Friday, April 10, 2009


Please note that I have an entire section of this blog devoted to preservatives, which lists all kinds of different ones, what goes into a preservative, and a downloadable comparison chart, to name a few things. Before commenting, please consider looking at that section as I think the question you have may be answered there. 

What's a preservative? What's an anti-oxidant? And what's the difference between the two?

A preservative is an ingredient we add to our creations to keep bacteria, yeast, and mold out of our water based body care products; they are considered anti-microbials.

An anti-oxidant protects oils and butters from rancidity (okay, to be honest, oils and butters will go rancid one day, but we are trying to push that "best before" date back with anti-oxidants). Anti-oxidants ARE NOT preservatives! They do not prevent bacteria, yeast, or mold from entering our creations. But they are still essential in that they prolong the shelf life of anything we make.

Let's talk about preservatives today...I know some people aren't fans of preservatives and want to leave them out, but I consider them essential. In my craft groups, no one leaves without a preservative in the products because I have no idea what they are going to do with the products once they leave!

If you've been following this blog, you'll know that grapefruit seed extract (aka GSE) IS NOT a preservative. Studies have shown the only preserving power it has comes from the preservative used to preserve the GSE. It can be, however, a good anti-oxidant.

Preservatives are generally added to the cool down phase of your creation at 0.1 to 1.5%, depending upon the preservative. Any product containing water, or those that might come into contact with water (like scrubs), should be preserved. (Lotion bars and other anhydrous products that won't come into contact with water do not need to be preserved...but you should add an anti-oxidant!)

How do you choose what kind of preservative is right for you?

Well, that's hard question to answer! A lot of people shy away from parabens, which means Phenonip and Germaben II are right out. Some people worry about how the preservative will impact their emulsification, which means Optiphen probably isn't your first choice. And some worry that they aren't preserving well enough, so a broad spectrum preservative like Germall Plus, Germaben II, or Optiphen are the best choices. You may have to play around to see how the preservative you choose works with your creations. My recipes are based upon liquid Germall Plus or Germaben II (when you see it say 0.5 to 1% preservative, I'm trying to take the difference in uses into account!)

Please note, I have updated posts on all of these preservatives and more, which can be found here, under the permanent link for preservatives

Liquid Germall Plus (Propylene Glycol (and) Diazolidinyl Urea (and) Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate) should be used at 0.1% to 0.5%. It is a liquid, and is added to the cool down phase of your lotion or surfactant creation. It is what's known as a broad spectrum antimicrobial preservative. I have chosen this one because it is readily available, it is used in smaller quantities, and it isn't super expensive. It is more stable than some of the other preservatives, and it can be used in just about anything, except for anhydrous (without water) products like sugar or salt scrubs (since Diazolidinyl urea is not soluble in oils, products that contain this ingredient should not be used in products that do not contain water.)

Note, I posted previously that liquid Germall Plus could not be used with creations with more than 25% oils. I was wrong. It just can't be used with things that do not contain water!

Phenonip is a great all around preservative. As it is oil soluble, it is not suitable for all water creations (like toners), but it is my personal choice for sugar or salt scrubs without water. It can be added to the oils phase of your creations. Again, it is used at 0.5% to 1% of the total weight of your recipes. It does contain parabens, which some people don't like. (Link to Brambleberry's listing on Phenonip here...)

Germaben II, used at up to 1%. It is good for hard to preserve recipes that contain extracts (like our toner) or those that are to be sprayed (I have no idea why this might be). It does contain parabens and urea, which some people don't like.

Optiphen, used at 0.75% to 1.5%, is a paraben and urea free preservative used in the cool down stage (although it can be added to the oil phase, it can de-stabilize emulsions, so you're better off adding it to the cool down stage). It does not offer broad spectrum protection. Not suitable for water only products - use Optiphen ND for these applications - and not suitable for oil only products! The note about the de-stabilization of emulsions is important - many people report frustration with this preservative for conditioners and lotions. Probably not the best choice for a beginner or someone who gets frustrated easily, like me! (Link to Optiphen at Voyageur here...)

Suttocide A, used at 0.4% to 1%. Not a broad spectrum preservative - better with bacteria and mold than yeast. It is a great preservative to use in conjunction with others for hard to preserve formulae. It can actually help gel your polymers (like Ultrez 21) as it has a high pH level.

Tinosan SDC, used at 0.1% to 0.5%, is a paraben free preservative based on citric acid and silver nitrate. Good for various applications, although there might be some problems with cationics (BTMS, for instance, so don't use it in conditioners or lotions where BTMS is the emulsifier). Can be used as a deodorant active in deodorants. (Link to Tinosan at Voyageur here...) Which gives me an idea for some experimentation when I get back from my honeymoon in June!

Which one is right for you? Well, that's really a personal choice based on your feelings about parabens and urea. I've chosen liquid Germall Plus as my preferred preservative because it offers broad spectrum protection, it's easy to find within driving distance, it has worked well for me in the past, and it works well with every product I might make (except for sugar scrubs, so this is where the Phenonip comes in!)

Tune in tomorrow for anti-oxidant fun (if there is such a thing!)

Before you post a comment, please check out the preservatives section of the blog as it contains a ton of information on specific preservatives as well as the components of them and the chemistry behind how they work. I won't be answering any questions about specific preservatives or directing you to read about those preservatives in this post any more because I've linked to this section twice, and encourage you to read the detailed posts and ask your questions there where it's more relevant and can help more people. Thank you! 


Yari said...

Hi Susan - I came across your post while reading up on the topic of preservatives through Google. I found your post highly informative, and very much appreciate all the help you have provided to the aspiring B&B makers out there. :)

My question for you is in regards to preservatives in facial products. I'm terrible when it comes to using fresh masks in a timely manner, so I was considering adding a preservative so that it doesn't go bad before I use it up. Since the facial area is so sensitive (and some even more than others), what would you recommend for facial products, and at what %? I was considering optiphen at 1% for masks, and liquid germall at 0.5% for creams, but I'm not sure if that would be too high (read: irritating) in your expert opinion!

Thank you!

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

I use 0.5% Liquid Germall Plus in any facial products. I find this isn't irritating to my very sensitive, acne prone skin, and it will preserve the botanicals and other hard to preserve ingredients well. The usage rate for LGP is 0.1% to 0.5%, so you can use less, but if you are using extracts, aloe, proteins, and the like, I'd go with the higher amount. I haven't used optiphen, so I'd suggest going with the suggested usage and see how you react. I have used phenonip at 0.5% in facial products and it has worked well.

I do have some concerns about ingredients in fresh masks and how long they should be kept. Even a well preserved clay mask has a very short shelf life. If you are looking to go longer than a few months, I'd suggest just making up the masks in smaller batches. The things our faces like tend to be things the bugs like as well!

