Are all preservatives necessarily bad?

Posted by Empress Naturals on

With more and more research being done on the various beauty products that we like to use on our skin, researchers have found that there are good preservatives, and bad preservatives that can be extremely toxic and harmful. 

Preservatives as a whole are largely misunderstood in the beauty and skincare sphere. It is a common misconception that all preservatives need to be avoided and that cosmetics are automatically healthier without them, when in reality that is not necessarily true at all.

Are all preservatives bad

Without a preservative component, the skin care products that we use in our daily lives would go bad merely days after being created. Preservatives prevent things like bacteria and mold from developing within products, so it is extremely necessary that they are utilized in some capacity.

It is, however, very important to be able to tell the difference between the good preservatives, and the toxic preservatives that can be harmful to us. 



Parabens (methylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, ethylparaben) are extremely carcinogenic. They are used in several different cosmetics including many makeup, skin, and hair care products.

The reason why they are to be avoided is because they can disrupt hormones, harm the reproductive system, and can even increase the risk of breast cancer. No product is worth all of these risks!


Formaldehyde is an infamously known carcinogen particularly when its fumes are inhaled. It is linked to causing cancer and many other illnesses. People can also be severely allergic to it, as it has been known to cause reactions in people like redness, itching, swelling, inflammation, bumps, and blisters.  


Sulfates are commonly used to help make products foam and lather– you might be familiar with this word from reading it on many shampoo bottles, and soap packaging.

It can cause irritation to the skin and dry out hair because of how harsh it can be. Because of how it can potentially strip too many natural oils from skin and hair, many brands like to advertise that they make their products without these harsh chemicals. 


Phthalates have been linked to developmental and reproductive toxicity and cancer. They have been banned from cosmetics in the EU, but still remain in products developed in the United States. 

Other harmful preservatives

DMDM Hydantoin is a common formaldehyde releaser. With mercury, science has shown that exposure to it has been linked to a plethora of serious health problems. 

Mercury is one of the more obviously toxic preservatives on this list, but it is still worth mentioning simply because of how bad it is. The use of mercury higher than 1 ppm in cosmetics was banned in the United States in the early 70s.

It has the power to severely damage the kidneys and nervous system, and can cause mercury poisoning which is incredibly toxic to humans. 


Not all preservatives are bad

On the bright side, not all preservatives need to be avoided! Many of them are safe, yield positive results, and effectively do what they are supposed to do ; preserving skin care products. Here are a few that could be helpful to know:

  • Phenoxyethanol is a naturally occurring preservative that is safe to use in concentrations of 1% or less
  • Benzyl Alcohol is also found in nature and can be created synthetically as well. Naturall, it is found in plants, teas, and some fruits.
  • Sodium Benzoate is a salt that is found in some fruits 
  • Potassium Sorbate is a salt that is also found in nature, and is a component in berries
  • Ethylhexylglycerin is derived from coconut and palm oil and is used as a substitute to harmful parabens


At Empress Naturals, we are passionate about our stellar ingredients: No GMOs, parabens, artificial fragrances, sulfates, silicones, synthetic dyes, and most importantly, no harsh preservatives! 

We are 100% organic and anhydrous because the absence of water means you get potent organic actives with zero dilution. Without water in the products, there is no need for potentially harmful preservatives, because you deserve only the best!

A rich concentration of ingredients means that you are likely to see results faster. It’s a win win!


The common misconception that ALL preservatives are bad is something that needs to be debunked and denounced immediately.

If a product is water based or contains water, it needs to also include a preservative in order to prevent the product from spoiling and developing mold, bacteria, and yeast– all things that you want to stay far away from your skin and face.

Skincare preservatives

Skin care products in particular are especially prone to growing bacteria because of how much water they contain, and it is important for more people to be familiar with good preservatives vs. bad ones that must be avoided. 

Shop with Empress Naturals today if you are on the lookout for gentle skin products that safely guard the condition of your product, and of course your skin as well.

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