Are Parabens, Formaldehyde and Methylchloroisothiazolinone still needed?

August 10, 2015 Colin Sanders

I have taken the title of this post almost word for word from an article printed in Personal Care April 2013 written by staff from Dr Straetmans.  They assert that their product, Dermasoft OMP is good enough to stand comparison with more widely used preservatives such as formaldehyde donors like imidazolidinyl urea , the isothiazolinones and the parabens.

The drawbacks or all three of these are well known.  Nobody likes the idea of putting formaldehyde on their skin at any level.  You can put up a good scientific defence of formaldehyde - it is so widespread from natural sources that it is unlikely that body will even notice the amount in cosmetics preserved with formaldehyde donors.  But if you think science has anything to do with consumer perceptions you probably haven't been paying attention.

The isothiazolinones get a fair bit of bad press but don't seem to resonate negatively with the general public.  But their Achilles heal is the very real irritant reactions that they cause to a small proportion of end users.  The sufferers may be a small percentage, but they have 100% of a problem.  And for a really big brand even a low percentage of reactions translates to a large number of unhappy customers.

The parabens have a very good track record of working well without upsetting the end user, but unfortunately due to sustained hostility from the media and natural product sector their reputation has been blasted.  Paraben free is now almost a given in some categories.

So given this background almost any new options are welcome.  Formulators are often at their wits end when it comes to finding something that preserves effectively, is skin friendly and doesn't frighten the end user.    So the guys at Dr Straetmans are going to get at an attentive ear when they offer something else.  And that something else is Dermasoft OMP, a blend of  Methylpropanediol, Caprylyl Glycol and Phenylpropanol.

They address the first question very directly.  Does it work?  They present some actual challenge test data drawn from a set of reasonably diverse model formulations.  The results are pretty good.  And they put in a comparator preservative comprising phenoxyethanol and a blend of parabens.   I think they have made the case that their product is worth considering.

The downside is that they data generated use the blend at 3%.   This is a very high level indeed and is going to be a challenge for the costs of some kinds of formulation.  We also don't know how skin friendly this blend is going to be.  It takes a while for reactions to start occurring.  But I don't want to carp.  Anything is worth a try. In a sense, we don't really want to ditch our existing preservatives.  The problem the industry has is that we all rely on too few preservatives.  If you are unlucky enough to be allergic to either one of the parabens or the isothiazolinones you are going to have a real headache finding products that suit you.  If for no other reason, this is a good one to give Dermasoft OPM a try.


Ibarra and Jänichen Personal Care April 2013

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