Clean and green preservative solutions

Beauty consumers today are becoming more aware of the ingredients used in their cosmetic regime and there is an increasing demand for cleaner and greener beauty products. Beauty brands are reformulating their product lines trying to answer the market shifting trends. However, components that are considered “clean” and “natural” can sometimes be misleading and not always safe. There is a need for more clarity and a better understanding of these new trends, and the focus should be on safer and more effective solutions.

Preservatives are a fundamental part of the formula since they ensure the safety of the consumer. They inhibit the growth of bacteria, yeast, mold, and fungi, even after the product has been opened and exposed to the elements and during use. Inappropriate preservation of a formula can pose serious health risks to the skin. The task formulators must address is choosing a preservative solution that will guarantee product safety.

The risk of contamination can be influenced by many factors: product type, where it is stored, its exposure to moisture, heat, or humidity. The presence of natural extracts, mud, clay, and water content. Product Packaging such as in an open jar, may increase the contamination risk if compared to a pump or tube. It is these characteristics that determine the type of threat that the product will address, such as gram-negative and positive bacteria, yeast, or mold. The formulators must also take into consideration other aspects such as regulatory updates, impact on odor, color, compatibility with other ingredients, or even the country’s climate.

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Current trends leave formulators with fewer options, as they face a rapidly shrinking pool of compounds of interest. Many of the existing preservative solutions are not strong enough to handle the antimicrobial challenge. When the preservative solution is not strong enough, there are a few actions the manufacturers of finished goods can do. They can raise the level of use, and that would probably be over 1%. Another option is to add additional material such as boosters, additional preservatives, and extract with some antimicrobial activity. One more path is adding a chelating agent, and of course, a combination of all the above.

However, those steps have implications. A higher level of use of a preservative can raise regulatory issues as many materials are allowed for use in a specific limit (like Phenoxyethanol or Benzyl alcohol at a 1% maximal limit). In addition, a higher level of use can cause formulation hurdles such as the impact on viscosity, stability, odor, and more. Further implications come from the end-user angle, such as skin sensitivity, and, of course, higher cost.

Sharon Laboratories are a global manufacturer of solutions for preserving and prolonging the shelf life of personal care products. It is an industry leader in the development, production, and marketing of preservatives. Since it established its first production and R&D center in 1977, Sharon Laboratories has built itself a worldwide reputation for developing preservatives and became one of the leading global firms in the sector. Sharon Laboratories’​ accumulated knowledge has allowed it to formulate a wide variety of innovative and highly successful products, providing solutions for the entire personal care industry.

Sharon Laboratories’ mission is to fill the gap between chemical and natural. Our study and innovation are based on identifying and exploiting the synergistic effects between hand-picked compounds and optimizing the use of already authorized compounds. The task Sharon Laboratories set up to achieve was to create a broad spectrum, high efficacy preservative, which originates from natural compounds, but is created in the lab. In the development process, we screened many natural elements for anti-bacterial and anti-fungal activity. Once a certain compound was identified, it was time to turn to the lab and choose a synthetic homolog. This fruitful approach resulted in an innovative patented preservative solution, SharoSENSE™ Plus.

SharoSENSE™ Plus preservative solution is based on the active ingredient Maltol, which was identified as a key ingredient in this concept combined with specific cationic elements. Maltol is a naturally occurring organic compound. It has an EWG score of 1, GRAS, found in Cosing, and has a great solubility in water with clear environmental benefits, as it is also readily biodegradable.

Another major concern for consumers is skin irritation due to ingredients in cosmetic products. Components that are considered “clean” and “natural” can be misleading. When preserving cosmetics formulation, there is a need to look at factors causing skin sensitivity and to better understand the challenges formulators face when preserving products for sensitive skin.

Our skin acts as a shield, holding moisture and keeping out damaging elements. The sensitive skin barrier is weaker and tends to let through things that irritate it. The face is the most common site of skin sensitivity because of a thinner skin barrier, a much higher density of nerve endings, the many products applied to the face, and the continued exposure of our face to the environment.

The industry has struggled to bring efficient alternatives to cater to the sensitive skin market. Cosmetic brands facing customer feedback for skin irritation are challenging the preservative system to adapt to this need. SharoSENSE™ Plus line was put to the test and found safe when applied to sensitive skin and facial areas: eyes and lips.

One of the most popular ingredients in skincare is hyaluronic acid and there is increasing consumer demand for this ingredient in facial care products. Some formulations can contain up to 20% of sodium hyaluronate, which requires preservation that can handle that in terms of compatibility.

SharoSENSE™ Plus 181 Natural preservative solution is Sharon Laboratories’ newest addition, bringing a novel preservative solution based on Natural Maltol. It is suitable for a wide range of applications, including facial care products containing a high percentage of sodium hyaluronate. SharoSENSE™ Plus 181-N shows excellent efficacy in products with hyaluronic acid, as seen in this challenge test, at a level of use of 0.5%, achieving complete protection against bacteria, yeast, and mold.


In addition to its natural origin, SharoSENSE™ Plus 181 Natural preservative solution offers environmental benefits thanks to its renewable carbon index. In fact, 99.3% of the SharoSENSE™ Plus181-N carbon is renewable, and it has a Natural Origin Index ISO16128 of 99.6%

SharoSENSE™ Plus 181 Natural comes in powder form, and it is highly soluble in water. It supports a minimalistic approach: 2 components only, eliminating the need for co-solvent or other booster and at a low level of use. Bringing to the market a great natural clean beauty preservative solution and achieving complete protection against bacteria, yeast, and mold.

In conclusion, a naturally derived ingredient does not guarantee safety. When formulating beauty products, formulators need to take all this into account and search for the right solution to answer all aspects without compromising on the cosmetic product safety, the formula efficacy and compatibility, as well as being safe for the skin and for the environment. Sharon Laboratories have found the link between natural and synthetic is a key to filling the gaps of the preservation needs of the personal care industry. While SharoSENSE™ Plus with Maltol core is a start, more options will follow, as we turn back to nature for solutions, and combine that with R&D in the labs.

Written by Tali Cohen, Marketing Manager, Sharon Laboratories

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