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Fermented Radish Root

For years, synthetic preservatives have been viewed as a necessary evil in water-based beauty products. Of course, there’s a lot of research indicating possible links between these synthetic preservatives and health issues – from causing cancer to disrupting hormone functions. No thanks. Since many brands, despite claiming to be natural or organic, still use synthetic preservatives, I have found them difficult to avoid. Most times my options are:

  • Buy products made by companies that don’t use any preservatives. This can be expensive and a little risky, because they have a short shelf life, raising the risk of microorganisms growing. Of course, that can cause unpleasant skin reactions and nasty infections.
  • Make my own. This option is a little cheaper, but still risky and also time consuming.

Of course, there are grapefruit seed extract, vitamin E rosemary oil extract and honey, but a lot of manufacturers debate the efficacy of each of these depending on the formulation of the final product. And these aren’t broad spectrum and therefore isn’t effective for water-based products. There is now another option: Fermented radish root. Never heard of it? Well, reputable beauty companies are already using and loving it. Here are some quotes about it:

“We are very strict about all of the ingredients that we use in our products, and this has worked well for us,” says Clare Albers, a marketing manager at Tata Harper. “Radish root is used in all of our water-based formulas.” – Clare Albers, Marketing Manager, TaTa Harper

“I am using the radish root extract as a preservative system for all of my products,” says founder of Luminance Skin Care Kim Emanuel. “It is simply the most effective and non-harmful preservative I have ever found.”

A freshly picked bunch of organically grown radish. photo by Simon Howden

Fermented radish root sounds like an odd thing to use on skin, but when you understand how it works and how it was created, it makes a lot of sense.

Fermented radish root extract is also referred to as Leucidal Liquid, named by its creator Active Micro Technologies (more on them later). Basically, Leucidal Liquid acts as a broad spectrum antimicrobial– meaning, like any artificial preservative, it prevents microorganisms from growing in beauty products, extending shelf life and keeping them safe for use.

Leucidal Liquid is created through the fermentation of Lactobacillus—a microorganism used to make the popular Korean dish Kimchi. Kimchi is a known probiotic and offers those who eat it many health benefits, so it isn’t a surprise that it is safe to put on our skin.

The acidity of the Lactobacillus, as well as the antimicrobial peptides it produces, prevents micro-ogranisms from growing. This makes it a great option for use as a natural preservative, without the potential side effects of synthetic preservative.

The back story on how radish root extract made it into cosmetics is fascinating. Several years ago, during a SARS epidemic, Korean researchers looking for a cure, did an experiment and observed that chickens eating Kimchi were recovering more quickly than chickens not eating it. The kimchi was clearly doing something to assist in defeating the virus.

Active Micro Technologies (then known as Active Micro Systems) wondered if Lactobacillus could potentially prevent the growth of other microorganisms, leading to questions about preserving skin care. So they began experiments. They are now the leader in the natural preservation market.

Parabens, Phenoxyethanol, and Isothiazolinones aren’t the only preservatives out there. Many companies still use them, so continue reading labels, but rest assured we now have more to choose from.

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