Here is the list of preservatives and preservative boosters (not counting antioxidants) that we are currently using in our products: Caprylhydroxamic acid, ethylhexylglycerin, gluconolactone, phenoxyethanol, salicylic acid, potassium sorbate, sodium benzoate, and chlorphenesin. The use percentage ranges from 0.01 to 2%, depending on the ingredient and product.
Here is the list of the preservatives that we never formulate with:
Parabens, Japanese honeysuckle extract, methylisothiazolinone, methylchloroisothiazolinone, or formaldehyde-releasers (i.e. quaternium-15, DMDM hydantoin, imidazolidinyl urea, diazolidinyl urea, polyoxymethylene urea, sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, or bromopol).
Companies must use preservatives in any cosmetic product that contains water to ensure that potentially harmful microbial growth (i.e. bacteria, yeast, or fungus) does not occur. Products without water, like our face and body oils, often do not need preservatives.
Increasingly, many cosmetic companies state that they are “preservative free,” which is an unregulated term. If there is water in the product and they are making this claim, it is likely that one of the following is occurring: a) they suggest that you keep products refrigerated and you use them quickly, b) they are risking bacteria/mold/yeast growth, or c) they are using pre-preserved raw ingredients.