It's hard to predict how we will react to certain ingredients, and the only way to know is to try it out.

If you consider how little preservative you are using per dose - for instance, with the facial cleanser, if I make a batch of 100 grams, I'm including 0.5 grams in the entire container. I'm going to be using something like 5 ml per facial wash, so it's 1/20 of 0.5 grams per exposure or 0.025 grams of preservative.

Don't forget to let us know what you decide to do!

Caroline said...

Hi Susan,

reading your blog back to front *S*
Thank you so much for all the info, priceless!!

My question is if I use a certain percentage of presevative how long will my product last? How long will it be protected? Is there a timeline?


Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Caroline. Thanks for the question, but did you have to make it such a hard one first thing in the morning?

I think I'm going to write a post on this topic...Can you give me a few days because there are so many factors?

Caroline said...

Thank you very very much for all the info on the topic, now I finally know how long I can use my products savely *S*

Kelly said...

Hi Susan,
What can you tell me about a relatively new...preservative? I was on the John Masters website, and I saw a press release saying that he was using Leuconostoc/radish root ferment, as well as Aspen Bark Extract (salycilic). I purchased both hoping to try them out in several homemade products containing water, but there isn't much info that came with them,(from the Herbarie) and I'm confused about how much to use for how much water, or? The info said .5 to 2%, which is a good difference, so I'm wondering if there's a way to tell what my range would be.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

I know nothing about this preservative and, from the looks of the search I did, no one else seems to know a lot, either.

Here's a link to the product at the Herbarie - Leucidal liquid. My first thought is to ask Angie at the Herbarie about it. She knows a lot, and should be able to help you.

Here are a few links I've found...
The Herbarie blog - scroll down a bit
Information on both preservatives.
Active Microsystems, the company making this product. It looks like you'll have to get in touch with them for data sheets and such!
Some kind of brochure including formulations with this product.

I hope these links help you on your quest for information!

Kelly said...

Thank you Susan! I'll let you know what I find out. I do know that the woman I originally emailed at the Herbarie said she had great results at 2%, and they have a person at a lab that shows them how to do the bacteria test(there at the Herbarie), and it was a great result..this being said,I don't know what her formula was, or how much it would vary per formula. Again, I'll let you know. It's definetely pretty new, but an interesting concept with the kimchi thing. I need to start appreciating Korean food more!:)

little panda said...

Hi Susan,
Have you tried cosmocil in lotions yet? toner?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi little panda. No, I've never tried it. What do you think of it?

Naomi said...

I stumbled upon this on the snowdrift site under a new cocoa butter lotion recipe. The author wrote: "we replaced the preservative (Cosmocil CQ) with Perfumer's Alcohol, at 15% of the batch weight. We've tested both formulas using our Chek-it kit, and the results are non-detect for both. Tests were conducted after 3 days, 7 days and 3 weeks." The INCI for their perfumer's alcohol is: SDA 40B 200 proof, isopropyl myristate, isopropyl alcohol. The premise is that the alcohol he will preserve the lotion, thus making the use of a preservative unnecessary. What do you think? What would the effect of the alcohols be on the skin - irritants?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Naomi. My understanding is that it has to be 60% alcohol to be preserving. I would suspect any alcohol amount necessary to preserve a lotion would be very drying for skin (at least my skin, and I have oily skin). I can't comment on their recipe as I've never tried it, but even 15% could prove very drying. And no offence to Snowdrift - they have great products and great formulas - but I don't think 3 weeks is long enough for testing the product.

I'd suggest writing to them for more information on this - and let us know about it!

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Oh, sorry! It depends upon the type of alcohol. Some can be preserving at 15% to 20%! (I still think that is far too much for my skin!)

Naomi said...

I was thinking the same about the alcohol being drying on the skin. I suppose it would be an alternative as a more "natural" preservative. Interesting... I'll see what they say on longer term effacacy.

pearlyn said...

any idea on shelf life for raw optiphen?

i bought my optiphen in late 2008 and i wonder if it can still be use.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Your Optiphen should be fine from December 2008. There are different kinds of Optiphen, so I'd suggest reading the literature from the manufacturer to check on the specific Optiphen you have.

Here's a link to the manufacturer's information (on page 12). Liquid Germall plus and Germaben II are in here also.

prettyasuplease said...

Hi Susan, I love your posts so much great info! I was wondering if you've ever tried Natamycin as a preservative. It's suppossedly a natural preservative made from streptomyces natalensis through deep fermenting (I have know idea what that means) and is used alot in preserving food. Anyways, I've been wanting to start make lotions for my little skincare line but need a "natural" preservative. I know you only need a super small percent but you know how some people are nowadays about the ingredients in their products. I'm really hoping you can give me some good news about Natamycin so I can start experimenting! But if not, could you recommend any other so called "natural" preservatives.

Looking forward to read any info you have about this!
Thank you

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Trish. I do not know about this preservative, so I haven't used it. From what I can see from the Wiki entry, it's an anti-fungal, so you'd have to combine it with something else to get a full spectrum preservative that can combat bacteria. (Here's a fact sheet on natamyacin.)

As for natural preservatives - here's the bad news. There really aren't any out there for homecrafters. Some studies are being done on Japanese honeysuckle, a natural paraben, but they're not promising in the long term

If you don't want to use synthetic preservatives, there are few options available to you if you want to make water based products. The Herbarie has a few options you might want to investigate - they have some that appear natural.

The general consensus is that there really isn't a good, effective natural preservative available to homecrafters. This might change in the future as there's tons of research being done, but for now...well, there's nothing I would trust.

prettyasuplease said...

I had a sneaking suspicion it was to good to be true. But I will definately check out what's available at the Herbarie. Thanks for the info and for getting back to me so quickly!

kontakt said...

Hi Susan,

do you know anything about ethylhexylglycerin? I searched your blog for it and didn't find one instance of the word.

A friend is ordering some stuff from the British company Fresholi, and I'm almost out of preservative so I was thinking of giving theirs a try. The preservative has the trade name Ethox. INCI: Phenoxyethanol, Ethylhexylglycerin. Do you think this is a good wide range combination? (or => Shop => Preservatives and Antioxidants).

It's obviously geared at customers who don't want parabens. I happily use parabens, I'm just wondering if this might be any good or not. I use quite a lot of preservative since I dilute conditioner until it can be sprayed, so that's what I'd mainly use it for.

kontakt said...

Stupid me, I forgot to check the online INCI directory! Ethylhexylglycerin is classified as skin conditioning, not a preservative. I guess the only preservative in Ethox is fenoxyethanol, then. And that I suppose isn't enough.

cmread said...

