Handmade Beauty Products: Preservatives and Grapeseed Extract Is Not a Preservative

Hello Everyone

I've been making my own "curlicious" products for a while now and have done a lot of research into formulations, ingredients, etc. One of the appeals with "natural" products is just that - they're considered to be natural. And many people are turned off by the use of synthetic preservatives in products, especially parabens. I completely understand this and being someone who is in the healthcare field and complementary healthcare especially, I'm wary of anything that goes in and on my body. However, when making products that contain water, a proper preservative is a MUST. Storing products in the fridge can delay the growth or organisms by a few days, but keep in mind that everytime you unscrew the cap of the jar, the product is getting exposure to light, oxygen and bacteria from the air. In addition, if your products are being held in a jar then every time your dip your finger into it, bacteria is being transferred. If I'm using something on my own skin or hair I don't want to see mould in it at all, or experience any type of bacterial contamination. So I'm going use a preservative, especially for myself. So in the search for naturally made products one things I see a lot is that grape seed extract is used as a preservative. Grape seed extract is not a proper preservative for your water-based products. It is derived from the seed and pulp of grapefruits, and it contains many beneficial ingredients like anti-oxidants, flavonoids, Vitamin C, citric acid, phytosterols, and tocopherols - but it is NOT a preservative. It can be an antioxidant, but it won't keep bacteria and other microbes out of your creations.

Numerous studies have shown that the preserving power of GSE comes from the preservatives added to the product.Various studies have shown GSE contains benzethonium chloride, benzalkonium chloride, triclosan, and various parabens, and these are what offer the bacteria, fungus, yeast, and mould fighting powers attributed to GSE.

To look at some abstracts you can perform a search on Pubmed about preservatives and grapefruit seed extract.

So if you want to properly preserve your products, and you want to ensure that the water-based handmade products you are purchasing a properly preserved, they will need to contain some type of synthetic or "semi-natural" preservative.

I know it may not be appealing to use a preservative but many of the non-paraben preservative are typically used in your product from .5-1% so it's such a small quantity in your creation.

If your making your products to sell you'll want to be especially diligent about this. I purchased a natural curl enhancing product a while ago online and was surprised and digusted when I found a mold spot growing in the bottle! Yuck!
Hi,
Thanks so much for your post
What should I use for my perservative then?? Is there anything that's relatively easy to get (as in I don't have to go online). Also, in order to do percentages with this does that mean that I need to go buy a scale? haha, when I move to college my roommate's gunna think I'm a freak! I'll be cooking up snot, soaking my hair with it, sleeping with a bright yellow t-shirt wrapped around my hair (plopping) and now weighing chemicals in the corner. LOL.
Routine:
Rake in Glycerin & FSG
Supersoak
Spray in Aloe Vera
Scrunch & Pump more FSG


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3A/3B & a little 3C
I don't know of any stores that would sell the kind of preservatives used in homemade products other than online.

Liquid Germall Plus is my favorite. Its easy to use, fairly cheep, and works at .5% of your total weight.

Yes, you will need a good scale to properly weigh the preservatives.

This site carries both.

Lotioncrafter

Who cares what the roommate thinks, she'll be jealous of your gorgeous hair anyway!
3a/3b Medium Texture & Normal Porosity
Modified CG since November 2009
Low Poo - (Once in a while) True Polaris Solid Shampoo Bar
CO-wash/Condish - (I'm lazy, one step only!) True Polaris Solid Conditioner Bars
Styling - True Polaris Truly Curly Styling Gel I add 'cones in summer Truly Frizz Free Hair Serum
I plop and defuse daily


I love MUSE
here is a link to a website that sells a natural preservative. it is kinda pricey compared to other preservatives

NataPres - Natural Preservative
do you have to use a preservative if you don't use water in your homemade products?
do you have to use a preservative if you don't use water in your homemade products?
Originally Posted by azchic76
No......but if theres a chance that water will get in it by using it, then it should be preserved.

Example #1 Homemade sugar/salt scrub. Ingredients are oils & sugar/salt in the container. No water is used to make the product, but when a person uses it in the shower, water can contaminate it by sticking wet hands into it to scoop some out. Now nasties can start growing and multiplying. Ick! So I always use a preservative in these, especially if I'm giving these away as a gift. I know not to stick my wet hands in there, but my friend might not or she could forget that I told her not too.

Example #2. After shower oil. Ingredients are just oils & fragrance. Since I put this in a flip top bottle and pour a bit into my hands to rub on, I'm pretty sure water isn't going to get inside. So I don't bother with a preservative in this case.

Hope this helps.
3a/3b Medium Texture & Normal Porosity
Modified CG since November 2009
Low Poo - (Once in a while) True Polaris Solid Shampoo Bar
CO-wash/Condish - (I'm lazy, one step only!) True Polaris Solid Conditioner Bars
Styling - True Polaris Truly Curly Styling Gel I add 'cones in summer Truly Frizz Free Hair Serum
I plop and defuse daily


I love MUSE
It depends on if the product is truly anhydrous. Just because you don't use water doesn't mean it doesn't contain water. For example, if you use aloe vera juice or glycerin you'll need to use preservatives. Truly anhydrous products exclusively contains oils. In this case you wouldn't need a preservative but an antioxidant like vitamin E. This helps prevent the oils from becoming rancid.


