Monday, June 26, 2017

Weekday Wonderings: Substitutes for parabens in an emulsified scrub?

In this post, One ingredient, ten products: Incroquat BTMS-50 in an emulsified scrub, Febe asks: Love the recipe. I am concerned about Phenonip and the parabens. As I see the INCI Phenonip is Phenoxyethanol (and) Methylparaben (and) Ethylparaben (and) Butylparaben (and) Propylparaben. It has parabens and I am trying to stay away from them. I see others in the blog mention Optiphen. Do you think that is an alternative to Phenonip? Thanks in advance for your comments.

I love love love emulsified scrubs, and it sounds like you do, too! Although they don't contain water, they will be exposed to water, which means we have to use a preservative. But which kind?

There's a debate in our community as to which kind of preservative we should use in our products - oil soluble or water soluble - and I'll summarize it a bit here, then encourage everyone who's interested to check out the longer post for more information. The gist of it is that using an oil soluble only preservative means the preservative will be locked away in the oils of the scrub and won't be available when water is introduced. This means we should use a water soluble preservative.  It's suggested to include an emulsifier in the scrub regardless of the type of preservative you're using to ensure it is available when the time comes for it to act on its preserving power! I use something like liquid Germall Plus or Phenonip as they have water and oil soluble properties.

What about Optiphen? Yes, I think you can use Optiphen in an emulsified scrub as it seems to work for both anhydrous and hydrous products. But here's the problem: Optiphen isn't a broad spectrum preservative that can protect our products from bacteria, yeast, fungus, and mold, so we have to add something else to the mix to ensure it protects from mold. It's easier to use Optiphen ND as it is broad spectrum.

As a quick note, I don't want to tell people they can't choose which ingredients they wish to use, but I would encourage you to do read this column by the amazing Dr Joe Schwarcz from McGill University about the study upon which the paraben concerns are based. The summary is this: "This mistrust can be traced back to a 2004 paper by Dr. Philippa Darbre of the University of Reading that described finding traces of parabens, a commonly used class of preservatives, in breast tumours. The study received extensive press coverage, with few accounts pointing out that there had been no control group. Since parabens are widely used in foods and cosmetics, they can conceivably be detected in most everyone."

As a note, please don't put a product intended for your skin or bathtub in a tin container. It will rust and ruin both the product and the look of your fixtures, especially white ones! I know it looks cute - believe me, I use a lot of these tins for non-water containing products that won't be around water - but it will look awful after one or two showers or baths!

Related posts about preservatives or preserving scrubs:
Preservative section of the blog
Preservative comparison chart (download PDF on Google Drive)
Water activity and scrubs

Related posts about emulsified scrubs. Do a search for more as I have dozens of recipes on the blog about these products. I just love them!
Oil or emulsified scrub?
Emulsified scrub with Ritamulse SCG
Using behenyl alcohol in emulsified scrubs

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