This is a spectacular blog! Just if it was in a book so I wouldn't have to sit at my computer and write down everything. Very nice and informative, plus easy to understand for a beginner like me.
Thank you!!

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi cmread! But it is - in a sense! I've put together all the posts I thought relevant about lotion making into an e-book (click here for more information) and all the proceeds to go fund my youth programs!

Thanks for your kind words! I work better with paper things myself!

Anonymous said...

Hi, Because I am a home formulator, active micro will not allow smaller orders but they have another company under their wing I purchase my leucidal from its straight from the manufacturer.

solquartocrescente said...

What do you do when your skin is allergic to most preservatives?
When I apply such lotions containing phenoxyethanol, parabens, sodium benzoate or others, my face becomes red. I must look for effective but non-allergen preservatives. Any suggestion?

Anonymous said...

Hi Susan,Thanks for all the info on your blog. Just have questions to ask.If I use ahydrosol & Witch Hazel instead of water in a lotion recipe, do you think it would be safe or still I need preservative, and if I make a clay mask with some oil and substitute the water with Vinegar and Witch Hazel, do I need a preservative.(I will be careful with the PH level.)
Thank you, Srah

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi solquartocrescente! If you're allergic to most preservatives and you've tried all the ones available, then I don't know what to suggest. You could try an anhydrous product, like a serum or light oil combination or even a lotion bar. What are you allergic to in all the different ones? Just curious...

Hi anonymous. If you are making a water containing product, you have to use a preservative, regardless of what other liquid ingredients you use in a product and regardless of pH. (You know I'm going to say that if you've read even a week or two of the blog!) If you make a clay mask and don't put a preservative in it, you will have microbial growth within a few days (that you might not see) and that's very dangerous for your face. You risk horrible infections and damaging illnesses from contaminants. I don't think anything containing water without a preservative is safe and you have to use a preservative in anything containing water, regardless of the possible other liquids you use.

Why don't you want to use a preservative?

Anonymous said...

Hi Susan; thanks for your quick response.I think I didn't ask my question properly,I meant to make the shelf life of the mask longer.So do you think if I make a clay mask with just vinegar still it is not safe even for a month or two.The reason which I don't like preservative is, I have very dry skin and for about 5 year I washed my face with lotion even in the shower(my Dr asked me to) and every time after shower my face was very very dry which I couldn't open my mouth because I felt my skin going to crack!Now after I've started making skin care for myself my skin is as smooth as baby's bottom.I've bought 2 preservative ,Optiphon Plus and Germaben11 but i have not used it yet.I've read that a mixture of Citric Acid &Potassium Sorbate and Cinnamon is a safe option ,what do you think?
My post got too long, and Last ,sorry if my writing is not clear because English is my second language.
Thank you for your all generous info. Sarah

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Sarah. Any liquid at all needs to be preserved, so if you make a clay mask with vinegar, you need to put a preservative in the product if you're keeping it longer than one use. It's hard to get a clay mask to stay good for a long time with good preservatives - without a proper preservative, you'll get mould in a few days!

As an aside...I can't imagine someone with dry skin would want to use a mask with vinegar. Where did you get this idea and have you tried it yet? I just think about the stinging from the acetic acid! Ouch!

As for citric acid, potassium sorbate, and cinnamon, I'd suggest reading up on those ingredients to see if they behave as preservatives in your products and, if so, if they behave well together as a broad spectrum preservative in your product. I have a feeling you'll find they won't.

I'm just wondering why you're avoiding well established preservatives that won't bother your dry skin for things that might hurt your skin like large amounts of cinnamon, citric acid, and vinegar?

kontakt said...

Butting in...

Anon, you are making an assumption that what you couldn't tolerate in your bought products was the preservatives. You really don't know it was the preservatives, do you? It could well be something else.

I also make my own products because I have very dry, sensitive and echsema-prone skin. It's a great way to find out what the skin likes and not! but it's alse very easy to draw to fast conclusions.

Cinnamon oil is a major irritant. I'd avoid it if I were you. I'd avoid essential oils unless I really were into doing some reading on them - some of them are really, really bad irritants, or allergens. So many people get very surprised that the natural scents, from essential oils, is what they don't tolerate.

People with skin problems probably should cut out all scents first things they do, especially the essential oils. Instead we go for the preservative, because we feel preservatives are "unnatural". That's a basic truth in risk perception: dangers deemed "unnatural" are percieved as more dangerous. But that's not necessarily the truth.

Why don't you make two batches of a skin product, one with one of the preservatives you bought and one without. (Keep it in the fridge and use just one week, it'll be fine. That's not very practical in the long run but for a shorter experiment - go ahead. Just don't tell Swift so she won't have to bash you for it ;-) ) Put one on the left side of your face, and the other one on the right side - or perhaps try on some other part of your body first, liks your right arm and left arm. If there's no side difference, you have had no problem with that preservative.

Anonymous said...

Hi Susan, I have been searching about those 3 ingredients and I've found a few web sites which support this idea . I include some web addresses which have some info about these 3 items, , , .

As you know Citric Acid is a PH balancer and Potassium Sorbate is a food preservative so I thought they must be good for skin care products as well.The usage rate would be up to 0.3% for Citric Acid and up to 0.5% for Potassium Sorbate and just very little of Cinnamon Powder and they are not irritant at this rate.I tried for lotion and it seems it is working but I'm not sure if it is strong enough for Clay Mask.

There is another option with Benzonic Acid, the web site address is,

Cheers, Sarah

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi kontakt! You're not butting in, you're making great suggestions! Thanks!

Hi Sarah. Organic lotions isn't offering any solid science for what they suggest you use as preservatives, and I encourage you to check out her lotion recipes if you doubt that she isn't using good manufacturing processes. She washes and re-uses her plastic containers and encourages others to do this. I really don't consider her position an evidence based one and I wouldn't consider her a reliable source. Avado considers Vitamin C and E to be preservatives, which is just plain wrong. I think it's Lumen that talks about food grade preservatives, which doesn't necessary translate to cosmetics. In the howtodothings article, they mention these preservatives can be used in cosmetics with no further information.

I hope what I'm about to say doesn't sound aggressive, because it's not intended to be rude or mean or anything else negative...If you're comfortable using the preservatives and following the processes they suggest in your products, then use those preservatives and follow those processes. Thank you for taking the time to share the links with me.

Anonymous said...

Hi Susan;
I just wanted to thank you for all the info you have given me generously , and I think you are right about the need of preservative in a mask.I am going to use it at minimum level allowed and if nothing happened then add a bit more every time I make the mask,I hope it works.

Hi kontakt;
Thanks for your suggestion, I hope Susan doesn't have wooden spoon :-)

Daler said...

