About preservatives in our skincare products

You’re on the go, one hand holding the phone and the other plunging into your handbag that holds used tissues, car keys and granola bars along with food crumbs and old receipts. You’re desperately trying to reach your creams - to the outside world, it looks like you're wrestling with a small seabass. You’ve forgotten to wash your hands and that you’ve just used the ATM around the corner, but you dip your fingers into your product and before you know it you’ve given bacteria from your hands a lovely new home and they're multiplying by the minute. Cheerio homemade skincare product.

This is why preservatives join the party. Preservatives inhibit the growth of bacteria, yeast, and fungi in food and cosmetic products and thereby prevent them from spoiling. Certain types of bacteria and microbes can even be more harmful than skincare products with harsh preservatives.

Water is used in multiple products as a solvent and to form emulsions which are the building blocks of creams and lotions. Bacteria, yeast and mould easily grow in aqueous environments, which include products that use ingredients such as aloe vera, floral water and hydrosols or products that get water into it such as body and facial scrubs. However, anhydrous products such as balms, butters and oils do not need preservatives. Rather, antioxidants such as Tocopherol (Vitamin E), Grapefruit seed oil and Rosemary oil are used to prolong the shelf life.

But even products with preservatives are susceptible to bacterial growth. A study done by LD Pack, et al. on the microbial contamination of mascara proved that bacterial growth increased by almost 40% after just three months.

Some common preservatives used in the cosmetic industry are believed to be harmful to the skin and to the environment. In order to ensure the safety of our formulations, while keeping it natural, Le Riche Naturals uses various strategies to ensure products are microbiologically safe to use. This includes using natural “hurdles” to slow microbial growth, minimising water content and using a variety of naturally occurring antimicrobials. Then, last but not the least, as a final test, relevant products are sent to a lab for challenge testing. This is where a variety of microorganisms are added to the formulation. It is incubated for 28 days, and if there is microbial growth, the product fails the test. In this case, it is back to the drawing board until the product passes the test. There should be no growth of microorganisms in order to pass the final test.


Natural preservatives such as Sodium Benzoate (commonly found in blueberries), Dehydroacetic acid and Benzyl alcohol to name a few are used in some of the Le Riche Naturals products. These preservatives follow the Ecocert (certification body for sustainable development) standards for natural and organic cosmetics. Additionally, the essential oils in our products are often used for their anti-microbial, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties and not exclusively for their botanical scent.

We look at each formulation holistically with the aim of making a safe product that is very gentle on the skin and super effective against pre-mature aging.

To ensure you receive the bountiful benefits from using our products, remember to clean your hands beforehand (reach for the handwash before the creams). We also recommend storing your products in the fridge and avoid exposure to direct sunlight. This will ensure products last longer and retain the vitality required to impart excellent results.

Happy skin and happy shopping and next time you are near Vredenheim, why don't you visit us?