Adding preservatives to aromatherapy skincare products, istockphoto, used with permission
Adding preservatives to aromatherapy skincare products, istockphoto, used with permission

One of the most frequent questions that I get asked with regard to making aromatherapy skincare products is when to use a preservative in the product. I don’t include preservatives in aromatherapy recipes which I provide online, in one of the Sedona Aromatherapie courses, or one of the Sedona Aromatherapie e-booklets. However, there might be times when you would like to add a preservative into your skincare product; this is discussed in more detail in several of the Sedona Aromatherapie courses, but here’s a quick guide to the type of products that might require a preservative.

Use of Preservatives in Cosmetic Products

In simple terms, preservatives prolong the life of a skincare product. Commercially produced cosmetic and aromatherapy products contain a high proportion of preservatives (usually the long unpronounceable names that you find listed in the ingredients!) because they might sit on the store shelf for many months before they are purchased. However, if you are making aromatherapy and cosmetic products at home, you can make in smaller quantities and use up your product in a shorter space of time, eliminating the need for a lot of preservatives, if you use and store your product correctly, in addition to using high quality essential oils and base products.

Preservatives help to control the growth of bacteria in a product, which might be introduced into the skincare product in the following ways:

  • through the addition of water in the product

  • through prolonged contact with the air

  • through hands

  • through an unclean work area

  • through the wrong type of storage.

Types of Aromatherapy Products Which Require Preservatives

The following types of aromatherapy and cosmetic products usually require the addition of a preservative (unless you are planning on using the product within a few days):

  • water-based products (including hydrosols)

  • lotions

  • creams.

Types of Aromatherapy Products Which Don’t Require Preservatives

The following types of cosmetic and aromatherapy products don’t usually require the addition of a preservative, if you use and store the product correctly and use high quality essential oils and base products:

  • oil-based aromatherapy balms

  • oil-based aromatherapy butters

  • aromatherapy bath salts

  • aromatherapy bath bombs

  • aromatherapy bath melts

  • aromatherapy scrubs

  • aromatherapy bath oils

  • aromatherapy massage oils.

TIP: avoid the introduction of water into the bath products when storing for later use.

Sedona Aromatherapie Product Making Courses for Body and Bath

If you are interested in learning more about making aromatherapy and cosmetic products with aromatherapy ingredients, take a look at one of the Sedona Aromatherapie courses such as the Basic Butters, Balms, Creams and Lotions course or the Sedona Aromatherapie Aromatherapy Bath Products course (coming winter 2012/13). Both courses are suitable for the beginner in aromatherapy product making.

The advice given in this post applies to making aromatherapy and cosmetic products for home use; if you intend to make products for retail, you will need to do additional research with regard to the laws and regulations on the sale of cosmetic products in the state/country of manufacture and sale.

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