“Ingredient manufacturers have for several years now been developing and marketing new, more natural antimicrobials, sometimes as blends, to meet high demand for paraben-free systems. The latter is especially important in Europe where the use of preservatives is regulated by means of a positive list,” said Judi Beerling, Technical Research Manager at Organic Monitor.
“Methods of reducing the need for conventional preservatives, like hurdle technology and airless packaging are also important.”
Food preservatives in cosmetics on the rise
According to Organic Monitor, this trend has accelerated in recent years and forms part of the continuing merge between cosmetic and personal care formulations with those used in the food industry.
However, although this has proved to be one way of navigating the challenge of finding natural-based or greener preservative solutions, Organic Monitor points out that this continues to be a significant hurdle for many formulators.
“They need materials that provide cost-effective, preservative systems with reliable activity for a wide range of formulation types. Although various alternative preservative exist, they are sometimes lacking in performance, certainly over a wide pH range,” said Beerling.
Invariably the lack of performance means that dosing size has to be increased compared to parabens or other conventional preservatives, which then starts to impact formulators who are working to tighter budget restrictions.
Costs impact use of natural preservatives
“The major issue thus holding back the development of natural-based preservatives is the one of affordable cost,” Beerling added.
Likewise, there is also the added complication of limited availability or supply volatility for plant-based preservative solutions, many of which are sourced from crops that depend on climatic and environmental issues.
But ultimately the expert believes that persisting with sustainable initiatives such as green preservatives will pay dividends in the long run.
"Purchasing departments must be prepared to consider supporting such initiatives since costs only come down when economies of scale kick in… with the pressure from various stakeholder groups on finished product companies to improve their sustainability, hopefully this will continue to drive uptake of these new, exciting green technologies.“