In my previous post, I highlighted the importance of proper preservation for natural homemade skin care products that contain water. It’s important that you understand your preservative-free formulations are not going to stay as long and fresh as commercial products.
We use preservative to prevent product damage caused by microorganisms such as bacteria, mold and yeast and to protect the product from inadvertent contamination during use.
What about natural preservatives? Natural preservatives such as essential oils don’t offer broad spectrum anti-microbial protection against bacteria, mold and yeast. The amount needed to make it a preservative is usually too high and unsafe to use in homemade skin care products.
Some people prefer their homemade skin care products to be all natural and chemical free. They prefer not to use chemical preservatives and would leave them out.
In this article I will share with you useful tips on how to preserve and protect your natural homemade skin care products without preservatives.
1. Keep Water Out
Anytime water is added to natural homemade skin care products, it also becomes a breeding ground for harmful microorganisms.
As I’ve mentioned earlier that natural preservatives lack anti-microbial properties, so it can’t protect products against these little beasties.
If your product contains water, milk, hydrosols, herbal tea or other aqueous liquids, a chemical preservative is essential.
If you are not a fan of chemical preservative, I suggest you make a small batch of your product, store it in the refrigerator to further retard bacterial growth and oxidation and use it up within a week.
2. Make Oil-Based Products
Generally speaking, oil-based products such as lip balm, body butter and bar soaps will not need a preservative, but an antioxidant is recommended to prolong their shelf life.
Antioxidants help to slow the process of oxidation which causes oils to go rancid.
For those that aren’t a fan of chemical preservatives, making oil based product is a great option to eliminate the need of a chemical preservative.
3. Wash Hands
It is important that you wash your hands thoroughly when preparing and making your product.
Contamination will cause your product to go bad faster, which makes it unsafe for use.
4. Clean Utensils, Containers and Work Surface
Always clean your utensils, containers, work surface and any other tools you’re going to use to make your product. This helps to ensure that you do not introduce bacteria to your products and contaminate them.
Brand new containers may be clean, but clean them anyways.
Wash the utensil and containers with dish wash detergent, proceed to boil them, then allow them to completely dry.
Next, wipe down utensils, containers and work surface with isopropyl alcohol diluted with water.
70 % alcohol & 30 % water works better than 100% alcohol. 100% alcohol evaporates too fast, water in the alcohol slows evaporation, therefore increases surface contact time and enhances effectiveness.
5. Do Not Obtain Water-Based Products With Your Fingers
Our fingers contain tons of bacteria and can transfer germs to products and contaminate them.
If you store your products in jars, try to avoid dipping your fingers into your jars.
Instead, use a clean spoon, toothpick, or popsicle stick or other appropriate utensil to obtain the amount you need for use. This will prevent introducing bacteria to your product.
6. Carefully Select Your Container to Store Your Product
I personally don’t like to store my water-based products in jars because of inadvertent contamination during use and frequent exposure of products to air, which can cause products to spoil much faster.
Choose your containers carefully for your natural homemade skin care products to help minimize contamination.
My personal favorite is a silicone container. They are leak proof, easy to use and fill, 100% BPA free food grade silicone, great for travel, and also convenient for dispensing anything with a thicker consistency, like cream.
Silicon containers help to minimize air exposure, making them a good option for moisturizers and creams that contain unstable ingredients, such as retinol or vitamin C.
With silicone containers, I don’t have to worry about transferring germs from fingers to the product, which can contaminate and decrease the shelf life of my products.
7. Other Containers I Recommend
Pump dispensers are great for lotions, essential oils, liquid soaps and other homemade products.
They tend to be more hygienic than jars because you’re not touching the product with your fingers every time you use it, which can contaminate it and cause the product to go spoil much faster.
Amber Glass Bottle Bottles with Plastic Pump
- These 8 oz amber glass pump bottles are great for protecting your products from harmful ultraviolet rays.
- They are refillable BPA-free bottles for essential oils, lotions, liquid soaps, or other organic beauty products.
- They come with reusable chalk labels, so when you fill them with something different, simply wipe the label clean and label them something new on the bottle with chalk or chalk pen.
- These amber glass bottles are durable and much safer than plastic bottles.
Airless Pump Bottles
Airless pump bottles are also great for minimizing air exposure, making them a great option for moisturizers and creams that contain unstable ingredients, such as retinol or vitamin C.
They’re also convenient for dispensing products, which helps to prevent contamination and extend the shelf life of your products.
There are many advantages about airless pump bottles.
- Have you ever tried to pump out the last drops of your lotion from standard pump dispenser but can’t because the dip tube is not long enough? You either have to throw it away or take it apart and dig out as much lotion as you can before throwing it away. This will not be an issue with the airless pump bottle. It will dispense almost all of your product so almost nothing goes to waste.
- Airless pump bottle has no dip tube but rather utilizes a vacuum system to dispense the product. It works by having a tiny bit of air push under a plate at the bottom of the bottle that pushes the product upward. So when you pressed the pump, it creates a vacuum effect which pushes the product up.
- The bottle doesn’t have to be placed upright in order to work because the pump will push the product out regardless of which way it leans.
- Airless pump bottle helps to protect sensitive products such as creams, serums, foundations, and other preservative-free formula creams by keeping air and contaminants out, thus enhances the formula’s stability and effectiveness and helps to extend the shelf life of your products.
- If you plan to sell your product, airless pump bottle is a great packaging option that offers excellent branding effect. It also gives your product a luxurious and sophisticated look which allows you to charge more for your products.
White Airless Vacuum Pump Travel Bottles Refillable
- This product comes with a set of 6 (1 0z) refillable high-quality airless pump bottles with a white body that helps to keep light out.
- It helps to minimize contamination and spoilage of products, thus extends the shelf life of your products.
- It’s perfect for DIY essential oil blends, serums, liquid soaps and light lotions. However, it may be more difficult to load and dispense heavy creams.
Keep your products out of direct sunlight and heat. Store them in a cool place.
If your water containing skin care products do not contain preservatives, be sure to store them in the refrigerator.
Refrigeration is a natural preservative that helps to expand the shelf life of a product. The cold temperature of the refrigerator helps to delay the growth of bacteria.
If you have time to make a small batch of preservative-free water formulations on a weekly basis, follow these tips will help you prolong the shelf life of your products for about a week.
Sometimes it’s difficult to determine if a product is still safe to use based on how it smells and looks. So if your products smell and look funny, do not use them.
If your preservative-free formulations are not used up within a week, even if they smell and look fine, it’s best that your discard them and make a fresh batch.
Making your natural homemade skin care products are not only fun and rewarding, it’s also very important that you understand how to create safe products.
After all, we create our own products because we want to avoid harmful ingredients in the commercial product and we don’t want to accidentally create something that can be harmful to our health.
One last thing I want to mention is if you are going to make a water-containing product and want to use it beyond a week or so, a chemical preservative is a MUST. The risk of using a chemical preservative is far less than the risk of not using one.
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