Hi Susan

I was wondering fi I could get an answer for my problem! My emulsion, which consists of many actives, tends to separate; some of the oil tends to come on top of the main base... again, it's not the water separating but the oils. It does not bother me as when i shake the bottle before using the emulsion all goes back to normal. I am wondering regarding the preservation, I use 1% Germaben II. In addition to this I use 5% grain alcohol and 3% willow bark extract ( with 10% salicin so the emulsion will have .3%). I don’t use the later 2 as preservatives but I have read they do contribute to it. I am wondering if my emulsion is still preserved even though the oils tends to separate? Again, it’s not the water that is separating. My oil phase is approx 25%.

Thank you very much!


Anonymous said...

I currently started using Liquid Germall Plus in my lotions. I used 0.1% (about 1/8th of a teaspoon in my 8oz size lotions) I am very concerned because every time I finish a lotion I apply some on my arm and it makes the muscles in my arm go week. Also makes the muscles kinda hurt. Does not irritate my skin at all. Just my muscles. I am already using a very low amount but do I need to use less? The only other ingredient I have also added to my lotions is Stearic Acid. One teaspoon per 8oz lotion. So it's either the Stearic acid or the Germall Plus doing this. Please help if you have any suggestions!
I can't sell these like this!

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Daler. Can you write up your complete recipe and process so it's easier to diagnose your issue? Otherwise, I'm just making guesses, and that isn't helpful!

Hi Anonymous. Neither preservatives nor stearic acid penetrate the upper layers of your skin, let alone all the way to your muscles, so I can't see how either could be causing this problem. What else is in your lotion? If you're using essential oils to fragrance your product, consider that it is more likely they are causing problems rather than preservatives or fatty acids. Or it could just be a coincidence. You put pressure on your arm to apply the lotion or perhaps you only use the lotion when you've been creating in your workshop for hours after stirring a product for a while. I feel pretty confident in saying that neither stearic acid nor Germall Plus could create this problem for any human body.

Stearic acid occurs naturally in oils and butters, so if you've ever eaten a hamburger, used just about any liquid oil in cooking or making bath & body products, slathered on some shea, and so on, you've been exposed to much greater amounts internally and externally than you have been using your product!

Please don't use liquid measurements for things like preservatives because it isn't as easy as 5 ml = 5 grams. You could be getting too much or too little without really realizing it.

Just a thought - are you ready to sell your products? Have you had them tested and have you let each recipe sit for long periods of time (6 months to a year) to see how they hold up in all sorts of different conditions. I wouldn't sell a lotion that you are still working on for at least six months so you can see how the fragrances hold up, how it handles the heat and the cold, how the preservatives will hold up - especially considering you're using 0.1% instead of the maximum of 0.5% allowed - and so on. Please reconsider wanting to sell this product.

Anonymous said...


I'm not using Essential Oils, and all the other ingredients are the same ingredients I've been using for years with no problems. This only happened as soon as I started using the Germall Plus. And no my muscles did not get soar from applying the lotion, I'm not 90 years old! LOL These kinds of preservatives are indeed known to cause eczema and Psoriasis in some people, and irritate skin of others with sensitive skin. So this is why I was concerned. And seeing how I'm just starting this new preservative I thought maybe I'd get some more opinions on how much to use. Instead of just going by the suppliers percentages. I have to be careful with using too much because they can indeed irritate your skin. I have customers who demand all natural preservatives because the other preservatives really irritate their skin. They know better than to take the pump bottle lid off and dig their dirty hands in it, and they are aware of the expiration date. So this has worked wonderful for them. But most my lotions sold in stores I use nothing but these synthetic long lasting preservatives. Which I've been using in my lotions for 10 years now. I decided to switch and try Liquid Germall Plus, and instantly had this problem. I'm very good at measuring and calculating. I think the best way to measure is what ever way is easiest for me. Other wise there's a greater chance of me getting it wrong. But thanks anyways. I'm using a little over 0.1% which is for sure plenty enough for a 8oz lotion. I don't need it to last 10 years. My supplier states that 0.5% is only to be used in products containing dairy type ingredients. I have already addressed my supplier with my concerns and questions about my muscles feeling weird. Just haven't gotten word back from them yet, so I got impatient and thought I'd seek help here. I appreciate your help, But I think your comment stating that I should reconsider wanting to sell my lotions because you think I'm not using enough preservatives was rude. It is extremely easy to use a lotion with no synthetic preservatives if you are told how. It's personally the only kind I use for my self. Been using it this way for 10 years now because I know it reduces my risk for cancer simply because I use so much of it on a daily basis. And I have a store in town who won't take it any other way. How ever this doesn't mean I'm against synthetic preservatives. I use them all the time. I think there's a place for both natural AND synthetic. I also sell Lotions online as well, and I offer both types. If a person is told how to use and store their lotion, and how long the lotion will last etc...etc..Then they are aware and can use it very safely. Yes there is a very small portion of preservatives in lotions. But just because the portion is small doesn't mean it can't hurt you. It IS a toxin, and toxins are strong. Might make you think how such a small portion can keep a bottle of lotion good for two years. If three drops can do that then it's enough to do other things as well. Thank you for your time.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

I don't think I was being rude - I was asking you a genuine question. I think taking a really big gamble on selling something without broad spectrum, well tested preservatives without testing them over a long period of time. You are more than welcome to sell what you like, but I worry that you are setting yourself up for a serious lawsuit by not following good manufacturing practices and industry standards.

Your supplier isn't giving you the right information. 0.5% isn't only for products with dairy - it's for all products that might be harder to preserve. 0.5% doesn't preserve for a longer period of time - the goal isn't to keep the lotion for longer, it's to keep it safe from contamination better. If you use 0.1%, you might experience more contamination than using 0.5%. I wouldn't say any lotion was good for two years - I'm really unclear where you have information saying that increasing your preservative will preserve your lotion for longer. If you make a lotion with olive oil and shea butter, you have a one year life span whether you use 0.1% or 0.5%.

There is no conceivable way liquid Germall Plus is making your muscles hurt. It could be psychosomatic, but there is no way the liquid Germall plus molecules can penetrate through all the layers of your skin into your muscles. The conditions you mention are skin based - it is conceivable it can be an irritant to skin, but there is no way it is a muscle irritant. Liquid Germall Plus is not a toxin - it is an ingredient that is generally regarded as safe and has many many many studies showing that it is not toxic when use as directed. From your comments, I don't think you know what a toxin is and how it is defined. Everything is toxic when used improperly - which is why we have an LD50 for just about everything! It's all about dosage.

