Posted by Tammie Umbel, CEO Shea Terra Organics on 9/5/2016
internet offers a depth of knowledge never before available. But where does
this information come from? Can anyone write their opinion and make it appear
to come from an authority or expert on the topic? For a few years there was “information”
floating around the internet that lavender essential oil was cancer causing.
People would call up and ask us to remove lavender essential oil from our face
oil because it caused cancer. Then came baobab oil. It was reported to cause
cancer as well. Who are the experts who start these unscientific scare stories?
Often times they trace back to “business” people attempting to discredit
certain popular ingredients in order to sell their own products.
I first started formulating products almost two decades ago I was faced with
the unpleasant task of having to choose a preservative to keep our products
safe. Anytime water/ aloe/ or hydrosol is mixed with oil to make a product it
requires a preservative to keep it from growing yeast, fungus and bacteria. I
tested every single natural preservative along the way, and they all fell short
of properly preserving products. There was a very effective, all natural
preservative based on cinnamon. However, it caused a slight itch and the
cinnamon aroma was overwhelming. Japonica (honesuckle) did not work at all.
Some “natural” preservatives were actually found to have synthetic
preservatives in them including parabens.
a few years of testing I finally decided upon a preservative which was very
natural but needed just a little bit of synthetic sodium benzoate to keep it
safe from yeast and fungus. When used in one percent the preservative would
deem a product to be 99.7% natural. Unlike many “natural” preservatives I had
tested this combination worked extremely well at keeping lotions safe for
years. Sodium benzoate occurs naturally in nature. In this preservative it is
replicated synthetically. It has been proven to be a very mild and safe
preservative which people have been consuming for many decades, and even more
so naturally when consuming fruits.
Foods has deemed the preservative safe for skin care usage, and ECOCERT has
classified its combination with natural glucono delta lactone as a safe
preservative for certified organic products. So what has spurred the internet
panic about sodium benzoate? SODA. The kind you drink. Many of us avoid sodas
because they are made with ingredients that can lead to diabetes and
overweight. But cancer? Studies found that when sodium benzoate and vitamin C
were combined at a ph of 2 they can potentially produce a compound called
is why the dangers of this does not apply to skin care and why health food
moghuls like Whole Foods still deem the preservative safe for skin care. Benzene
can be created when sodium benzoate is combined with vitamin C at a ph of 2.
This is something that a lot of online articles seem to overlook. They often
mention that sodium benzoate and vitamin C combined forms benzene without
giving the whole picture. Skin care products are rarely a ph of 2. You would
never want your moisturizer to be a ph of 2. This is equivalent to moisturizing
your skin with vinegar. To date there are NO studies showing that benzene has
ever formed in skin care products. If this was the case there would be plenty
of studies showing this to be the case. Online blog posts and articles never
mention the fact that there are NO studies showing that any skin care product
made with sodium benzoate has ever formed benzene. There are online quotes of
studies that show that sodium benzoate killed yeast cells which were used due
to their similarity to human cells. Well, uh, yes, this is the whole point of
using sodium benzoate. It is in the preservative to kill yeast cells. It is not
surprising that the sources of many of these “articles” also have their own
skin care products to sell.
why bother using products with a preservative in the first place? Why not just
use an oil or butter? While oils and butters are marvelous for keeping skin
smooth and supple, they ARE NOT moisturizers. Despite frequently being mis-marketed
as moisturizers, oils and butters are not supposed to have moisture in them.
Moisture in oils and butters would cause them to grow mold. Moisturizers
require liquids such as water or aloe in order to hydrate and plump cells. The
issue with simply applying moisture on the skin is that it is quickly
evaporated, rarely penetrating the skin. Otherwise our body would soak up
moisture like a sponge, and we would literally drown. In order to hold moisture
onto skin, thus making it available for cells to utilize, moisturizers are
needed. They combine oil and moisture (water/ aloe/ hydrosol) together by
binding them with an emulsifying wax which holds liquid on skin. Moisturizers
are particularly important for aging skin which loses moisture rapidly. But all
moisturizers need a proper preservative system to keep them safe.
moisturizers are not properly preserved they form mold, yeast, and fungi in
just a few hours. All natural preservatives sometimes work for a few weeks.
Some are actually made with synthetic preservatives so that one thinks the
preservative is natural but actually has hidden synthetic preservatives doing
all the work. Our first priority is to keep our customers safe. Growths in skin
care products can result in blindness, allergies and even death. We cannot use
a 100% natural preservative that is effective for only three months and risk
someone becoming deadly ill from microbes in a product which they cannot see
with the human eye. Moisturizers are very important in keeping skin youthful. Proper
preservation of these moisturizers is even more important. A tiny amount of
synthetic preservative in skin care solutions which have never been linked to
benzene is the safest way we have found to give you the best moisturizers to
keep your skin plump and supple.
this point I think it is very important to talk about the honesty of reporting
preservatives. For years there have been companies that hide the preservatives that
they use in their products. Sometimes they list only natural preservatives but
leave off the synthetic ones. Sometimes they simply don’t list any preservative
at all. For example, there are several companies that do not list the
preservative used to preserve their aloe vera. Aloe vera MUST always be
preserved whether it is combined with an oil or not. Aloe vera is usually preserved
with sodium benzoate so likelihood there is sodium benzoate in a product
whether listed or not. We ship our preservative to Texas so that it is the only
preservative used to make our freshly pressed aloe vera juice so it is always
accurately listed on our labels. Legally, when a preservative is used in a
small fraction it does not need to be listed on labels. In addition, a company
could use five different preservatives and since they can use each in such a
small dosage they are not required to list it on their labels. That does not
mean that your skin care product is full of preservatives, some which include
parabens. We recommend purchasing from companies that list even the potentially
undesirable preservatives on the premise that they are being honest. There are
a slew of hidden preservatives in skin care products even in products claiming
to be 100% natural.