Editors note: This is the first in a series of posts we’ll run throughout the month of June on Preservatives in Personal Care Products. We hope this series answers the slew of questions we’ve been getting about preserving cosmetics and the need to preserve natural cosmetics. ~Kristin & Lisa
With the current high interest in all things natural many formulators do not recognize the importance of using a preservative. Preservatives are a necessary ingredient in all emulsions to prevent the growth of bacteria. Even though bacteria are completely ‘natural’ they can also cause a lot of harm to us. A colleague of mine recently shared her story with me and with her permission I am sharing it here just to let you know how important preventing bacterial growth is.
“It makes no difference if something is all organic or natural if it has cooties in it that you cannot see with the naked eye that can cause more problems to someone’s skin than the preservative you didn’t use. I used to make my lotions without preservatives. I was naive and did not understand that any product that has water has the potential to grow cooties that can harm you. I had a surgery and at that time I used nothing but my own lotions. I came through my surgery quite fabulously but two days later I was rushed back to the hospital in critical condition. I had a temperature of over 104 that lingered for four days. Three of those four days I have no memory of. I ended up spending three weeks in the hospital on IV antibiotics and then at home with nursing care for another week. My surgical incision had burst open I had to carry a wound vac machine for five weeks. What caused all this? My own lotion was contaminated because I did not use a preservative. Knowing that I was going to be in the hospital, I made a special lotion that I used the day of my surgery and took it with me to the hospital to use. I know that this is a sore subject for a lot of people. This lotion was not old, only 3-4 days old when I used it before going to the hospital the day of my surgery. Having this lotion tested afterward I found that it was indeed contaminated. The cooties in my busted opened incision were the cooties in my unpreserved lotion. I have never been the same since then; I do not feel good most of the time and I have never regained the vitality I used to have after having this near death experience.
Are you prepared to allow a creation of your own to possibly do this to someone else????
Although you may be willing to take this risk for your own personal use you cannot sell such a product to the general public. Preservative usually amounts to 1% or less in most lotions, but without it it could kill someone. I’ll take a preservative any day over what I endured and am still enduring years later.”