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Preservative-Free Products

Preservative-Free Products

Preservatives are an integral part of the vast majority of skin care products and cosmetics. Preservatives are routinely added to formulas to prevent the growth of microorganisms introduced into products through their use (or anticipated misuse).

Without preservatives, most skin care products would quickly succumb to mould, fungi and countless bacteria, transferred mainly by contaminated fingertips.

Unfortunately, preservatives are a common allergen for rosacea patients, whose compromised skin barrier leads to increased skin reactivity, producing common rosacea symptoms such as burning, stinging and redness.

More concerning, recent studies have also implicated commonly used preservatives as endocrine disruptors, contributing to photo-damage and increased incidences of cancer.

Examples of Commonly Used Preservatives

Preservative-Free Products


In 2002, a highly publicized study [1] identified high concentrations of parabens in breast cancer tissue and identified estrogenic effects of methyl paraben.

Thereafter it became increasingly common to see products marketed as being "paraben free" however it is important to note that alternatives to parabens have not been shown to be safer, nor do they have the long history of use of parabens.

Certainly some patients are more allergic to paraben alternatives.

Ideally, patients use skin care products free of preservative chemicals.

Preservative-Free Alternatives

Burning, stinging, itching and redness from skin care products and cosmetics is often alleviated by replacing conventional skin care with high skin tolerance alternatives which are free of all preservatives.

We avoid the use of preservatives in our products by virtue of one or more of the following:

  • Bacteriostatic formulation — bacteria, mould and fungi are unable to penetrate certain substances or combinations of ingredients and therefore are unable to reproduce. Vaseline (petrolatum) and hyaluronic acid/sodium hyaluronate are examples of bacteriostats [2]. Typically, concentrations of bacteriostatic ingredients need to be much higher than those found in conventional skin care products, however where the ingredient has benefits to rosacea, this leads to a superior product. For an example, see Rosacea Hydrating Serum.
  • Pharmacy preparation — unlike skin care products found in retail environments, our products do not require a long shelf life after production. Products are made on a daily basis to patient order and fulfilled within 24 hours. Once opened, we recommend the products be used within 4-6 months.
  • High antioxidant concentrationantioxidants with anti-inflammatory effects have been found to be highly beneficial not only in managing rosacea and premature skin aging but also in improving the stability and preservation of products when concentrations are raised and antioxidants combined [3,4].
  • Airless pump packaging — sometimes of benefit, in preference to jar or tube packaging, prevents product contact with environmental oxygen and fingertips. For an example, see Bakel Skin Care.
  • Anhydrous formulation — products free of water are less likely to require preservatives. For examples, see Decleor Aromessences and Balms.


1. Concentrations of parabens in human breast tumours.

2. Bacteriostatic effects of hyaluronic acid.

3. Skinceuticals CE Ferulic Published Scientific Data.

4. Review of Photo-damage and Oxidative Stress Protection Provided by Topical Antioxidants.

Preservative-Free Products

Further Information

David Suzuki Foundation — Parabens In Cosmetics: "Methylparaben applied on the skin reacts with UVB leading to increased skin aging and DNA damage [Ref: Paraben Preservatives and Sun Damage]... Parabens occur naturally at low levels in certain foods."

Breast Cancer Fund — Parabens.

Neal's Yard Remedies — The Parabens Are Safe Myth.

Some general skin care paraben-free brands: "While you are out shopping for a safer, less toxic skin care product to replace the paraben-filled ones you have, keep in mind that natural and organic does not necessarily mean paraben-free or non-toxic."

Fifteen Paraben-Free Beauty Products.

Vogue Australia Magazine Discussion Forum: Paraben Free Skin Care.

The Guardian UK: Paraben-Free Products.

Skyn Iceland Paraben-Free Skin Care.

Author: Peter Wilson.

Reviewed: Sunday, 24 November 2013.

Further Information: Preservative-Free Products :


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