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What are they  used for ?
Preservatives are substances of natural or synthetic origin whose main role is to prevent the development of microbes (bacteria and fungi). They are widely used to prevent microbial contamination of food, medicine or cosmetic products.
Parabens and phenoxyethanol are examples of preservatives.
Where do they  come from ?
Preservatives are most often synthetic substances of different chemical families (aldehydes, parabens, phenoxyethanol, organic acids).
They can also be of natural origin and chemically transformed (e.g.: benzoic or salicylic acid).
What are they  used for ?
Preservatives are used in cosmetic products to preserve product quality and ensure consumer safety by preventing the growth of microbes. A poorly protected and contaminated cosmetic product, used for example on eye contour or on the skin, poses a risk to the consumer and can lead to irritations or infections. They are essential to ensure the protection of certain categories of products from microbial contamination that can occur during manufacturing or after repeated use. Cosmetic products have a relatively long lifetime (6 to 24 months after opening) and, unlike perishable foods, are kept at room temperature.
Why and how  do we use them ?
We use a very limited number of selected preservatives for certain categories of products. Their concentrations are rigorously determined to ensure the right level of microbiological protection of the product, in the strict respect of international regulations, in order to ensure a complete safety for the consumer.
We use different kinds of preservatives: if the same preservatives are constantly used, this leads to a higher exposure and therefore a higher risk of allergy for the consumer.
Preservatives used in organic products can be of natural origin and chemically transformed. We already use some of them in our products, but given their intrinsic allergenic potential (increased risks of allergic contact dermatitis), we want to gather more data of "cosmetovigilance" before using them on a larger scale. In addition, their specific characteristics mean that they cannot be used in all formulations.
We are developing more specific packaging and new formulations that are invulnerable to microbiological contamination.
Why are they  questioned ?
They are often accused of causing allergies, playing a role in the occurrence of certain cancers, and are singled out as endocrine disruptors.
- The number and concentration of preservatives that can be used in cosmetic products are very limited and strictly regulated by numerous international regulations.
- The safety data of these preservatives are very often re-examined by the scientific experts of the international health authorities, in order to take into account the most recent studies.
- At this occasion, the concentrations that can be used in cosmetic products can be adjusted in order to eliminate the potential impacts on the consumer’s health.
- In Europe the experts comittee of toxicologues, to evaluate the safety of a preservative, take into account the fact that the preservative can be used in several types of cosmetic products