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What are Natural Preservatives?

What are Natural Preservatives?

I began making goat milk soap and other bath & body products for my family in 2005 because I wanted to avoid all the chemicals and unwanted ingredients that are found in most commercial skincare products.

One of the many ingredients I wanted to avoid using on my family's skin was chemical preservatives. But as I started to research, I discovered that there really isn't any such thing as a "natural preservative". And so I decided to only make skincare products that don't require preservatives at all.

What are preservatives?

Preservatives are commonly used in both food and skincare products. They are anti-microbial solutions that are designed to prevent mold, bacteria, and other nasties from growing.

While avoiding bacteria and mold may sound like a great goal, chemical preservatives themselves can be harmful and should be avoided. 

Here are just a few examples of commonly used preservatives found in skincare products (but remember, you'll never see them used in any Goat Milk Stuff items).

  • Germaben: For preserving both dry and water-based products. Consists of Propylene Glycol (a viscous, colorless liquid), Diazolidinyl Urea, Propylparaben, Methylparaben.
  • EDTA: (ethylenediamine tetraacetic acid) EDTA binds metal ions that could make products go rancid.
  • Optiphen, Optiphen ND, Optiphen Plus: These are broad-spectrum preservatives that are effective against bacteria and yeast. Consists of Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol, Sorbic Acid.
  • Phenonip: A liquid preservative used to prevent the full range of microbial growth. 

And here are a few examples of commonly used ingredients that are not actually preservatives:

  • Grapefruit Seed Extract: A thick, golden antioxidant that helps prevent oils from going rancid. It will not prevent bacterial growth.
  • Rosemary Oil Extract: A natural, oil-soluble extract that also helps prevent rancidity in oils.
  • Vitamin E:  A thick oil that is beneficial for the skin and a wonderful anti-oxidant. It also does not have preservative properties.

It is important to recognize that these ingredients are definitely not preservatives.  Antioxidants are wonderful, but they do not have any sufficient anti-microbial qualities and do not prevent mold, bacteria, and nasties from growing.

If you are using any skincare products that have these ingredients marketed as a "natural preservative" please be careful of the safety of the product in question. I have never seen a study showing that any of these ingredients are actually effective as a preservative in skincare products.

While these ingredients have great properties and are wonderful in skincare, they are not preservatives. So beware of any product that uses one of these ingredients as a "natural preservative."

When are preservatives needed?

Chemical preservatives are needed in liquid products (such as liquid lotion, liquid shampoo, conditioners, gels, creams) because bacteria and nasties require liquid environments to grow. 

At Goat Milk Stuff, we will not use preservatives, and so we simply do not make any products that require preservatives.

For example, whenever possible, we prefer to use fresh, raw goat milk. But since bacteria and nasties will grow in liquid goat milk lotions, we only make solid lotions with dehydrated goat milk.

Because we do not add any liquid to the solid lotions, bacteria does not grow in it. If we used raw goat milk, we would have to add chemical preservatives and the benefits of the raw goat milk would be negated by the presence of the preservative. In contrast, solid lotions are safe to use without any preservatives required. 

What about liquid goat milk soap, which is obviously a liquid environment? Both liquid and bar forms of goat milk soap do not require preservatives because the pH levels of soap prevent the growth of mold and bacteria. So they are also safe products to use without any preservatives required.

At Goat Milk Stuff, we strive to make skincare products that are healthy and safe for your skin. You can trust Goat Milk Stuff to avoid chemical preservatives and make skincare products that safely nourish and protect your family's skin. 

"I have looked at various companies who make goat milk soap and your family is the only one that I have found uses only natural ingredients. The others add chemicals and claim they are “natural “. I feel confident knowing that your soap truly contains all natural ingredients." - Camille
"For someone who takes care of their skin I wasn't sure if I would see a big difference. This soap is the "icing on the cake" for me, even using it as a shampoo. I take a few vitamins and was just confused, why do the healthy thing then dump all the chemicals in soaps all over you. No longer have that feeling, these products are awesome. Please keep up the purity in your products. Your company is the way many more should be." - Kevin
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