Firstly, Parabens and Preservatives are the same thing. Preservatives just took over when Parabens started getting a bad rap.
They are required in any product that contains water to prevent the growth of bad bacteria. Bad bacteria thrive in water and when water is part of a product formulation, bacteria can make its happy home there. Makes sense right? We know mould is a big fan of growing in our showers!
Therefore, Preservatives are important in skincare, to ensure the product remains safe (and pleasant!). But it's equally important not to add harmful chemicals to our products (which ultimately ends up on our skin, in our bloodstream and in the environment right?)
Why does MOTHER not use preservatives?
Preservatives/Parabens might do a stellar job at keeping bacteria away but the massive downside is they’ve been linked to health issues including reproductive toxicity, hormone disruption AND skin irritation (YIKES!)
More importantly, at MOTHER HQ we are all about helping your skin live its best life. The skin microbiome, is the term for the trillions of bugs that live on your skin. They are key to healthy skin so it's important to make sure these bugs are in balance and not disturbed.
Excess usage of antimicrobial ingredients like preservatives can cause an imbalanced skin microbiome. Think eczema, acne and accelerated ageing (No thanks!)
How do I know if a product has preservatives in it?
The only skincare that can be totally preservative free is formulas with no water (That's MOTHER peeps!). We are 100% oil based and proud as punch about it.
If the first ingredient on the back of the product is water (or aqua) you know it's using some form of preserving system.
Are all preservatives skin microbiome destroying machines?
Hold your horses, we did not say that! Let's clarify that yes preservatives do affect the skin microbiome but not all do so negatively.
Natural preservatives work a little different to their synthetic cousins. Instead of killing the bacteria they prevent them by creating an unfriendly environment. They are the security guards turning away the gate crashers at the bacteria party.
They can respect your skin microbiome while also keeping your skincare bacteria free!
Preservatives we like to have a look out for
PARABENS: methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben and isobutylparaben.
*Linked to breast cancer
FORMALDEHYDE: quaternium-15, DMDM hydantoin, imidazolidinyl urea, and diazolidinyl urea,
" Linked to being carcinogenic
*Can commonly cause skin allergies
While there are some great non-toxic preservative options out there and lets also clarify that nothing has been proven with certainty that synthetic preservatives are harmful, if you want to go totally preservative free, stick with oil based products like MOTHER SPF instead.