….that is the question.
For quite some time now, we’ve been struggling with the idea of preservatives in lotion. We have come to a decision that we are at peace with for now, but we have been asked about it many, many times so I wanted to share our thought process with you.
Initially all our products were 100% natural. We started the business with that in mind and every time we had to make a choice, we would return to that underlying decision and use it to guide us.
Lotion has always been a problem for me. Like soap, I have a hard time using what is available in a grocery store or drug store. My face in particular was in issue. My skin is very dry and very sensitive and anything with a fragrance was literally painful to apply. For many years I was stuck using a dermatologist-recommended lotion that I had to buy at a pharmacy. Very expensive and full of ingredients that I couldn’t read or pronounce if I tried.
It was an easy step for me to being making natural lotions. I used my skin and face as a test to see how things felt to me and how my skin felt after using them for a period. After quite a bit of trial and error, we found a recipe that seemed to work.
After doing a significant amount of research on natural lotions, I became quite concerned about customer safety. The short version is this: natural lotion is a mix of oil and water. It is moist on purpose and is kept in a closed container. People apply it to their skin by taking their fingers and dipping it into the lotion, then using fingers and hands to apply to to their skin. Unfortunately, this means there is no way to avoid introducing bacteria. Most of us know that if you add bacteria to a moist, dark place, it will thrive. Bacteria heaven. Also fighting against us was the idea that this bacteria is not always visible. Sometimes you will see the mold, other times it will just live in the lotion and you may not realize it.
It’s hard for us to say our goal is to be natural because it’s healthier for us and the environment if our choices are exposing people to anything potentially harmful.
With that in mind, we made the decision to include some sort of preservative and moved on to decide what would be the best option. We’ve spent several months trying desperately to find something that worked for us. We had finally decided on pottasium sorbate only to find out that it would not truly protect from bacteria and that it was significantly changing the texture of our lotion.
After contacting fellow natural care product sellers and much hesitation, we chose to use Liquid Germall Plus. It’s not what I would like to use in an ideal world, but it honestly appears to be one of the better options. We chose it because it is paraben free and the minimum amount required for effectiveness is very low (.5%). The perservative is made up of: Propylene Glycol, Diazolidinyl Urea, and Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate.
For anyone who is interested in researching the contents of cosmetics (I highly recommend it….it’s an eye opening experience), the Skin Deep’s Cosmetic Database is a fantastic resource. If you were to search each of the preservative ingrdients mentioned above, the item of concern to most people is iodopropnyl butylcarbamate.
As I mentioned, Liquid Germall Plus is .5% or so of our lotion recipe. Of that .5%, 0.002% is iodopropnyl butylcarbamate. To put that number in perspective, we make everything in small batches and at most pour 16 ounces of lotion at a time. In that entire batch, we add less than 0.01 ounce of the preservative which means that we’re adding approx. 0.0003 ounces of iodopropnyl butylcarbamate. That batch makes 8 jars of lotion.
As soon as someone releases a natural preservative with proven effectiveness, I plan to switch even if it means changing our formulation. In the meantime, our only other option is to discontinue our lotion line completely, which we discussed many times, but I truly feel that having a lotion that is 99.9% natural is a much better alternative than the commercial options available.
I hope this open dialog helps to clarify the decision we have made. If you have any questions or concerns, we would be happy to answer them.