I don't think you're happy with my answer and I don't think you're happy that I've questioned your methods and your philosophy. This doesn't mean I'm rude. It means that I'm being honest and asking the hard questions that need to be asked when you're doing something like selling your products to the public. It's fine to say you aren't using preservatives and your customers know how to use a lotion, but when someone has a huge skin infection from a contaminated product, they are going to say they never put their dirty hands into the container or wiped the tube from the pump bottle on their skin, and there's no way you can prove otherwise. Financial consequences aside, could you sleep at night knowing you could have prevented an injury to someone? I couldn't, which is why I use good broad spectrum preservatives in my products. (Mind you, I don't sell my products because I don't want all this hassle! I give my products away, and I ensure they are very well preserved before sharing them with people I love...)

We spent thousands of years trying to find effective preservatives for our food and body products, and now that we have them, everyone's running away from them, preferring the all natural illnesses and injuries that come out of poorly preserved products. Google Arbonne and recall to see what happens to huge companies when they don't use preservatives. The only safe way to sell a product without a preservative is to make something without water. Otherwise, you're just asking for serious problems.

Liz said...

If you use a preservative in a lotion, do you still need an antioxidant (like Vitamin E) to give the oils a longer shelf life?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Liz. You don't have to use anti-oxidants, but if you want the lotion to last longer than six months, you probably should!

jane said...

Hi Susan

I was just reading about this SynerCide Asian fusion and I was wondering what your thoughts were on it. Have you worked with it? I'm considering testing it but I don't know if it would be worth it. I would like to have your input.

Toni said...

Hi Susan,

As an onlooker and lotion body cream maker, I must agree that you were rude to the Anonymous poster and you did not like her comments. It seems that perhaps you are the one that didn't agree with her comments to you because you do not go along with 100% natural products or even close to natural as possible. You seem to be blind to the fact that just because the FDA refuses to endorse natural products, or even test them, you have the opinion (which shows your ignorance concerning these natural preservatives and products) that they are worthless as a preservative or anything else in a cosmetic product.

I'm here to tell you that if you do your research on this matter, you will discover that most of the essential oils that contain preservative properties have been tested by the "natural folks" scientifically and have been used for multitudes of years even though the FDA refuses to look at this fact. The documented evidence is out there if you really want to know it. It's all about politics and big pharmaceutical companies with big amounts of $$$ who are now forced to compete with the natural folks, and who are now using many of the essential oils and remidies in their own products. Where do you think many of the synthetic chemicals came from to begin with for the pharmaceutical companies to duplicate an artifical product? Where do you think digitalis and most of your prescription drugs came from originally before big pharmaceutical companies contaminated the ingredients with their artifical and processed chemicals?

About recycling. Recycling is a wonderful idea, since plastics are not biodegradable. What is wrong with sterilizying a lotion bottle with bleach, a solution that has been scientifically proven effective, to disinfect and decontaminate? Here in America I had a customer of mine ask me if I wanted her lotion bottles back for sterilization and reuse.It's a normal thing here in America. If the only drinking water available was that from contaminated water that had been sterilized with bleach, you may think twice about this. Many people in the world have to do just that. Your comments about another superb organic lotion website over the internet, just because you happen to disagree with, were very disrespectful and shows much about a person's character and integrity. It would have been much better for you to admit the world now recycles or stay silent on this matter.

Finally, while I could continue to elaborate more, I will end with saying it is evident that you do not know the laws regarding the FDA and the selling of cosmetics in America. It is perfectly legal to sell products here if a customer is aware that the safety of the product has not been tested. It sounds like to me, Anonymous has herself covered in this respect with her customers by what she has stated. As we say in America, "Don't let your knowledge go to your head" .... There is room for both. Natural and artifical.


Toni said...

Hi Susan:

For your information on the preservative

Potassium Sorbate


Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Toni. I have posts on many different preservatives in the preservative section of the blog, including potassium sorbate (click here).

Can I be really honest here? I really don't feel like engaging in this debate with you. I've had it a thousand times before with many others, and I'm tired of it. You're allowed to call me rude and ignorant, you're allowed to question my knowledge base, you're allowed to present your opinions without evidence, and all I ask of you is one thing - be nice. You and so many others show up, posturing, behaving aggressively, and I'm so tired of it.

Here is my reality - I'm so busy these days that I don't have time for the things in life that bring me joy. This discussion with you doesn't bring me joy, so I choose not to engage in it. If you choose to interpret this as "winning" the argument, I hope that brings you great happiness.

There are so many other blogs out there that share your opinions - I encourage you to frequent those blogs. There's no need to spend time here when you clearly have nothing but contempt for me.

Why should I know the laws of a country in which I don't live? Do you know the laws of my country?

Toni said...

33Hi Susan:

I apologize if you felt I was behaving aggresively.

You asked "Why should I know the law of a country of which I don't live? Do you know the laws of my country?"

In response, Susan, I will tell you that if you are going to make comments on an an open forum that concerns the law, lawsuits and such
(" I worry that you are setting yourself up for a serious lawsuit by not following good manufacturing practices and industry standards."), then shouldn't you at first know what the law is? That's just basic, I would think. This is not meant to be offensive, but is a fact, Susan. No, I cannot say I know the laws of your country, but then again, I don't go making public comments regarding your laws until I first do my research.

My position is to "prove all things" and I am willing to look at both sides of the preservative issue (in this case), and not write either off until a thorough analysis, to make an impartial conclusion. As I read through the comments on this topic here, I came to the conclusion that you failed to research LotionSecrets, aka Organic Lotions when you said
" Organic lotions isn't offering any solid science for what they suggest you use as preservatives".

Lotion Secrets blog has tons of research all over it with links and dosages as she did with the Potassium Sorbate,and that is why I addressed it here, when responding to the Anonymous poster. I don't like to see anyone maligned over the internet... We need to be accurate when we are giving out pertinent information to the public.. that is all I am saying. People want to be able to rely upon the information they are given.

For you information, I do search out other blog, as is evidenced by my previous comments, to gather information from both sides of the preservative issue, (and other things). How else can one make an unbiased and accurate conclusion?
I just happened to pop onto your blog, which I do not believe was a coincidence.

I think you have a fabulous blog with tons of data; it's obvious and I would be the first to defend you if I read where someone was maligning you publically, even though I may not agree with everything. I think that is just wrong.

You don't need to engage in a debate with me. I was only expressing my viewpoint, Susan and if as you say, so many others show up "being aggressive", perhaps maybe you need to take a step and look at what's going on and perhaps you need to take some time to smell the roses and relax alittle?

Blessings and (((HUGS!!)) to you Susan,


tanya zed said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Tanya. I've removed your comment in accordance with my new policy on comments. (Click here to see it.) Calling me ignorant isn't okay. (And before you say anything, think about this - if I called you ignorant, would that sit well with you? No, I'm sure it wouldn't.) You are welcome to repost a comment if you are able to fit it in within these guidelines.