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Most oils are not anhydrous, and therefore need to be preserved as water based products do.

Grape seed oil and Grapefruit seed oil are NOT the same thing. You seem to be using the terms interchangeably. Grape seed comes from grapes, grapefruit seed comes from grapefruit.

Grapefruit seed oil is NOT a preservative (as said, by OP, just re-iterating this), and is chemically extracted from grapefruit seeds and pulp - and is not really natural. Just because the original product was natural, doesn't mean the result is. If it does preserve your products, it's because of impurities in the oil that act as preservatives.

I personally use grapeseed oil, knowing full well it's not really effective. It has other benefits to it as well, and my hair likes it. So if it preserves it a bit, great! If not, eh, who cares? I make small batches, so they don't last long enough to matter, and I freeze what I can't use in 2 weeks.

Potassium sorbate is good for mold and yeast (not microbes), Vitamin E is mildly effective at inhibiting microbial growth in oil based products (note it is not antimicrobial, as it does not KILL bacteria, just slows growth).

The only really broad-spectrum preservative that is considered safe for cosmetics are parabens. So if you want to go all natural, make small batches, sterilize before preparation, and/or freeze your product to increase shelf life. Freezing after opening can also increase the shelf life of your product.

LONG EXPLANATION FOLLOWS....

People can always try using temperature, or acidity to preserve their products. Any product with a pH below 4.6 will be naturally preserved by the acid - which prevents growth, or above pH 7.5 (in which case the base prevents growth). As for temperature - bacterial growth is slowed outside of the temperature range of 4C (39F) to 60C (140F), and microorganisms (mostly pathogens and food spoilage ones - but food spoilage and cosmetics spoilage would be a similar field, in my opinion) can be killed at temperatures either below -18C (-0.4F) or above 72C (162F). So either keep your freezer on a very cold setting, or boil your product/containers/and equipment you use (strainers, bowls, stirring utensils) before you package your product. The boiling only really works if you need to boil the product to make it (case in point: flax seed gel requires boiling, I do not know if it gets above 72C though, I never checked the temperature when making it). But you can freeze most products without problems.

However, boiling only works until you open the package, so it may be best to boil, then keep frozen until use, keep in the fridge as you use it in quantities you can use in that time frame. For packaging, glass packaging is easiest to boil to sterilize, and the glass will not release harmful chemicals when heated (as some plastics do). Following those steps will not preserve your product indefinitely, but can significantly increase your shelf life (since microbes can't spoil something if they're dead....).

I have no idea if that will help anyone, but it should help for some purposes. This comes from someone working QC in the food industry, and a lot of the same procedures can apply to cosmetics as food.

Last edited by MojoDojo; 03-30-2011 at 04:39 PM.
Hmm, interesting you say that most oils are not anhydrous. From my studies of chemistry and biochemistry I would disagree with you. If you can show me some literature supporting this I would be happy to read if but my textbooks state that oils don't contain water, therefore making them anhydrous.


www.completeweightlosssolutions.wordpress.com
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And my initial comment was actually on GSE and not GRAPE seed extract as stated above. It was an error in typing and the two were not meant to be used interchangeably. I know the difference between grapeseed extract and GSE.


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www.completehealthsolutions.ca
Hmm, interesting you say that most oils are not anhydrous. From my studies of chemistry and biochemistry I would disagree with you. If you can show me some literature supporting this I would be happy to read if but my textbooks state that oils don't contain water, therefore making them anhydrous.
Originally Posted by earthtones naturals
I meant to say that most oils do contain some water in solution (so they're not completely free of water). I believe that the definition of anhydrous is free of water.

Llinoleic acid, which is an oil that comprises 73% of grapeseed oil and 10% of olive oil, has a solubility in water of 15.80-16.00mg linoleic acid in 100mL of DI water. It was a bit difficult finding a reference to a scientific journal for solubility, but my reference is here:
SpringerLink - Journal of the American Oil Chemists' Society, Volume 38, Number 1

This is the exact quote (it's in the abstract):
"Saturated aqueous solutions, obtained by high-speed centrifugation, had concentrations of 15.80 to 16.00 mg. linoleic acid per 100 ml. of D.I. water."

If the oil is slightly soluble in water, then water can be assumed to be slightly soluble in oil. Therefore, unless the manufacturer was extremely careful to limit presence of water in manufacturing (this includes limiting contact of the oil with air, which contains moisture and therefore would contaminate your oil), it can be assumed that your oil will contain trace amounts of water.

And it's not a technical reference, but I do remember some organic labs, working with non-polar oils that were synthesized, where we had to add sodium hydride (which reacts irreversibly with water) in order to "dry" the oil, because the trace water in the oil would reduce the purity of your oil, as well as possibly complicate any further reactions.

Most textbooks to refer to oil as being immiscible in water (especially entry level textbooks, once you get into 3rd and 4th year university chemistry, they tend to disagree with the first year texts). And for a lot of purposes, that's close enough to being true, but most compounds do have a *slight* solubility in water, and so water would have a *slight* solubility in oil.
Thanks for the detailed information about the oils. That's very interesting and I'll take a look through the paper.


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www.completehealthsolutions.ca
I'm not sure the whole paper was relevant to the topic... it just had some info in the abstract that was relevant. But then again, I didn't read the whole article.

And you're welcome. It's nice having a good science discussion... been too long! So thank you for that!

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