10 Natural Preservatives for Homemade Lotion & Skin Care (+FAQS)

In this article, you’ll learn about 10 natural and organic-approved preservatives to consider adding to your handmade lotions, creams, and other DIY skin care products.

a row of lotion photos

For years I made my family lotions and creams with no preservatives since I thought all preservatives were harmful chemicals.

What I didn’t realize is that there are lots of natural (nature-derived) and organic preservative options available to the home crafter!

Some natural preservative choices for homemade lotions and creams

But first, do you *really* need a preservative?

If you’re making something without water, such as salves, balms, lip balm, or body butter, you usually don’t need to add a preservative.

Oil based (anhydrous) products are fine on their own, but once you add water, or a water-based ingredient (like aloe, witch hazel, hydrosol), then you create a cozy place for bacteria and mold to grow.

I was doubtful about this in the past – after all I couldn’t SEE bacteria or mold in my unpreserved lotions and creams and they looked and smelled fine. To get to the bottom of it all, I decided to perform some home microbial tests on my lotions and was pretty shocked at what I found hiding in them.

Video: Testing homemade lotions for mold & bacteria:

Here’s a video of me using at home test kits on my lotions, and the results. Heads-up: If you’re squeamish about seeing mold, a couple of these look kind of gross! Sometimes an ad plays first, but the video plays right after. (If you have an adblocker, you won’t see the video player at all.)

What if you’re ULTRA sensitive to preservatives?

I have a highly sensitive ‘canary in a coal mine’ kid, so I get it. I truly do.

If you can’t tolerate even these mild natural preservatives, make a single small batch of lotion/cream at a time, store it in your refrigerator, and use it up within a few days.

I’ve also successfully frozen tiny batches of face cream, though haven’t tested longevity/success past one or two months in the freezer.

For an in-depth resource about making lotions and creams from scratch, plus loads of helpful information about the best oils, butters, essential oils, herbs, flowers, and other natural ingredients to use for your skin type and needs, be sure to check out my Handmade Lotions & Creams eBook Collection!

image for handmade lotions and creams ebook collection

10 Natural or Organic Approved Preservatives

Here are ten preservatives to consider using in your natural homemade lotions and creams, plus their use level (recommended amount), maximum temperature to add them, recommended pH, and any relevant notes.

(If you want to sell skin care products as a business, you will need to personally experiment with and then test, test, test to find out the best preservative system or combination of preservatives for your unique products.)

Geogard ECT
(Preservative ECO, Plantaserv M)

Benzyl Alcohol, Salicylic Acid, Glycerin, and Sorbic Acid
0.6 to 1%under 113°F (45°C)3 to 8Meets COSMOS and ECOCERT standards; broad spectrum, not for kids under 3 in the EU because of the salicylic acid portion, my favorite for lotions & creams
Leucidal SF Complete
Lactobacillus Ferment, Lactobacillus, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Fruit Extract
2 to 4%below 104°F (40°C)3 to 8; under 6 is bestECOCERT & COSMOS approved; offers moisturizing & skin conditioning benefits; contains Amticide Coconut
Leucidal Liquid Complete
Leuconostoc/Radish Root Ferment Filtrate & Lactobacillus & Cocos
Nucifera (Coconut) Fruit Extract
2 to 4%below 104°F (40°C)3 to 8; under 6 is bestECOCERT & COSMOS approved; contains Amticide Coconut; add 0.2% NeoDefend for stronger action
Leucidal SF Max
Lactobacillus Ferment
2 to 4%below 104°F (40°C)3 to 8; under 6 is bestECOCERT & COSMOS approved; offers moisturizing & skin conditioning benefits; should be combined with Amticide Coconut
Amticide Coconut
Lactobacillus & Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Fruit Extract
2 to 4%under 158°F (70°C)3 to 8; under 6 is bestECOCERT & Whole Foods approved; not used alone; combine with other preservatives to give them extra mold protection
Phytocide Aspen Bark Powder
Populus Tremuloides Bark Extract
0.2 to 3%under 158°F (70°C)3 to 8Evens skin texture; add to water phase (under 158°F) or while lotion is still watery; combine with other preservatives at 0.2% to boost their effectiveness
(GeoGard Ultra, MicroGuard)
Gluconolactone (and) Sodium Benzoate
0.75 to 1.5%under 158°F (70°C)3 to 6; under 5 is bestECOCERT approved; don’t use in products with L-Ascorbic Acid (vitamin C); can also be combined at 0.2% with other preservatives to boost their effectiveness
Willow Bark Extract
Salix Nigra (Willow) Bark Extract
2.5 to 5%under 176°F (80°C)4 to 7Used as a back-up preservative; may help in acne or muscle pain products; source of natural salicylic acid-like ingredients; may increase sun sensitivity
Arborcide OC
Leuconostoc Ferment Filtrate
2 to 4%under 158°F (70°C)3 to 8; under 6 is bestOrganic Compliant (OC); combine with 2% AMTicide Coconut and/or 0.2% NeoDefend
Phytocide Elderberry OS
Sambucus Nigra Fruit Extract
1 to 5%under 167°F (75°C)3 to 8ECOCERT & COSMOS approved; use in oil-based products such as scrubs, or add to oil phase and combine with another preservative for backup
A chart of natural preservative options for those who make their own lotions, creams, and scrubs at home, but want to avoid parabens or other concerning chemicals.

