Parabens: Natural Alternatives Exists | The Healthy Beauty Project -by Todra Payne

A natural alternatives for parabens is awaiting patent.

Parabens: Natural Alternatives Exists

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Geranium essential oil inhibits yeast, mold, fungi and some bacteria in beauty products

Recently, as consumers have voiced concerns over synthetic preservative such as parabens, and their link to breast cancer, mainstream cosmetic formulators have claimed parabens are the only way to truly keep cosmetics safe and give a long shelf life.

This simply is not true. Parabens are a cheaper way of preserving products, but certainly not the only way. And every day, formulators are working to introduce more natural options.

Sabinsa, a natural ingredients supplier, claims to have created a natural preservative that works better than parabens for use in cosmetics and personal care products.

As consumers and governmental bodies (mostly in Europe) are creating demand and regulations for products that do not contain synthetic compounds, formulators and suppliers are scrambling to find alternatives to the long used staples.

A rep from Sabinsa said they chose to work on their proprietary blends of antimicrobial actives because synthetic compounds are coming under scientific and regulatory scrutiny. The environmental profiles of some synthetic compounds are also a concern for many eco-conscious consumers.

But preservatives of some form are necessary to give cosmetics longer shelf life and keep bacteria from becoming a problem.

Sabinsa claims their blend is made of completely natural ingredients such as essential oil fractions and extracts. The company sites that the blend, unlike other natural preservatives, will not change the appearance of the finished formulations. They stress that the formulations are completely safe for use at the recommended levels.

A patent is pending for these new compounds.

Todra PayneWritten by:

About Todra

Passionate about natural and non-toxic cosmetics. Vegetarian. Professional Actor. Founder of The Healthy Beauty Project. Available for speaking engagements and after-work Mojitos.

11 Responses to “Parabens: Natural Alternatives Exists”

  1. admin says:

    Dean,

    Thanks for your response. We didn't say Parabens were the only available preservative. Whether they are the best or not, that is a matter of what tour opinion of "best" is. The controversy surrounding parabens aren't for nothing.

  2. Dene Godfrey says:

    3 main points, here:

    1) Natural is not automatically safe; synthetic is not automatically dangerous – this, I'm afraid, is simply naive

    2) Some parabens exist in nature, in many plants and a few insects

    3) You CAN patent natural substances, but it depends entirely on what is being patented. It is possible to patent combinations of ANY substances, if there is something novel about the combined effect. A patent has to be novel, be it a combination of substances, a manufacturing process etc.

    And, just for the record, no self-respecting cosmetic scientist would ever claim that parabens are the ONLY options for preserving cosmetics, but they are certainly amongst the best available.

  3. Erin ely says:

    well, I don't see how you can say they are greenwashing yet…. we have not seen the ingredients list yet, but maybe we won't since it's patented…

    it also says right on their site that they manufacture "specialty fine chemicals"

    in regards to patent…. monsanto has patented their genetically modified seeds… seeds are from nature…

    I think it's incorrect to say you cannot patent something from nature… the way I under stand it: you cannot patent laws of nature, products of nature, and abstract ideas, but you can patent something from nature if its a fundamental change of what it does in nature, or something like that

    I searched this on the internet to see what info was there was specifically about this topic… you can actually patent things from nature but there are rules around it.
    https://www.catalogs.com/info/how-to/patent-somet

    you can actually patent plants:

    "Plant patents may be granted to anyone who invents or discovers and asexually reproduces any distinct and new variety of plant."

    there are already things from nature that are patented, like seeds from monsanto, genomes, ribosomes

    but back to the greenwashing, I think it remains to be seen if they are greenwashing.

    I can tell you that miessence does not use any synthetic chemicals to preserve their products. They have a tested shelf life of 30 months for many of their products.

    What sends a red flag for me is this sentence: "A judicious blend of art and science…."

    anytime I see that word "science" it's a tip off to me they are talking about chemicals… that's just my thinking on it..

    I'll hold my opinion on the greenwashing until I see what the product is.

  4. Emily says:

    I see another snag there, "…safe for use at the recommended levels…"

    This is how we got in our current situation with endocrine disruptors such as phthalates, bisphenol A and parabens.

