The first preservatives were cold temperatures, drying, and salt; the first cosmetic preservative was soap.
Preservatives are deadly by definition because they attempt to change and modify the life cycle, which we all know ends in decay and death. Preservatives can be dangerous, too, because they are a part of the synthetic belief system that says mankind can come up with something better than Mother Nature. I don’t know about you, but I personally don’t think all the men with all the degrees in all the labs in the world will ever be able to come up with anything better than Mother Nature.
Mother Nature has an inherent wisdom in every cell, plant, tree, and flower that will never be duplicated, never improved, and certainly never truly replicated by man. If you are of this mindset, read on; if not, you probably will not find this chapter interesting or helpful. It is not a matter of what is right or wrong; it is a matter of what you believe.
Decay and death are a natural part of life. Many synthetic preservatives simply mask the decaying process. Have you ever wondered how that bottle of lotion has stayed pearly and white in your bathroom closet for five years? I find that a little scary. I don’t want a lotion to put on my face that looks the same as it did five years ago. Doesn’t it age? Of course it does. It’s five years old. You know that. Then why hasn’t it changed at all? It is unnatural. Fresh fruit and vegetables age, decay, and spoil because they are natural.
There are two issues here. One is a mindset, a philosophy. Do I think a company that makes a product knows better than Mother Nature? And do I want to pretend that neither I nor the cosmetic products I buy will never decay or die? The second issue is, do I think these petro-based and synthetic chemicals are going to benefit my skin?
There are sub-issues as well; for example, it is said these synthetic chemicals are necessary as preservatives because they are the best way to kill microorganisms. But are they more toxic than the bacteria they are supposed to kill? Plus, the testing is often done on animals. My question goes past the ethical question and into the validity issue: Does the fact that it was tested on animals prove that it is safe for humans?
Deciding what’s acceptable
As I said in the beginning of the book, I am not a scientist, a doctor, a chemist, or anything like that. I am just an American woman struggling to find solutions to my own skin problems and trying to sort out what is right for me. I have more questions than answers, and a lot of the answers are not right or wrong. They are based on what I believe and what I think is acceptable for me. You can decide for yourself.
I think the first requirement of a preservative is that it must be free from toxins, irritants, or other harmful ingredients to the skin. Question: Are most toxic preservatives put in the product to protect you or the manufacturer? The mass marketers of cosmetic products make thousands of bottles a week. They then ship it to distributors where it may sit warehoused for months or years. The stores call in orders that are gradually shipped out. It is very efficient, making up large batches a couple of times a year. It lets companies focus on selling their products instead of making them.
I completely understand why they do it. It makes their lives easier, and their companies more profitable. What I don’t understand is why people want to buy those products. By comparison, the way I and just a few other companies in the world make our products—in small batches, often, and with natural ingredients—is difficult, labor intensive, expensive, and problematic.
Difficulties in formulating all-natural products
Few recognize how difficult it is formulating an all-natural product. It requires patience, diligence, and discipline to take ten to fifteen years of trial and error to make these products work. I tried to get our first cream right for ten years, with literally thousands of different attempts. I am still trying to get it to naturally preserve longer, unsuccessfully. You have to try the same ingredients hundreds of different ways to get them right. Heat this, cool that, add this first, this second, this last. Sometimes it doesn’t work right unless the three ingredients are the same temperature, and on and on.
Many companies don’t even make their own products. They take the easy route. They simply call a private labeler, who makes many companies’ products, onto which they slap their own labels.
We go through the formulating process weekly that many manufacturers go through only once or twice a year. It’s just as much work to make a batch of fifty as it is 50,000. We ship them out directly and immediately to the store, bypassing distributors and warehouses. Our products may only be five days old when you buy them. Because we are so small, we also have to handcraft a lot of things. We are not automated and have no sophisticated filler machines.
Cost of ingredients
The labor is just one of many reasons it is so much more expensive to make a clean product. Most important, however, are the ingredients we use. They are expensive, but we prefer them because we believe in making synthetic-free, purely botanical™ products for our customers. We use rosehip seed oil, primrose oil, kukui oil, and essential oils. Many other body care products have a few cents’ worth of these ingredients and are mostly composed of inexpensive ingredients. Also, as mentioned above, coming up with new products takes thousands of hours of manpower.
The preservatives we use are essential oils, vitamins, and citrus seed extracts that cost up to hundreds of dollars per gallon, while most synthetic preservatives are very cheap. Problem: Because our products do not last for years, we must make sure they sell fast. We guarantee them for one year, but they need to move quickly.
Using only agricultural ingredients also leaves my company vulnerable to Mother Nature. When you benefit so greatly from her, you must also pay the price. For example, a few years ago the almond crop was small due to poor weather, so the price of almond oil tripled overnight.
In many cases, the botanical ingredient varies in its chemical constituents depending on such variables as where it was grown, what kind of season the growers had, how much water and sun it was exposed to, and when it was harvested. Therefore, unlike synthetic ingredients where the chemical makeup is always consistent, purely botanical™ ingredients can vary. And so can the end products. Many people don’t like that. Like McDonald’s and their Big Mac customers, many consumers want everything to always be the same. Like Holiday Inn, they prefer no surprises. Working with Mother Nature’s purely botanical™ gifts is challenging. But I prefer her natural products in the skin products I formulate.
Be aware that it is often the preservative that irritates the skin and makes people break out. Therefore, the preservative system is an important part of the product for the consumer to learn about and recognize. You need to decide for yourself what to believe and choose for your skin care.
For more information and beauty tips you can purchase Beauty, Health and Happiness–A way of life an online version for only $2.99!