Preservatives & Natural Skin Care

The time has come to discuss a topic that has built up quite the reputation over the past few years.  Having worked retail for a variety of natural skin care companies, I would argue that the most frequently ask questions by customers are those concerning the use of preservatives.  And it’s not hard to see why!

The likely culprit of our confusion?

Hand Holds Petri Dish with Bacteria Culture

Harmful Microbes

In my opinion, a lot of the confusion stems from what I call the, ‘preservative-free’ movement and the ‘paraben scare.’    Studies were conducted (thank goodness), and a respectable amount of preservatives used in the most common commercial-based products were deemed dangerous, toxic, and threatening to our health.  One minute later, someone decided ALL preservatives were bad, unnecessary, and downright offensive to even read on a product label.  While there are, without question, some preservatives we should do our best to avoid, do not let a few bad apples destroy your faith in the rest of them.

Here are some of the most common questions I hear (and have asked myself) regarding preservatives and how they operate in the realm of Green Chemistry, and help maintain healthy skin.  It is my hope, and Bee Naturals’ mission, that these explanations help clarify some of the confusion, and equip you with the knowledge necessary to make informative and healthy consumer choices.

Frequently Asked Questions & Straightforward Answers:

Let’s start off easy…

What is a preservative?

  • A preservative is an ingredient used in products to inhibit the growth of microbial contaminants (bacteria, mold, and yeast).
  • Some preservatives can protect against all three contaminants and are known as, broad spectrum preservatives. Because not all preservatives are blessed with such abilities, it is common for manufacturers to use a few in combination with one another to ensure the formula can defend itself against all microbial enemies.

What do you risk when you don’t have a preservative?

  • Without the use of preservatives, you run the risk of your product spoiling and becoming a microbial breeding ground for all kinds of health concerns, even diseases.  Imagine leaving the leftovers from dinner sitting on the counter for a couple of days.  You wouldn’t eat them, right?
  • Health concerns that can arise from bacteria overgrowth in a product include various forms of skin infections, toxic shock, strep throat, eye infections, etc.

Does EVERY skin care product need a preservative?

  • Primarily, water-based lotions and creams need a preservative.  Products like lip balms and water-free ointments, generally are considered, ‘self-preserved’, as they don’t contain all the necessary elements from organisms to grow and multiply.

What about parabens?

  • Well…there are many opinions on this matter.  On one side, we have those reputable sources who strongly believe that parabens are misunderstood, and, if used correctly under the right specifications, are perfectly safe.  To keep a long story short, the paraben-cancer scare is said to have started when, in 2004, Dr. Philippa Darbre published a study in the Journal of Applied Toxicology that alluded to the possibility of parabens causing cancer.  The study has since been deemed inaccurate and has been discredited.  However, general public consensus rules parabens DO still cause cancer, so many manufactures have chosen to use other alternative preservatives.

*For more on this story, check out this article written by Perry Romanowski

  • Regardless, there are still many articles claiming parabens do pose threats to our health. To stay clear of the paraben mess of opinions altogether, some companies, such as Bee Naturals, simply avoid paraben use altogether.

What preservatives are found in Bee Naturals products?

  • We use phenoxyethanol blended with sorbic acid/potassium sorbate for the majority of our water containing products.
  • This is our blend of choice because of its long history of safe use, as well as their ability to fully defend our products against the most harmful microbes.


Bee Naturals’ Natural Insect Repellent Ingredients

Mythbusters: What’s Actually in Your Insect Repellent?

Bugs are the most notorious party crashers of your Fourth of July celebration. No matter how exclusive the party, they are sure to show up and bring along all their friends.  In preparation to party with these unwanted guests, friends and family shower themselves in a fog of commercial insect repellents.  While the ingredients in these products succeed at keeping the bugs from biting, they are incredibly harmful to the body.

Toxic Chemicals in Commercial Repellents

Many repellents on the market today are riddled with synthetic fragrances and toxic pesticides.  Such ingredients not only run the risk of irritating the skin, but also damage to the body’s internal systems. A recent study, done by Duke University Medical Center’s Dr. Abou-Donia, revealed that exposure to DEET can impair brain function and even result in poor muscle coordination, muscle weakness, and memory loss.  Fortunately, many scientists like Dr. Abou-Donia are calling for urgent investigation into the dangerous chemical ingredients found in common bug sprays.  In the mean time, is there a natural alternative to shield this Fourth’s backyard barbequers from pesky insects, without possibly damaging brain cells and irritating the skin?Since our skin is the body’s largest organ, it is important that we educate ourselves on what we are putting on it.  This is precisely what prompted Barbara Chappuis to create Bee Naturals, to educate her customers on how natural ingredients can help heal and protect the skin.

The Power of Natural Ingredients


Bee Naturals’ Natural Insect Repellent

is specially formulated to keep pests away without the use of harmful chemicals or DEET. Scientists have observed that biting insects, such as mosquitoes, choose their victims based on scent.   Certain scents, although pleasing to humans, send most biting insects flying in the other direction.  Bee Naturals cleverly chose a blend of ten different essential oils to incorporate into their natural repellent: Geranium, Rosemary, Lemon Eucalyptus, Vanilla, Lemon Grass, Clove, Cornmint, Pine Needle, Cedarwood, and Citronella.  Unlike the toxic aroma of commercial bug sprays that leave you smelling like a chemical spill, this blend leaves you perfumed by the concentrated essence of flowers, fruits, herbs, and plants.  Who decided that in order to enjoy the outdoors without being eaten alive, we had to smell like a toxic waste dump?  Since these essential oils are as potent as they are pleasant, we no longer have to sacrifice one for the other.

Soybean oil and neem oil are further added to the formula to enhance the all-natural deterrent factor of the repellent.   Soybean oil was recently added by Canada’s national health agency’s list of recommended mosquito repellents, and for good reason.   In Consumer Report’s of 2010 reported that natural products containing soybean oil rated as well as products containing 7 percent DEET.  Additional studies have shown that repellents with a soybean oil base provided longer lasting protection than those with a citronella base.

Neem oil, derived from the seeds, leaves, and/or bark of the neem tree, is reported as being the most heavily researched herbal remedy in all of India.  In fact, Indians have referred to the tree as “the village pharmacy,” and can be found in approximately 75 percent of their holistic remedies.   In addition to its bug repelling properties, it works to nourish and moisturize the skin.

The Natural Insect Repellent is the perfect addition to bring along on all outdoor occasions.  The spray can be applied directly onto the skin, or on clothing.  Think of Natural Insect Repellent as your personal bouncer who politely, yet forcefully, escorts unwanted guests away from all your outside endeavors.