    Each individual product *is* safe. However, when you add up all the products an average consumer uses during the course of a normal day, the levels from *multiple* products with the same chemical class is no longer safe.

    For an extreme example, a little arsenic on your potatoes at dinner is not going to hurt you. However, arsenic in your potatoes, gravy, meat, vegetable, drink, coffee and desert will likely have you dead by morning.

    So, when I see 'safe at recommended levels', I get just a tad bit nervous and wouldn't want that.

    They should take the safe route, stick to the geranium or other highly effective, proven safe, natural preservatives. And I just took a hot bath with geranium and lemongrass – I smell yummy!

  5. The patent application (if I found the right one) describes a preservation system – the system happens to use a blend of plant based ingredients, but they have been processed. It appears to consist of ingredients that are mostly processed relatively naturally – steam, with sodium hydroxide, etc. although citral can be naturally sourced or petroleum based. One would have to understand how each ingredient for the blend is sourced to really determine if it is greenwashing or not.

  6. Todra Payne says:

    I requested an interview directly with a rep from the company. We'll see if they want to respond or not.

  7. Yes, it's the patenting. Most true natural brands use "proprietary blends" of herbs, botanicals & essential oils that are natural preservatives. But, those blends aren't patented and can't be. The ratios are proprietary, but the actual ingredients aren't. The fact that they didn't give you ingredients to evaluate is also a red flag for me. I would love to know more. Sounds like they are giving a marketing statement and hoping you'll run with it without investigating further.

    Now, if they've used Green Chemistry to synthesize, I'd be ok with that. But usually companies that use Green Chemistry are usually pretty up front about it.

    @Emily, I would say your statement about them "pulling the wool over our eyes with another chemical is safe" is accurate and ad that they're implying that it's natural when all evidence point to it not being is what makes it greenwashing.

    Also, there is a difference between a dangerous item being naturally occurring (ie: arsenic) and something being "derived from" a natural ingredient. That term "derived from" is your 1st clue that it has gone through a chemical process and is no longer natural. Extractions are natural, derived from aren't.

  8. Emily says:

    Nano-technology does not have to be disclosed. I don't know much about this new technology, but if the manufacturer will not put all their cards on the table, I'm thinking they are lying about what's in their hand.

    Everything is naturally occurring, if you want to get technical. Lead, arsenic, asbestos, parabens, petroleum, natural gas, etc. But these aren't things I'd want in a patented 'new compound'.

  9. Emily says:

    There are way too many natural choices to use as preservatives, there is simply no reason to choose a risky synthetic option.

    We've got grapefruit, choice of base oils with a long shelf life such as sunflower and coconut, increased naturally occurring vitamin E, as well as C and other anti-oxidants. All of these have been proven safe and effective over and over again.

    I have lotions and creams in my shop that I held as product samples to monitor for molds or other signs of bacterial growth that are over 8 years old and are still as fresh and wonderful as the day they were first made.

    There is no reason for chemical concoctions, animal testing and enormous resources to be used to determine if yet another chemical is safe, only to find out 20 to 50 years later that the chemical is not safe, or not safe in combination with other chemicals.

    Greenwashing? Maybe. But more like pulling the wool over our eyes with yet another promise that yet another chemical is 'safe'.

  10. Todra Payne says:

    Danika,

    I'm not saying you're wrong, but lots of cosmetic companies today provide up to one year shelf life on their products and they claim they preserve with all natural ingredients. Is it simply the fact that this brand is trying to patent the blend that sends up red flags for you?

  11. If they are able to patent the product, then then they have been synthesized and "technology" has been introduced. I'd want to know exactly what's in it, and what chemical processes they've gone through. Most processes involve nasty chemicals.

    You can't patent things that come from nature, not even proprietary blends, so the patenting process tells me their preservative might have come from natural ingredient but that the process they've gone through means they are no where near natural anymore and don't have the same safety levels. Vodka is synthesized from potatoes, but it is not potatoes anymore. Petroleum wax & jelly comes from crude oil, but have gone through intensive chemical processes and are no longer considered natural ingredients.

    I don't buy it at all. Sounds like a good case of greenwashing to me.

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