Antioxidants versus Preservatives

What’s the difference between an antioxidant and a preservative?

This is a common point of confusion that tripped me up for a long time, because the same misinformation keeps getting repeated around the internet.

What are antioxidants & what do they do?

Antioxidants keep oils and butters from going rancid too quickly. Some examples include vitamin E and rosemary extract – they are effective antioxidants which slow down oxidation so your oils won’t age or smell like old oil sooner than they should, but won’t kill the bacteria and mold that spoils water based products such as lotions and creams, and other cosmetics.

Vitamin E is a terrific antioxidant, but unfortunately it will not kill bacteria, yeast, or fungi. Vitamin E (tocopherols) is not a preservative and will not prevent lotion spoilage.

What are preservatives?

On the other hand, preservatives will outright kill microbes and will prevent water containing products from developing bacteria and mold quickly.

If a lotion or cream contains water, aloe vera, witch hazel, or any other water-based ingredient, it needs a preservative, or it should be refrigerated and used up within a few days.

What about Grapefruit Seed Extract?

Grapefruit seed extract (Citrus grandis seed extract) is often promoted as a natural preservative against microorganisms, but it’s quite controversial. The strength varies depending on the supplier, and some sources can be adulterated with synthetic preservatives or undesirable toxic chemicals. After doing research on it a few years back, I stopped using it for my family and don’t use it in any skincare products, so can’t recommend amounts or effectiveness.

Filling Rose Cream Containers

Where to Buy Preservatives

I’ve purchased from the first three shops, and have seen the others recommended for outside of the US. Be sure to read the descriptions of preservatives on a vendor’s website, many will offer formulating guidelines that will help you use them more effectively.

What’s the shelf life of lotion made with a natural preservative?

I get this question a lot and the truth is, it’s impossible to give an exact time frame.

The shelf life of homemade lotion depends on many factors including the recipe/ingredients used, the environment it’s stored in, preservative combination, and type of container/jar it’s kept in.

In general, I expect a lotion made with my current favorite preservative (Geogard ECT) to give me at least a solid 5 to 6 month shelf life. I’ve kept some in good shape for up to 9 months, but usually use them up much sooner.

The Leucidal products are shorter lived and I’m happy with a 3 to 4 month lifespan from those.

If I make something for one of my several nurse family members/friends, and it’s critical that it stays germ free a long time, I use Liquid Germall Plus which isn’t natural at all so isn’t listed here, but is highly effective for that particular situation. You should get a 1+ year lifespan using that preservative.

The best way to find out is to make, test, experiment, and keep great records, then decide which combination works best for you and the recipes you like to use!

6 Tips to Help Homemade Lotion Last Longer

  1. Use distilled water. Tap water can contain contaminants such as metals, minerals, or bacteria.
  2. Store your DIY products in a comfortable area with even humidity and temperatures. A bathroom, with its fluctuating temperatures and humidity is not a good place to store lotions and creams.
  3. Sanitize bottles, jars, equipment by generously spraying with 70% isopropyl alcohol and allowing to air dry.
  4. Use clean hands or gloves and tie hair back.
  5. Consider using airless or pump style bottles so your fingers won’t contaminate the lotion or cream. Don’t store water based products in metal tins because they can rust and turn your lotion weird colors.
  6. Aim to keep the lotion’s pH range under 6, or in the ideal range for the preservative(s) you’re using.

I have a lot more tips, recipes, and tricks for success in my Handmade Lotions & Creams eBook Collection!

box of preservatives and a jar of homemade face cream

Comments are currently closed on this article because of the huge amount of spam comments it was receiving each day. Use this list as a starting point to explore preservatives more in depth. Shops such as Lotion Crafter and Formulator Sample Shop have quite a bit of information listed with their preservatives to help guide you further in their use.

Happy Crafting! ❤




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  1. I may be using old/simplistic reasoning, but isn’t vitamin Ea natural preservative?

    Val Colvin

    1. Hi Val, That’s a great question! I meant to add a note about vitamin E to the article, but forgot – thanks for reminding me! Vitamin E is a terrific antioxidant – it helps keep oils from going rancid too soon, but it’s not antibacterial or antifungal so it won’t keep bacteria and mold from growing in water-based products like lotions & creams.

  2. This information is so helpful! I am a student at Formula Botanica, and I have been learning about preservatives for a while now. Thank you for furthering my knowledge of preservatives. Your guide is the most helpful resource I have found! Thank you for sharing your experiences too!

