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Int J Cosmet Sci. 2009 Jun;31(3):163-75. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-2494.2009.00492.x. Epub 2009 Mar 19.

Self-preserving cosmetics.

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1
Department of Aesthetics and Cosmetology, School of Health & Caring Professions, Technological Educational Institution, Egaleo, Greece. avarvares@teiath.gr

Abstract

Preservatives are added to products for two reasons: first, to prevent microbial spoilage and therefore to prolong the shelf life of the product; second, to protect the consumer from a potential infection. Although chemical preservatives prevent microbial growth, their safety is questioned by a growing segment of consumers. Therefore, there is a considerable interest in the development of preservative-free or self-preserving cosmetics. In these formulations traditional/chemical preservatives have been replaced by other cosmetic ingredients with antimicrobial properties that are not legislated as preservatives according to the Annex VI of the Commission Directive 76/768/EEC and the amending directives (2003/15/EC, 2007/17/EC and 2007/22/EC). 'Hurdle Technology', a technology that has been used for the control of product safety in the food industry since 1970s, has also been applied for the production of self-preserving cosmetics. 'Hurdle Technology' is a term used to describe the intelligent combination of different preservation factors or hurdles to deteriorate the growth of microorganisms. Adherence to current good manufacturing practice, appropriate packaging, careful choice of the form of the emulsion, low water activity and low or high pH values are significant variables for the control of microbial growth in cosmetic formulations. This paper describes the application of the basic principles of 'Hurdle Technology' in the production of self-preserving cosmetics. Multifunctional antimicrobial ingredients and plant-derived essential oils and extracts that are used as alternative or natural preservatives and are not listed in Annex VI of the Cosmetic Directive are also reported.

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