I recently read a blog with a DIY toner recipe. This water-based toner used all natural ingredients and sounded lovely. The author left out one important component, a preservation system. It inspired this post, as I love DIY skin care but only if it is safe.
Let's talk about why we need a preservative in the first place. If there is water in your product (which most products have), it will be exposed to mold, yeast and bacteria. The point of a preservative is to kill those microorganism's and keep your product and you safe. It is not a sexy ingredient or one that skin care companies feature but a super important one nonetheless.
Some of the natural beauty companies talk about being preservative free and how harmful preservatives are. That is not always the case. We are able to avoid using preservatives if the product is anhydrous, or without water. This would include a balm with butters and oils as a base. But other than that, using a preservative is almost always required especially if you are using targeted skin care and not just putting coconut oil on your face. (Not trying to talk smack I love coconut oil!)
Preservatives have a bad rep. One of the most unpopular preservative systems are parabens. They are believed to be hormone disruptors and have been found in human tissue. They have even been linked to breast cancer although the jury is still out on that according to the studies I have read. So why do companies still use them? They work to preserve the products and they are cheap. Bottom line.
Not Just in Skin Care
Parabens and other preservatives are not just found in cosmetics and personal care items. They are also put in our food, processed food that needs to be preserved because it is sitting on the shelves of the grocery store. (Another vote for eating healthy fresh foods here).
The Good News?
Because of demand and awareness of harmful preservatives, the industry now has many more options. Consumers are demanding clean ingredients all around and those of us in the natural world have many more options. So we can protect our products from harmful microorganism's and use a safe preservative system. I say system because we need a broad range to protect.
So back to the DIY toner recipe I mentioned above. While I love the idea of this toner and recommend DIY skin care (check out this post about Facial Masks here), having a water as its base is not safe unpreserved unless you use it up in a few days. The best news is we can safely protect our products and ourselves with the latest advances in natural friendly preservatives. It can be a complicated topic so feel free to leave a question below!