As well, if you want to talk about the dangers of preservatives, you have to provide some proof. Here's a post on what constitutes evidence on this blog. I'm happy to look at reputable studies suporting your position. Feel free to post those links here or send them to me via email.

Anonymous said...

I would like to comment if I may.
I had the unfortunate experience approx 4 years ago of using a "natural" ( no recognised preservative) lotion..long story short..I ended up in hospital .I agree totally with everything Susan says regarding preservatives...and I also dont think she was being rude at yes> I am a person who nearly died because some idiot thought "fairy dust" was an effective preservative..luckily I managed to escape with damaged eye sight and a big scar in the middle of my face.
If you think Susan was really dont want to hear all my views LOL
..and my damaged eyesight, hospital stay and scar make me qualified to give an opinion.

Kellie said...

Okay this is a little tricky. I know your not in the practice of business consulting, but I am asking for a bit of professional advice. Other than use pre-made bases and just experimenting with fragrances, I haven't really done much else. I graduated from cosmetology school and really fell in love with the idea of making my own line of bath products. For the past two years I have done nothing but research, research, research. I'm now confident in my knowledge to being making (but not selling) the products, and I plan to make both hydrous and anhydrous products. So now, after my long winded explanation, my question is if I plan to sell my products, eventually, should I be extra cautious and use a preservative in my anhydrous concoctions as well? And if so, would the percentage be the same?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Kellie! I think a trip to the preservatives' section of the blog might answer some of your questions. The short answer is that if you think the product might come close to water, then put an oil soluble preservative in it at the suggested usage rates. If that's not the case, then I don't think you necessarily need it. I think someone who has a business might make another suggestion, but I don't think about using preservatives when I give anhydrous products to my friends, family, and youth group kids.

Anahit said...

Hi Susan,
I came to your blog while researching on natural cosmetic ingredients and preservatives, and found it very helpful - thanks!Today I was browsing a natural cosmetics stand in a store and looking up the ingredients, just in order to see what is being used. I found a Dr Haushka cream with the following ingredient list:Water (Aqua), Prunus Armeniaca (Apricot) Kernel Oil, Anthyllis Vulneraria Extract, Pyrus Cydonia Seed Extract, Alcohol, Daucus Carota Sativa (Carrot) Root Extract, Glycerin, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil, Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil, Cetearyl Alcohol, Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil, Althaea Officinalis Leaf Extract, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Beeswax (Cera Alba), Pyrus Cydonia Peel/Fruit Wax, Lysolecithin, Bentonite, Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) Bark/Leaf Extract, Fragrance (Parfum), Citral*, Citronellol*, Geraniol*, Limonene*, Linalool*, Eugenol*, Benzyl Benzoate*, Xanthan Gum
I did not spot anything like a preservative, so I wonder: are they just not listing their complete ingredients? Could the essential oils components that they are listing act as preservatives? What do you think?

Tracy said...

@ anahit, Benzyl Benzoate is a preservative (I don't know anything more about it, like whether it's a good preservative). Preservatives can also hide under "fragrance." In an ingredient list like that, where everything is annotated with the common word in parenthesis, look up the ones that aren't annotated. That's usually where you find the preservatives and/or potentially objectionable chemicals.

chloe yates said...

Hi , I have a few questions about preservatives I'll list them so they're easy to answer.
I've recently started a line of natural skin products consisting of lotions , scrubs , masque etc . I know preservatives are recommended for any products and a must for water based products , I'm trying to be a natur as possible . Now for the questions:

1. If I have a sugar scrub of cane sugar , olive oil , a little lemon juice and a few drops of vitamin e , is it required for me to add a preservative ?
2. Is lemon juice considered a water base that will grow bacteria when In contact with the other ingredients ?
3. . If my mosturizer had olive oil ,beeswax, glyceryin , vitamin e , coca butter and essential oil does it need. Preservative
4. If my clay masque is made with bentonite clay , honey , essential oil and glyceryin to give it a mud consistency will it need a preservative ?
5 . Is rose water a substitute in place of regular water that doesn't require a preservative

Can you also include a general less expensive preservative that I can use in all of my products

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Chloe! Have you consulted the preservatives section of the blog? I think the answers to all your questions can be found there. (Teaching you to fish, rather than fishing for you, is my new policy, especially for those in business!)

Please don't take this the wrong way, but are you ready to sell? I ask this because it worries me that you don't know some of these basic things about your ingredients - things like what is required for emulsification, what's water soluble and what isn't, and what can be mixed with what - things that are essential to making good, safe products. I'm afraid you're going to make some serious mistakes that will get you a bad reputation or, worse, sued. (You do have insurance, right?) I would encourage you to learn more about your ingredient and test your products for at least a year - as well as getting them challenge tested - before you even consider selling anything you might make.

I'm not trying to squash your dream or dissuade you; I'm trying to ensure you're making safe and effective products, and your questions are making me worried that you are able to do that at this time. Please reconsider what you're doing right now and make a plan to work at this for at least a year before you put anything on sale. This is a craft and it takes time to learn it, like any good craft or skill. Please make sure you are 100% sure of everything you are doing before you put yourself out there as a company.

Sal said...

I love your blog! It's incredibly informative. I have a question regarding which antioxidant and preservative you feel is best to use together for products thats include honey, oil ( grape, olive, or jojoba), tea, extracts and sugars .

Thank you in advance!

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Sal. What's your question? We'll need to see your exact recipe and process to be able to help.

Nhung Nguyễn said...

Hello thanks for your very informative post. I like to make give-away handmade products and its self life is always a problem. I'm making face mask with Aloe Vera Gel and Green tea Powder. Can I use Vitamin E as a preservative or should I use any other preservative? Thank you

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Nhung! Welcome to the blog. Check out the posts I've written this week on this topic to see the answer to your question! Vitamin E isn't a preservative; it's an anti-oxidant, and, as such, won't preserve your product at all. It will retard rancidity in oils, and you don't have any of those in the recipe you note here.

charline said...

Hi Susan
Love your blog! Over the past few years I have been using liquid germal plus to preserve. I have started to sell some of my older recipes but people are wanting "natural" I have read that combining leucidal and aspen bark extract together make a mild broad spectrum preservative. I will experiment. But my question is about Airating my formulation. Will incorporating air into my lotion to make it fluffy shorten its lifespan? When I first started making lotions I tried this and they molded so I haven't tried it since. What is your experience with whipping lotions and there preservation?
Thanks a bunch -char

Anonymous said...

Hi Susan your blogs are awesome and so informative. My question is if i make a body butter no water in it at all but will be making to sell. Should I add a preservative? Help please!

