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Article: Preservatives in Skincare

Preservatives in Skincare

It can be a little confusing when trying to decipher whether preservatives in skincare are good for you, and what purpose they serve. Just like the fresh food you get from the market, your skincare (without preservatives) would only last a matter of weeks, if not days, before they would be covered in bacteria and mould. Skincare is particularly susceptible to microbial growth, especially if they’re water based, and because we (usually) store our products in humid bathrooms. The last thing you want to do is apply bacteria, mould and fungi all over your face. The preservatives in your skincare are there to prevent this bacteria from growing by either killing the microbial cells, or creating an environment where it is difficult for bacteria to spread.


There are formulations out there that contain toxic preservatives such as parabens and other chemical agents, and then there are naturally derived preservatives that are safe for you and the planet. When we designed our formulations, we were fixated on capturing as pure a concentration of nature as possible. That means real fruits, natural preservatives, and the most innovative technology we could employ. We wanted to replicate how these fruits existed in nature, and distil the magic of the planet into a bottle. And we did just that.



Occurring naturally in everything from cranberries, cinnamon, plums and even animals, Sodium Benzoate is a salt that is a food-grade, biodegradable preservative which prevents yeast, mould and fungus from forming on your skincare. There has been speculation on a number of blogs that indicate that when Sodium Benzoate is added to a liquid containing synthetic ascorbic acid (Vitamin C), benzene (a toxic chemical) is created. Because Bluem products only contain natural Vitamin C from the fruits of Kakadu plum and Finger Lime, and we do not add synthetic ascorbic acid, this natural salt derived preservative is safe to use in your skincare as no benzene is present.


This naturally occurring salt (very similar to its salty cousin, Sodium Benzoate), is found in many fruits and vegetables, in particular Mountain Ash Berries. Potassium Sorbate is a mild preservative used to prevent the growth of microorganisms and is the natural and safe alternative to harsh chemical preservatives such as parabens and formaldehyde. It is so safe you will find Potassium Sorbate in many of your favourite cheeses and wines. 


Not only is Citric Acid a safe and natural preservative used to keep your skincare fresh for longer (by slowing the formation of bacteria), but it doubles as a protective antioxidant and an excellent skin pH balancer. Citric Acid is naturally extracted from citrus fruits such as oranges, lemons and limes, and also from other fruits like berries. With its naturally acidic pH, Citric Acid keeps your skin from becoming too alkaline which helps you maintain a healthy skin barrier function. The rich antioxidants found in Citric Acid can also help combat free-radicals and oxidative stress to help reveal a brighter, more radiant complexion.


There are many harsh and toxic preservatives that are known to cause allergies and skin irritations, while some have even been proven to disrupt your endocrine (hormone) system which can lead to birth defects and cancerous diseases. It’s important to learn what preservatives are safe for you and your family, and what ones you should avoid at all costs. 


These synthetically produced preservatives used to extend shelf life and prevent bacterial growth have been linked to many health issues including hormone disruption, reproductive toxicity and even cancer. Here are some parabens you should keep an eye out for: methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben and isobutylparaben.


A byproduct of combustion, Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen (promotes the formation of cancer), and is still found in an array of cosmetics. Although formaldehyde can sometimes be found naturally, because of its harmful effects, you should avoid it at all costs. Known preservatives that produce formaldehyde are: Bronopol, DMDM hydantoin, diazolidinyl urea, imidazolidinyl urea, and quaternium-15.

Others preservatives to avoid: Benzisothiazolinone, Butylated Hydroxyanisole and Triclosan

Beautiful image series by the talented @abbeylauphotography

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