Friday, 12 July 2013

Is it possible to go preservative free with your skincare?


This post has been inspired by chatting with other people about what they want from their natural skincare. Lately I have become more and more interested in other people's journeys to natural, why they choose natural/organic products and what ingredients they avoid, recently preservatives have come up in conversation a few times (Phenoxyethanol and Potassium sorbate particularly) and so it sparked the thought that then became a blog post.

One of the tricky things about writing a beauty blog focusing on more natural products is that different people have different requirements and needs, for example some people want the purest possible products, some are more concerned about environmental impact and some people just love natural products and are happy not to go into too much detail with either. The products I review are the products that I choose for me, but I am always aware that not everything will be suitable for everybody else. I always publish the full ingredients lists or point people in the right direction as where to find them for that very reason.

Anyone who reads this blog knows that I use products with preservatives and the occasional less than ideal ingredient, I am not perfect for a few reasons but mainly because the availability of perfect products is very low and I love my variety. But increasingly I have been thinking whether it would it be possible to eliminate all preservatives from your routine, and the simple answer is YES!

The reality of doing so of course is a little more complex and I personally am happy to use small amounts of preservatives, these are all products I have incorporated into my routine and tricks that I use to cut back on the amount of preservatives and synthetics I use:

Choose products that are free from water:

I have mentioned this before but anytime a product has water added it is going to mean it will need more preservatives in it, this is a necessary evil because otherwise products could look fine but could quickly end up with harmful bacteria growing in them. Even the Soil Association which is one of the strictest organic certifications in the world allows a preservative system for those products that need it, so be aware that going organic will not automatically mean preservative free.

Products such as natural oils and balms technically don't need preserving in the same way that water based products do, you are still not free from reading ingredients labels because some companies choose to use preservatives anyway, but there is no limit to the amount of gorgeous balms and oils on the market, it's where greener companies excel.

Using water free products also means that you can eliminate some of the emulsifiers and thickeners that again are used in cosmetics such as ethelyhexylglycerin or carbomer which sometimes can appear, even in natural products.

Most brands will have at least one product in their range that is oil or butter based so look out for those, and be selective. 

Learn to use your products in different ways:

You will find that the purest products in terms of ingredients can behave a little differently when it comes to application, this is something that you get used to. You will generally find that you don't have to use as much product too because they are more concentrated. I like to choose as many multi-tasking products as possible as this also helps to cut down on preservatives. My multi-tasking must haves:

Coconut oil: This has been mentioned many times before but this is a great product that can be used in a variety of ways. Personally I use it as a make up remover, as a hair mask as a moisturiser, if you want to cut down on the amount of products and preservatives you can't go far wrong with this.

Rose water: Another Of my favourite multi-tasking products I use this as a refreshing spritz over make up, to cool my body in the summer and it works wonders on heat rash too.

Rosehip oil: I use this for scars and it is wonderful on my nails and cuticles a really good all round nourishing oil. There are of course many other natural oils that I love, but more on those another day.

Make your own products:

Making your own products is a great way to avoid all preservatives, and many raw ingredients are actually quite budget friendly. I have made a few concoctions myself and really enjoyed it but I nearly always follow someone else's recipe. The other thing about making your own is that's it's also great fun, so get mixing!

If making your own is not for you, buying from smaller companies that hand make products in small batches is also a great idea.

Embrace Soap:

I have always been more of a shower gel person previously but recently I am starting to convert to soap bars. If you buy from the right companies soap can have a minimal ingredients list with no preservatives and can be used on the body, hands and in some cases on your hair. I always find foaming products such as shower gels and shampoos have some of the trickiest ingredients lists to read so by using soap you also ensure you are not caught out by any ingredients lurking that you may prefer to avoid!

Go mineral with your make up:

Make up is one of the hardest areas to switch to natural, I have found a more natural routine that I am happy with but some of the products I use I am well aware have small amount of synthetics. For natural make up with no nasty ingredients mineral make up is the way to go.

Some people find the loose powders too messy, and I agree that I too find that to be the case sometimes but companies are realising that people want pressed minerals and that is changing the face of natural cosmetics.

A few companies are starting to offer pressed options such as Lily Lolo and Green People I have chosen these because they are the best I personally have seen in terms of ingredients and I have tested them both, although there are more available on the market so expect to see more make up on the blog in the near future.

Those are my tips, I really hope that they help some of you out if you are looking to completely cut out preservatives, if you have any tips on this topic please feel free to post in the comments! Many of the brands I have talked about I have already reviewed so please take a look if you are interested in trying them.

Ana x


  1. Excellent post Ana, I love your informative posts. I learn so much from you, would you consider running a trial to see if you could? How hard would you find it? Very interesting xxx Jen xxxx

    1. I have cutting back on preservatives lately but I love my REN too much to give it up ha ha! Definitely always trying to improve though. So glad you liked it xx

  2. Thanks so much Ana, feel honored you wrote this for me and definitely will use these tricks! Thanks lovely! X

    1. No problem, thank you for the inspiration :) x

  3. Hi Ana - Preservatives are such an interesting area and like you I have come to love balms, butters and oils far more now. I have combination / oily skin so for me this has been a big jump in terms of what I use. Some blogs I read are very strict and others more lenient. I suppose it depends on what people are looking for but in the end I think the more we can avoid them the better xx

    1. Hi Charlie, yes I do agree, when I can find a preservative free product I am happy with I stick to it. It all does depend on personal preferences. xx


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