Dangers of “Preservative free Cosmetic”

Preservatives play important role in making sure that the cosmetics are free from harmful microorganisms. The formulators of cosmetic make sure that cosmetic products are developed to be placed in contact with human skin as safe as possible.

Why cosmetics get contaminated with microorganisms

There are several ways in which cosmetic get contaminated with bacteria and fungus. It is important to understand how microorganism get into cosmetics and become harmful to consumers. For example, every day we apply lipstick on our lips. The tube of lipstick comes in contact with the saliva in our mouth. Mascara brush applied to eye lashes, comes in contact with mucous membrane in our eyes. There are many potential ways cosmetics get contaminated as

  1. products used after expiry date
  2. stored in warm and humid conditions
  3. poor preservative system
  4. dipping fingers in cosmetics or in contact with saliva or mucous membrane

At present, governing body like FDA, EU Regulations, NICNAS, ASEAN etc. which regulates the limit of preservatives in cosmetics. This ensure the safe level of preservatives to human skin.

Let’s not follow the trend of buying everything “free-from” cosmetics! We are getting obsessed with the idea of “free from parabens”, “free from alcohol”, “free from PEG”, “free from formaldehyde”, “free from preservatives” etc. Let’s believe in safe cosmetics which has a decent to long shelf life with the help of effective preservative system.

natural ingredients, Policosanol

Policosanol: Potential Adjunct in Anti-Acne formulations

Policosanol is a mixture of higher aliphatic alcohols extracted from plants such as sugarcane(saccharum officinarum) or yams or from beeswax. It is produced, promoted and researched extensively in Cuba. The extract appears as off white to yellow powder


Policosanol Chemical Composition –

The highest percentage of alcohol present in policosanol is 1-octacosanol, 1-dotriacontanol, 1-tetracosanol, 1-tetratria-contanol, 1-hexacosanol, 1-heptacosanol and 1-nonacosanol.

Policosanol : Cosmeceutical application

  • Topical application controls sebum level of skin and scalp.
  • Natural anti microbial ingredient in anti acne formulations
  • Increases blood circulation of skin and liven up the blood cell
  • Effective in some skin diseases and inflammations like eczema,acne,skin allergy etc.
  • Promotes hydration and softening of skin
  • New patented solvent free extraction process has low environment impact.

Policosanol: How it is effective in controlling acne?

  • When excessive secretion of sebum by sebaceous glands , alteration in sebaceous ducts occurs leading to their blockage.
  • Further encourages proliferation and accumulation of bacterium propionibacterium acnes.
  • Human sebaceous gland can synthesize cholestrol from acetate and metabolize to steroids into potent androgens. Acne is known to be an androgenic skin disorders. There for agents that beneficially effects cholestrol metabolism may have a potential role in management of acne.
  • Policosanol is found to inhibit cholestrol biosynthesis and favorably influence sebum level in the skin.

Plicosanol: Formulation and preparation

Policosanol is recommended for oily skin as it provides all the sebum control benefit. The O/W and W/O formulations for oily skin and acne prone skin.

It is oil soluble at raised temperature, so it must be added in the oil phase of the emulsion. It contains mixture of higher fatty alcohols, so it has a high melting point and may increase viscosity of O/W preparation specially lotions.

Formula with Policosanol as an active ingredient

Phase A

  1. Decyl Oleate)-5.7%
  2. Ethylhexyl Stearate)-6.5%
  3. Glyceryl Stearate-0.5%
  4. Stearic Acid-0.5%
  5. Policosanol-0.5

Phase B

  1. Cetearyl Glucoside-1.0%
  2. Creatine-0.5%
  3. Glycerin-3.0%
  4. Water-80.1%

Phase C

  1. Carbomer-0.2%
  2. Ethylhexyl Stearate-0.8%

Phase D

  1. NaOH (10%)-0.7%
  2. Preservative, parfum-q.s.

Preparation of Policosanol lotion

  • · Heat phase A and B separately to approx. 80°C.
  • · Add phase B to phase A without stirring.
  • · Homogenize.
  • · Cool with gentle stirring to approx. 60°C and add phase C.
  • · Homogenize for a short time (20s).
  • · Cool with gentle stirring and add phase D below 40°C.

Sugar cane Plant
Sugar cane Plant


Policosanol is known to support cardiovascular health and wellness.As a cosmeceutical, Policosanol is an effective natural approach in modulating sebum levels in the skin and scalp, a natural antimicrobial adjunct in anti-acne formulations, and a non-animal derived emollient – a potential substitute for wool-derived lanolin in cosmetic formulations.

Source: sabinsa

Phase A

(Decyl Oleate)


Ethylhexyl Stearate)


(Glyceryl Stearate


Stearic Acid




Phase B

Cetearyl Glucoside








Phase C



Ethylhexyl Stearate


Phase D

NaOH (10%)


Preservative, parfum


natural ingredients

To What Extent Your Cosmetic is Natural?

If one accepts the meaning of natural as having a source in nature rather than being synthesized in a factory, then the animal, mineral & vegetable fats, oils & waxes, gums, sugar, mineral such as talc, kaolin, bentonite, hectorite, fuller’s earth, sulphur & mica, pearl essence, starches, rubber latex, placenta related extracts perhaps even alcohol derived by natural fermentation of carbohydrates & concentrates are all naturals.

The other synonym used for natural is organic, from a chemist point of view consider a substance organic if it is a carbon compound. Then all the oils, fats & waxes, emulsifiers, gums, polyols & their ether & esters, fragrance, soluble colorants etc. are organic. Then even most of the creams, lotions & oils are organic.

Most of the women believes that, natural or to some extent even organic is real, meaningful term when it comes to beauty products. But that’s not true – not yet anyway.

A natural product should be free from ” parabens, synthetic preservative, sulphates, animal products or any thing with suspected potential human health risk”.

Natural product should contain minimum of 95% natural ingredients.

In any case, natural certification shouldn’t be confused with safety testing (plenty of natural ingredient aren’t safe)