We often get asked how our non-toxic, clean skincare products stay fresh and unspoilt without added chemical preservatives. It’s an informative discussion to have, as most consumers succumb to the myth that companies must use chemical preservatives in their skincare range to keep it effective and safe for consumers. But those in the clean beauty realm know differently and are happily dispelling this myth thanks to research and experience.

For starters, most products have water on their INCI list which falls prey to waterborne bacteria and microorganisms and hence why preservatives are used. However, products that do not use water, termed anhydrous products, such as our oil-based Light & Energy Serum Cleanser are not prone to microbial contamination, especially when mixed with an antioxidant such as vitamin E or rosemary extract. In this case, an anti-oxidant serves as a natural preservative that reduces the rate of oxidisation (similar to your skin, when a product is exposed to oxygen, a chemical process occurs causing a product to eventually turn rancid) and extend the shelf life of oil-based products. Not to mention, the added benefit of an oil-based cleanser is not only profound hydration for dry skin but is incredibly balancing for acne prone skin (dispelling yet another myth). Lynn Flanagan-Till, an award-winning U.S based herbalist explains, “If you are constantly using harsh products to strip your skin of its natural oils, it only triggers the body to create more,” adds Flanagan-Till. Conversely, natural oils can help to calm and balance excess oil production.

There are many natural antioxidants found in nature – and not in a laboratory – that help preserve the freshness of a natural skincare product (that is not water based) and extend its useful life. Some natural preservatives include: vitamin E (which can help the stability of a product, but not kill bacteria growth), ascorbic acid (Vitamin C), rosemary extract, manuka honey, grapefruit seed extract, essential oils in blended forms and citric acid – to name a very few. 

Another integral method of preserving products is in the packaging. It is important to note that any packaging that is exposed to air (oxygen) and allows consumers to constantly dip their fingers into the product (our fingertips being a host for bacteria) increases the likelihood of cross contamination and preservation of a product. “Airless packaging” is essential in protecting the integrity of a product especially from the gasses in our atmosphere that can accelerate product decay. According to webpackaging.com, “In an airless package, the product only interacts with the air when it is dispensed, and even then the time between exposure and application is limited. So products contained in an airless package tend to last longer on the shelf and do not suffer from oxidisation.” Hence, why the need for preservatives are not necessary. All of our Romilly Wilde packaging is airless with a pump valve to protect the ingredients from contamination and oxidisation, which as stated is key in product preservation. This keeps the integrity of the active ingredients. 

It is also important to understand that all products will have a shelf life, and proper storage of your products is key. We recommend never keeping your products on a shelf in direct sunlight, or in extreme or damp temperatures. One’s bathroom, especially the shower, is the worst place to keep a product as it’s constantly damp from showers/baths and water can contaminate the product. In summer months, one can invest in a cosmetics fridge to keep your organic products cool and fresh; Ilona Safonova, founder and CEO of Makeup Fridge came up with the concept when she saw a friend storing her organic products next to her jam jars in the fridge, “I thought, why not create a fridge that’s cute and easy to use for anyone with a skin care routine?” And we couldn’t agree more, especially popping our Eye Believe Eye Serum into a mini fridge; the cool wand on puffy morning eyes is absolute bliss!

So, preserve and protect the natural way and stay committed to clean beauty, your skin and overall health will reap the benefits.