Saturday, March 31, 2007

Preserving The Natural

Your skin care products, natural or not, contain water. This H2O is a verifiable magnet and breeding ground for not only mold, but bacteria as well. Why is this you ask? Well, bacteria enjoy the nourishment of plant extracts just as we do. Bacteria absolutely love the natural sugars found in these extracts and look to gobble them up in any way they can find.

Before you go on a “Stop The Bacteria” crusade, there is something that holds these little gobblers at bay. That “something” is in fact preservatives. When added to natural products in very small amounts, preservatives help to boost the antibacterial benefits of natural ingredients.

Now I’m sure you may be asking, “But what about natural bacteria fighters like Tea Tree Oil, Rosemary or Vitamin E"? Of course they can be used (and are used) in natural products. However, for multiple reasons, semi synthetic preservatives are necessary. Just what are those reasons? Two right off the top of my head are 1) Some of these natural fighters are only effective against certain types of bacteria and 2) Certain natural fighters are effective when used in very high concentrations. However, these high concentrations can not only cause skin irritation but can also break down the effectiveness and stability of the product they’re supposed to be helping.

Semi synthetic preservatives also extend the shelf life of the products they’re in. Products that contain these preservatives have a shelf life of 12 months or more depending on what that product is. This is obviously more than the normal shelf life of 3-6 months of a totally natural product (no semi synthetic preservatives). Also take into account the storing conditions of your totally natural product: Have you stored it in a cool, dry place? Is it being refrigerated? Has it come in contact with any non-sterile product? Storing conditions, believe it or not, play a vital role in your totally natural product’s life.

We all know very well the healing and nourishing benefits of natural products. Aren’t those just a couple reasons why we use them? We should be mindful that these are the very same attractions that draw bacteria. Shouldn’t we give our natural products a fighting chance? Of course! Adding very small amounts of semi synthetic preservatives such as Methylparaben or Propylparaben isn’t a bad thing. It’s an important element needed to extend the life of our natural products and protect them, as they protect us.

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