In the spotlight: The fight over preservatives in personal care products

June 11, 2014

Rising public concern over the safety of synthetic preservatives in personal care products, such as sunscreens, is pressuring stores and manufacturers to turn to naturally derived alternatives. But an article in Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN), the weekly news magazine of the American Chemical Society, notes that a recent recall of a naturally preserved product that nonetheless became contaminated with microbes shows the issue of synthetic versus natural is not cut-and-dried.

Marc S. Reisch, a C&EN senior correspondent, explains that preservatives, regardless of where they come from, keep potentially harmful microbes from growing in bottled products. Preservatives are low-cost, low-concentration additives that give these products their long shelf life. But research within the past decade suggests that common synthetic preservatives, such as parabens and formaldehyde, carry their own health risks. Defenders of these compounds counter that the concentrations of the preservatives are so low that they pose little, if any, danger. But some environmental health experts and consumers aren't buying that argument. In response, some manufacturers are turning to alternatives, including naturally derived compounds.

However, last year, a maker of natural found that some tubes of its children's sunscreen lotion were contaminated with potentially troublesome microbes, despite containing a plant-based preservative, the article notes. The company, W.S. Badger Co., voluntarily recalled the affected lots of the lotions (SPF 30 Baby Sunscreen and SPF 30 Kids Sunscreen). The incident highlights the fact that manufacturers need to practice caution, whether preservatives are natural or synthetic.

Explore further: New woes for silicones in cosmetics and personal care products

More information: "Widening War Over Preservatives" cen.acs.org/articles/92/i23/Close-Scrutiny-Cosmetic-Preservatives-Continues.html

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Brazilian wasp venom kills cancer cells by opening them up

September 1, 2015

The social wasp Polybia paulista protects itself against predators by producing venom known to contain a powerful cancer-fighting ingredient. A Biophysical Journal study published September 1 reveals exactly how the venom's ...

Water heals a bioplastic

September 1, 2015

A drop of water self-heals a multiphase polymer derived from the genetic code of squid ring teeth, which may someday extend the life of medical implants, fiber-optic cables and other hard to repair in place objects, according ...

Naturally-occurring protein enables slower-melting ice cream

August 31, 2015

(Phys.org)—Scientists have developed a slower-melting ice cream—consider the advantages the next time a hot summer day turns your child's cone with its dream-like mound of orange, vanilla and lemon swirls with chocolate ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.