Thank You,

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Char. No, I can't see that adding air to a product will encourage it to grow mold. I have a feeling it was a coincidence that your earlier lotions molded and contained air.

Hi Sally. Take a look at this post - You don't need to preserve anhydrous products.

Ryan said...

Hi Susan. I bought Liquid Germall Plus in Aug. 2013, but haven't used all of it. Does Liquid Germall Plus expire? Thanks, Ryan

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Ryan. Liquid Germall Plus has a shelf life of two years, which means you have a year left. Any product you make will have a similar shelf life, so keep a note of that when you make products. Anything made today is only good until August 2015.

Ryan said...



Christa Marks said...

I am making a lactic acid/glycolic acid/glycerin peel. Do I need to include a preservative too?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Christa! If you use water, you have to use a preservative.

Christa Marks said...

forgot to add that the lactic acid/glycolic acid/glycerin peel also has distilled water in it.

Christa Marks said...

Thanks Susan. Can you recommend a good preservative for the lactic/glycolic acid with distilled water?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Christa! Check out the preservatives section of the blog to find your favourite preservative.

Melanie said...

So it appears from the preservative chart and the blog here that there is no preservative for anhydrous products that are paraben-free. Is that right? So the 2 choices in a bar conditioner or shave bar is parabens or risking contamination right?

Melanie said...

Oops-I forgot to click the email follow up. Do you have to click it for every comment or once for the whole blog?

Ruthie said...

So can I use Phenonip in lotions that contain oil? I am new to the preservatives as I have just started selling my products.I make Tallow products and am not sure if I have to ad a preservative or not. I see them listed all over Etsy all natural with no preservatives but not sure if that is legal or safe.My Tallow lotions and creams will have no water just Tallow ,essential oils, other oils and some will have scents.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Melanie. Check out this post on Optiphen for more information on using this in anhydrous products.

Hi Ruthie. You can use Phenonip in your oil containing lotions. If you are making anything with water, you must have a preservative. If you aren't using water or the product won't come into contact with water, you don't need to use a preservative.

Can I ask you a question? And please don't take this the wrong way...but are you ready to sell your products? Have you spent at least a year watching how they react in different temperatures and humidities? Have you tested to see how the different oils react over time and what the shelf life of your product will be? Are you adding anti-oxidants to the products? These are questions that I hope every bath & body vendor asks herself before selling, and I thought I would pose them to you in the spirit of being helpful.

Anonymous said...

Hi Susan
I'm Scrolling down and down and I'm trying to find info about SynerCide Asian Fusion but cant find it (I hope it wasn't staring me in the face!) So I will ask instead. What are your thoughts on it? Is it very stable, or does it need a second preservative added? Sometimes I think that when people see the wasabi/garlic and all that on the ingredient list they will run because it might smell or sting?? Have you ever come across this before? Any insight you can give me would be much appricated :)

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Erica. Sorry I have no knowledge of this preservative apart from reading about it, and there doesn't seem to be much information out there about it. Perhaps you could get in touch with one of the suppliers who sell it - Lotioncrafter or Formulator Sample Shop, to name two - to ask them about it?

Dave said...

Can someone help me correctly determine the amount of Germall Plus powder to use, in a 30 ml solution, at 1/10th of a percent ( 0.1 % ) concentration of the preservative.

And does it matter if the solution is half water and half propylene gycol?

Again, I'm using powder Germall Plus, not the liquid form.

Thank you for your assistance.

workingirl said...

Susan, can you please clarify how to use Phenonip? I see recipes where the Phenonip is added to the oil phase of a product and I assume the Phenonip is in the oil phase as it is being heated, not after it's been heated and removed from the heat. This is really confusing me because I just watched a SoapQueen video wherein Anne Marie added Phenonip to the sugar scrub AFTER it had cooled down below 145 degrees. She also stated on her video that Phenonip loses it's effectiveness if heated above 145 degrees.

Susan, can you or anybody else please clarify this for me? I can't find the answer to my question anywhere. Thanks.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi workingirl! Check out this post on Phenonip, which you can find in the preservatives section of the blog. The short answer is that it is to be used in your heated oil or water phase as it needs to dissolve. This is one preservative that likes the heat! The information Anne Marie is sharing is contrary to what the company recommends in this data bulletin on the product. In short, use it in the heated phase of your product.

workingirl said...

Thanks Susan. I also e-mailed Jenny at Lotioncrafters and she e-mailed me back stating basically the same thing you just said. I do notice, however, that the Phenonip remains a glob at the bottom of my jar of water during the entire heating phase and I have never seen it "dissolve", or at least in a way I think of something dissolving. But then maybe this is what it's supposed to do since it is oil soluble and not water soluble, right?

Just one last question. I signed up for a class online with an individual and she doesn't teach the heat and hold method for making lotions and creams. Also, when I questioned Brambleberry about the Phenonip, they told me they don't use the heat and hold method either. Is there another line of reasoning that some people follow as to why they don't use the heat and hold method? I'm really curious because I've read your article several times and heating and holding for 20 minutes makes really good sense to me and sounds like a bit of "insurance" against contamination. I'm just wondering why two different obviously professional people/organizations would choose not to do it and if there's another school of thought on this issue.

Thanks for all your help. Your blog is the best!

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi workingirl! The only argument I've heard for why one wouldn't heat and hold is that they want to be done quickly. Heating and holding ensures we create a well emulsified lotion that will stand up over time. Heating and holding is considered best practice for companies and homecrafters alike, and I don't understand why someone wouldn't do it.

Here's a post on the topic with lots of links to other posts, if you are interested!

Gail Leblanc said...

I accidentally added too much potassium sorbate to my lotion. I ended up with a mild attack of contact dermatitis. with that said, i have this lovely batch of lotion but unusable in this state. Can I do anything with it (i.e. add some to a new batch?) also, how so I get a PH reading? just dip stick in lotion? Rub a bit on?


Jill Robertazzi said...

hello, I make my own lipsticks. I use vitamin E as an anti-oxidant. I was told vitamin E will have a shelf life of 1 yr. I was told that myrrh was a preservative but the smell is strong & not very pretty. can you suggest a natural preservative that will work well for a natural lipstick. thank you so much.

jill forster

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Gail! There's nothing you can do with it now, unfortunately. I guess you could make another batch and mix them together, but do you want to take that risk when you've had this reaction? You can get pH strips, but they aren't very accurate. A pH meter is the best choice, but they are at least $50 or so. Ask your retailer how to use the device or strips you buy!

Hi Jill. You don't need a preservative in something that doesn't contain water. Please visit the preservatives section of the blog to learn more. Also, check out the newbie section of the blog for more!

