let's talk shelf life and preservatives
by Chaymae Samir
June 10, 2020
most of our products are self-preserving, meaning they are preserved using natural ingredients and clever formulation. for example, our glow up toner is so naturally acidic that it’s self-preserving, even if our formula contains water, bacteria can’t survive or grow in it. same goes for our rosewater, made by steam-distillation, the steaming process completely sanitises the water, killing all bacteria.
in the case of more complex formulas, it kinda is a must to use functional ingredients to keep them safe and consistent: think preventing bacteria to grow, improving consistency and texture. but no panic, they’re not as scary as they sound!
the most common functional ingredients we use are:
- phenoxyethanol: a preservative of which we use as little as possible, equating to a much smaller percentage than the maximum amount allowed by the EU. we’re working hard to source naturally-derived ones that are just as effective.
- polysorbate 20: most often derived from lauric acid, which is derived from coconuts, this ingredient helps us mix water and oil, and not have them play an Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt on us, in other words, separate from each other and break our heart.
- isopropyl myristate: an ester of isopropyl alcohol (aka rubbing alcohol) and myristic acid (a fatty acid that naturally occurs in coconut oil). it’s so good at reducing the greasy feel of other ingredients like shea butter.
- benzoin tincture: a solution of benzoin resin in alcohol, it’s tapped from the trunk of benzoin trees, native to Sumatra, Thailand and Java. benzoin is a natural preservative, which makes it a great ingredient for our low-preservative cosmetic formulas. It also forms a protective film over dehydrated skin, which stops it from losing moisture. win win.
we also often get asked if our facial oils ever expire. the reality is that facial oils carry higher price tags than most moisturisers, as they contain higher levels of actives. they therefore tend to deliver quicker results but their shelf life is limited to 18 months. pro tip: keep them in a cool place, out of direct sunlight (ideally in their original container), and avoid leaving them unsealed while you Netflix and chill.
for real, in general, our thinking is: do we rather want our customers to use our products fresh when the ingredients are most active or do we want them to get a product that sure, never goes off, but sits on the bathroom shelf and doesn’t really deliver?