Why Your Skincare Products Need Preservatives

By Minji

  • As much as we would all like to avoid preservatives in our skincare products, they are a necessary evil 
  • Quality matters when it comes to preservatives so make sure you check labels
  • Soffli’s products only contain gentle and clean preservatives that are non-sensitizing and non-toxic! 

As someone who often likes to compare skincare products to food, I understand the concern around preservatives in skincare products. Just like most of us would prefer to eat fresh food without preservatives, many of us cringe at the thought of applying skincare products with strong chemical preservatives on our skin, the body’s largest organ.

I totally get it and would like to personally avoid preservatives as much as I can, both in food and skincare products. Catering to this need in the market, I recently have come across a few skincare brands that advertise zero preservatives.  I was excited … but it ultimately didn’t make sense to me.

When I asked a brand representative how they make sure their products are protected from contamination and spoiling, the response I got back was, "you just need to be super careful to not contaminate your products and throw them out early." Also, when I researched further, despite the rep telling me they use zero preservatives, it actually turned out that they just don’t use chemical preservatives. Also attached was a laundry list of things you need to do to make sure your products don’t go bad before the expiration dates!

On the other hand, there are 100% oil-based brands that don’t use preservatives. Here I can understand the scientific basis for this since the microorganisms (bacteria, fungi, yeast, etc.) that typically can contaminate your skincare products grow readily in water and not oil. Even when I make my homemade face oil, I only add Vitamin E as an antioxidant and no additional preservatives.

However, I’m against an entire skincare regimen that doesn’t include water-based products (which need preservatives!). Hopefully it’s obvious by now, but your skin needs water-based ingredients to keeps its hydration levels and adequately moisturize your skin.  For me, my toner, serum and moisturizer all contain water, then I lock this in with my face oil as the last step, not the one and only step.

So if you’re like me and want to use the most clean, safe yet effective skincare products out there to maintain your skin health, instead of looking for products that claim to use no preservatives whatsoever (which can be dangerous and often cause more harm than good), look carefully instead to see which preservatives are used in your products. 

For example, the main ingredient that functions as a preservative in Soffli’s products is 1,2-Hexanediol. It’s a non-sensitizing preservative commonly found in clean beauty products that helps keep products safe and fresh. The EWG score on it is 1, which represent the lowest hazard and toxicity level they give out. We work closely with one of the top labs to make sure we include enough preservatives to keep our products fresh with thorough testing but never more than is necessary to make sure it doesn’t irritate your skin.

In addition, I recommend you try to stay away from preservatives in the form of formaldehyde, parabens, PEGs, sulfates and many other ingredients that often find their way into clean beauty dirty lists.

Hopefully this gives you a better sense of why we need preservatives and how to work them in to a healthy skincare routine, even when you would love to live without them.  Unless you’re willing to make or buy fresh skincare on a weekly basis, preservatives are a necessary evil and quality matters!