As a note, myrrh isn't a preservative.

Andrew said...

Hi is liquid germal plus still your go to for facial products?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Andrew! Yes, it's my go-to for every product, except my emulsified sugar scrubs!

Shawn Ankrom said...

Hi.....i keep getting conflicting info so I was referred to you by someone in a group on facebook. Emulsified sugar scrub....made up of butters, oils, emulsifying wax.....which preservative would be best....Optiphen plus? Do I need to add polysorbate 80 in this recipe?

Also for a room spray.....made up of distilled water, EO and polysorbate 20.....which preservative for this.....Optiphen ND ?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Shawn. I've written about this topic at length, so I suggest a search for scrub + preservative and see what comes up! As well, I have written posts on each preservative as well as comparison charts that might be helpful, both of which you'll find in the preservatives section of the blog. Finally,I have fragrance spray recipes on the blog, so a search should come up with a few ideas for you! If after all that you don't have the answer to your questions, let me know!

Karine Boucher said...


I would like to start with a huge thank you. Your blog is very informative!

I have been reading the post in this blog about preservative, but I found only post about preservative that contains parabens. I was wandering if you knew about Geogard Ultra (inci: Gluconolactone (and) Sodium Benzoate)

I have been using this preservative quite successfully however I found its not always enough in some recipes. I do use aloe vera, honey and hydrosol so I guess I need something more or maybe I could add a booster to this?

SHS said...

when you say optiphen is not broad spectrum what does that mean? what does it NOT guard against? I've used it successfully in many scrubs as phenonip has parabens (I dont care but my customers and some wholesalers do) and I am not sure what it doesn't do well would you add something else to it? thank you as always

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi SHS! Can I refer you to the Optiphen post linked in the preservatives section? I answer your question there.

Ana Gea said...

Hello Susan. Thank you for a very informative post on preservatives. I make my face cream with Geogard 221 and it's the only preservative I have used so far, however, I want to use witch hazel hydrosol for my water phase and it says on its label that it was preserved with germall plus at 0.5%. Do I still add 1% of my preservative for the 100% of the recipe or do I calculate the % of preservative by reducing the recipe for the weight of witch hazel? I would appreciate it if you could help me with this.

Anonymous said...

I hate it when I ask google a question and you people come up with nothing to do with my question. Stop trying so hard to be on top of everything. Now I'll never trust you.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

What the heck are you going on about? I have no way of controlling Google searches.

Anonymous said...

Hi Susan, thank you for all this valuable information. I am new to this and not into selling anything just trying to cut costs, use healthier products and have fun with it. I have some Dr. Bronner's castile soap that I want to make liquid bath soap from. If I dilute it with distilled water, (currently using full strength and my skin is itchy) add some oils and vegetable glycerin, I should still use a preservative, correct? I have Phenonip on hand as a preservative.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Anonymous. Yes, if you're diluting something, you have to add more preservative.

Leigh said...

Thank you Susan. I was also wondering how to thicken the liquid castile soap with something other than salt. I have been searching but haven't been able to find much.

Angel Mason said...

What's your opinion on using Germall Plus Powder, It can be ordered from Lotioncrafter LLC.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

HI Angel! I've not used it myself, but everything I've read or heard indicates it's a great preservative, just like liquid Germall Plus. I say use it!

David said...

Hi Susan,

I was wondering if I must use a preservative to save my cleanser balm (anhydrous) fron mold, yeast and bacteria. After reading a few articles about it, I noticed this one from


If water may be introduced to the product or the product used in a humid bathroom then a preservative is advisable. An expert microbiologist advises that if trying to preserve an anhydrous product (including all oil+sugar/salt scrub) the oil soluble preservative will get locked in the oils so will not reach any water, if water was introduced into the product. So if you added an oil soluble preservative then that preservative will stay in the oils and not move over to where the water is located to protect that water against bacteria and mould so would be useless. So contrary to what you may have read, we should really use a water soluble preservative in an anhydrous product which means we’d need to add an emulsifier to get that preservative mixed in properly with the oils."

What do you think?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi David. I've written at great length about this topic, so I encourage you to do a search for preservative + scrub and see what comes up. There is some debate about the type of preservative needed for an anhydrous product that might be contaminated with water, and I have written about that debate as well. If you check out the preservatives section of the blog - look to the right hand side of the blog or to the link in the post - I have written about that topic there, too.

I use Phenonip in my creations as it is both water and oil soluble.

Niki1695 said...

Hi Susan,
I have seen here some posts asking about Phenoxyethanol; Ethylhexylglycerine (Euxyl) however didn’t find any response or an article on that preservative. So I did my research and this is what I’ve found:
- Liquid preservative equally effective against G+ and G- bacteria, yeasts and mould fungi
- Recommended usage: 0.5-1.0%
- Can be used in a wide range of pH (up to 12)
- Stable to temperature
- It can tolerate high salt content
- However if used with a high load of surfactants may result in a loss of efficacy
As I have seen this one to be broadly used within EU commercial products, I hope this sum up might come handy to my peers in EU.

Lucianna Young said...

Hi Susan

So you think vitamin e alone is something like a beard balm is not the best way to go? It has no water products only oils and butters.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Lucianna! I have no idea any more. I personally wouldn't feel comfortable selling something that might be exposed to water from wet hands without a preservative, a year of watching it and making notes, and testing from a proper lab. Vitamin E isn't a preservative, it's an anti-oxidant, which is a great thing in an anhydrous product, but it won't stop contamination.

Green Gaia said...

Hi there,

Someone posted about Synercide Asian Fusion preservative a while ago. I've found it is not suitable for creams/lotions, as it seems to cause the creams to "seize" and thin out considerably. For clarity, I am adding it to the emulsified blend during the cool down phase (under 45c) I purchased some a while ago, and have tried it in ten different batches of cream. Consistently, a cream which is 30% shea butter and 70% water (relatively thick) will immediately thin out to a the consistency of a body milk. I can say (anecdotally) that it appears to work as an actual preservative, but that is only to the naked eye. I have not done any lab testing. Cheers,


tafchk said...


How do you know how many drops to use for a given percentage please?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi tafchk. No, because we don't measure in drops as it's far too inaccurate.

Susan in Alaska said...

Hi Susan, do you have an opinion on/tried/challenge tested Liquid Leucidal COMPLETE, which is newer/different from the Leucidal that Soap Queen used a number of years back and different than the Leucidal Aloe or Leucidal SF. I haven't used it but Formulator Soap Shop claims broad spectrum. Thoughts/experience? Thank you for your expertise.

Caleb said...

Hi Susan.

Have you heard of this product?

The claims say its oil and water solluble, and all natural broad spectrum preservative. Seem a little too good to be true.

All the Best.