who might suggest that “if you can’t pronounce it, it shouldn’t be in your skincare. After all, Penoxyethanol is certainly not an easy word of the toung; but as we have disussed, you are better off to have this in your “Natural” or “Clean” skincare, than to put up with the many other chemicals available and so often utilized.
Finally, read your labels, ask questions and remember… Just because there’s a recipe on the internet for a great body scrub, it doesn’t make everyone a chemist.