Formulators will almost universally agree that cosmetic products must be preserved sufficiently to protect the end customer. The main reason that products must be preserved is that, that will ensure that the mixture is protected from the contamination, that it will be exposed to during normal usage (whether that contamination is intentional or unintentional). We can't keep products in our fridge just to minimise bacterial growth.
In todays market we find a wide range of users from those who don't know what they are using (and dont even bother to read the instructions) to the other side of the spectrum where the product's ingredient label is read carefully and unknow ingredients are carefully researched. Today's consumers are experts as to where to find ingredient information on the products they purchase, and are extensively using the internet to validate label information.
We know from experience that there are some ingredients that have their own anti-microbial activity. These are short chain alcohols, antioxidants, glycols, a number of herbal extracts, essential oils and a number of other ingredients. Even Zinc Oxide when used as an inorganic sunscreen will have sufficient anti-microbial properties at high enough concentrations to inhibit microbial growth. In those sircumstances a preservative-free claim can safely be made. Ingredients listed as preservatives must be used and notified as such, but ingredients not appearing on any official preservative lists but which do have their own inherent anti-microbial activity, can be used to make a preservative-free claim. Microbiologists would have the experience and background to see that some of the other ingredients in the formula are working in that capacity. This is certainly on the proviser that the product passes the typical 3 month microbiology challenge test.
in 2010 a questsion was posed to formulators "would you be comfortable launching a preservative free product" and the responce was significant.
So, with a good percentage responding that they would not be comfortable launching a preservative-free product, how do we address this issue and convince the consumer that preservatives should and must be used in all cosmetic products?
So we certainly do need to launch clean cosmetic products and make sure they stay clean during their use and shelf life while in the possession of the consumer using whatever ingredients necessary and available to achieve this goal. This should be the objective of every formulator no matter where they are from. It's a fairly simple task - but very safe and effective. And by the looks of that poll, most of the formulators out there are certainly in agreement with this.