Natural Preservatives for your all natural skin care products

Natural Preservatives for your Natural Products & Shelf Life Information.

Please, Please, PLEASE do your research when it comes to adding preservatives to your all natural beauty products! Don’t just go by one article. Research ingredients, ALL of them before choosing what to use.

As we know, because the products here are made from all natural ingredients, their shelf lives are much shorter due to the lack of nasty chemicals. I would much prefer keeping my product batches small and refrigerated than buy chemical enhanced products any day!

Did you know, it takes only 26 seconds for the chemicals in most store-bought products to enter your bloodstream? I say most because many of them are switching to organic based ingredients. BUT at the same time, many product lines are masquerading around claiming to be all natural and are adding in harmful parabins, SLS, (Sodium laureth sulfate) SLES, (sodium lauryl ether sulfate) etc. PLEASE Check your product ingredients.

Did you know there is an app called Think Dirty where you can scan the bar code of products and it will rate the danger of the ingredients!

All natural products will spoil sooner but that’s okay! Organic food spoils sooner than pesticide sprayed food too! I think It’s safer to use caution and use all natural  products than it is to use cancer inducing chemical products. If you want to go all natural, just research the risks and shelf life of keeping your products so you can be sure they are safe and fresh for use.

There are so many contradicting articles out there, it’s hard to figure out which ones are backed by evidence. I find it’s easier to pick apart the ingredient list in any product you are considering to use, and research each one individually.

GERMALL: I see this pop up often as a recommended preservative for all natural products but upon further reading, It states that the DIAZOLIDINYL UREA in Germall works by releasing formaldehyde into the product. Strong evidence suggests it is linked to dermatitis, acts as a skin toxicant or allergen, may be linked with cancer and may be derived from animal products. (In some cases this is considered a parabin)

Base link of information on DIAZOLIDINYL UREA

Here is a link from about avoiding germall


Organic Lecithin Powder OR Lecithin Powder (there is also a liquid version on the site)

Lecithin is a waxy like ingredient derived from soybeans. It acts as an emulsifier and thickening agent for both food and cosmetic products and improves a products shelf life by acting as a mild preservative. A valuable ingredient for cosmetic creams, lotions and other body delights. – Mountain Rose Herbs

Citric Acid:

Our citric acid comes from the fermentation of crude fruit sugars and is chiefly used to help extend a products shelf life, in retaining a products texture, and guarding against appearance loss. It is also a fabulous base ingredient in bath fizzies and scrubbing salts. Blends easily and fluidly without creating a gritty feeling to the final product. Undeniably, citric acid is a very important ingredient for use in natural body care and cosmetic recipes. Not only does citric acid have many varied applications and uses, but it has also been approved by the FDA and other food regulatory agencies. Furthermore, since citric acid is present in almost every life form, it is consequently easily metabolized and eliminated from the body. Precautions: Direct contact may result in skin and eye irritation if exposed to concentrated solutions of the dry product. – Mountain Rose Herbs. 

Rosemary Antioxidant Extract,

The organic Rosemary antioxidant offered by Mountain Rose Herbs remains the number one choice for the natural preservation of handmade cosmetics, creams, lotions, and other herbal compounds. Its concentrated nature allows you to use sparingly with effective results. Precautions: In regards to all Rosemary products, women who have heavy periods should avoid excessive use of rosemary because it can stimulate menstrual flow. The herb should also not be used medicinally during pregnancy. Small amounts of rosemary used in cooking, however, are safe for pregnant women and for women who have heavy periods.- Mountain Rose Herbs. 

Other Options May Include: Cinnamon, Geranium Essential Oil, Goldenseal root, Grapefruit Seed Extract, Green tea extract, Green tea leaf powder, Potassium Sorbate, Rosemary extract powder, Vitamin E T-50 Mixed Tocopherol Oil.

Standard Shelf Life guidelines:

  • Mainly 3 – 6 months (kept in the fridge) for almost all natural products
  • 4- 6 weeks out of the refrigerator.
  • Products containing food should be kept for only a week, in the fridge.
  • Products containing water (or where water is introduced – scrubs) should be used up within 1- 2 weeks

(These are just general guidelines I use. Always check for discoloration / scent changes – this is not always evident in every case, though.)

My advice for home-made skin care products is to make small batches and keep them in the fridge. Make enough for what you will use for the week. If you are adding natural antioxidants or preservatives, make what you will use in a month but still try to keep refrigerated. If you can’t or don’t want to store products in the fridge, store them somewhere cool and dark or designate a tinted container to keep them in. Using jars and bottles that are amber or cobalt will keep them fresher longer. Always use clean / sterilized tools, containers, working surfaces, and hands while making your products. If you are using a product like a scrub where you will have to put wet fingers into, try keeping a plastic spoon or Popsicle stick close by where you can scoop with that instead.

It’s not only important to keep your made products refrigerated & safe, you also have to consider your raw materials as well. Herbs, oils, butters, etc.

Guidelines for Raw Materials From Lotion Secrets:

Use your raw materials while they are fresh. Don’t let your herbs get stale or your oils go rancid. Use your raw materials within 3 months and give each bottle of lotion no longer than a 3 month shelf life. Dried herbs and cold-pressed, refrigerated oils may last longer. Expeller oils will stay active and fresh no longer than 6 months, even when refrigerated.

Here is a MASSIVE LIST of general guidelines to different carrier oils & Their SHELF LIFE.

Here is another great link on How to preserve and extend the shelf life of your skin, nail and hair care products you make at home.

Here is a list of natural skin care preservatives from

(Please read all the user comments in the link’s thread as well, many good observations)

Organic Lotion Secrets’ Glossary Natural Preservatives / Natural Preservative Chart as well as great conversion & percentage charts!

All I ask is that you do your research before choosing a preservative to add into your skin care products. Don’t even go by what you read here, keep researching.

I recommend Mountain Rose Herbs & Starwest Botanicals for all of your herbal healing needs! For my Canadian Friends, you can purchase your oils at Harmonious Mind. You can purchase any extra supplies over at Images Edited using PicMonkey. Some of the links here are affiliate sites, meaning if you make a purchase using my link, I earn a small commission! Thank You for supporting The Herbal Healing Mama. & Please also see my disclaimer. Thanks Friends.

Let me know what you suggest or use in your products and why?


5 thoughts on “Natural Preservatives for your Natural Products & Shelf Life Information.

  1. red says:

    I like the information you have posted it will help a kit of people, however the rosemary with antioxidant and citric acid are nor preserveatives, they only EXTEND the life of your products and extending your oils and butters from going rancid they do not preserve, there is a wonderful article from soap queen on her talk back Tuesday blog about when and what preservatives to use and there is no mention of germal but has many wonderful preservation tips, also its not necessary to use preservation in cold process or melt and pour soaps, also not needed in salves balms , , any products that don’t contain water, you really only need to worry about lotions(liquid) or scrubs, things that have water in them or that come into contact with water in your shower/bath..

    Liked by 1 person

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