    1. Hi Wendy! I’m so happy to hear that the information is helpful! Thanks for the kind words about the guide too! ❤

  3. You are the best.
    After many years trying to find a good cream to my face , one that i can aford, I have found you….
    Thanks to you I have now, a best skin ( specially my face) and hair, and just only with natural ingredients.
    You are my Guide

    1. Hi Rita, That’s wonderful to hear! Thank you so much for your kind words and I’m so very happy you’ve found the resources helpful! ❤

  4. Jan, have you experimented with Linatural which is available from Organic Creations? I’ve been using it but would love to hear if anyone else has tried it. It’s supposed to be all natural.

    1. Hi Melissa, Thanks for sharing! I haven’t experimented with that one yet; will have to put it on my shopping list!

  5. Hi Jan, I want to make a green clay facial. Do you know what the best preservative would be to use with clay?
    Thank you

    1. Hi Linda! It depends on the rest of the recipe – Does it include water or oils or is it a dry powder format?
      If you give more details, I can give a better answer. :)

  6. This was so helpful, in a way. Any idea which of these preservatives will be good for making breast milk lotion for my baby. The lotion I’ve made so far, I’ve noticed mold in it and that made me so saaaad.

    1. Hi Isioma! That’s a tricky situation for sure. Milk is very perishable in lotion, so you have to use a strong preservative and use the lotion quickly. BUT, you don’t want to use strong preservatives on babies.
      I’m not sure there’s a solution, other than making the lotion in small batches and immediately freezing it in ice cube trays, then pull one cube out at a time to thaw overnight in the fridge, use within a day or two once thawed. That’s my best guess anyway! ?

  7. When you say 2-4%, do you mean 2-4% of the total weight/mass? So like 2-4oz per 100oz of final product? Sorry if that’s a dumb question, i’m unfamiliar with this process!

    1. Hi Emily! Yes, that would be 2 to 4% of the total weight of the product.
      So if a lotion weighs 100 grams, then you would use 2 grams preservative for a 2% rate, or 4 grams preservative for a 4% rate.
      As an example using ounces:
      If a lotion weighs 8 ounces, then for a 2% rate, you would multiply the total lotion weight by 0.02 (which is the same as 2%).
      So 8 ounces x 0.02 (or 2%) = 0.16 ounces preservative.
      It’s a lot easier to calculate using grams though, instead of hard to weigh amounts of part-ounces. ?

    1. Hi June! That’s one I haven’t personally worked with, but it’s my understanding that it’s weak against mold, so if you decide to use it, consider combining it with something like AMTicide Coconut or potassium sorbate. :)

  8. Many year ago I did a aromatherapy course then a add on course to be qualified to make creams but was not told at what point to add preserves and which one can you please advice me as still not shore thanks for any help

    1. Hi Caroline, I’m happy to help!
      You usually add preservatives after the lotion has cooled down to a certain point.
      I usually wait until the lotion is under 104°F (or 40°C) because the preservatives I favor work best under those temperatures.
      If you add preservative too early in the lotion making process, then you risk deactivating the preservative with too much heat, or sometimes the lotion can curdle or misbehave if preservative is added too soon/too hot of a temperature.
      If you check the chart in this article, it has a Temp (or temperature) column and that will tell you the temperature that you want to make sure the lotion is under, before adding the preservative.
      For example, Geogard ECT says: “under 113°F (45°C)” so make sure your lotion has cooled to under 113 degrees F before you stir in the preservative.

  9. So the preservatives are by weight percent or volume percent? Have you tried colloidal silver as a preservative? I think that if you try to add something like copper peptide to something preserved with a natural substance that uses probiotic action for preserving the copper would kill it and make it less effective, so thus Im interested in silver

    1. Hi Jen! You usually calculate preservatives by weight.
      I haven’t tried colloidal silver as a preservative; I know it’s antibacterial, but not sure if it would be effective against mold?
      There is a silver based preservative designed for things like lotions & creams:
      you might want to look at. ?

  10. Hello…I make my own face packs and toners. What preservatives can I use in it to increase shelf life, however I store them in the refrigerator only or freeze the face mask in the freezer and then it lasts for months.

    1. Hi Henna! I would probably lean towards testing out Leucidal SF Complete first, (but with a disclaimer that I’m not familiar with making face packs to know all of their nuances.)
      Any of the preservatives from the list would likely be good to start experimenting with, except for Phytocide Elderberry OS, since it’s oil-soluble. Best wishes with your products – they sound great! ❤

  11. Heyy! I want to make a homemade serum (hyaluronic acid serum to be exact) and I want to add some preservative for my serum but im confused which to use because I can’t find enough information about it online, I have some in my mind which is Liquid Germall Plus and Sodium Benzoate. But is it safe and will it be effective? Thankyou in advance!

    1. Hi Ser! It depends on if you want it to be a more natural product or not. If it doesn’t need to be all-natural or organic, then Liquid Germall Plus is a good strong preservative to use all on its own. (Don’t think you’d need to also add the sodium benzoate.) For a more natural option, you could try out Geogard ECT (my personal favorite preservative at this time.) :)

  12. Hi, I’m making face masks which contain fruit, food, herbs, oils and vitamins what would be the best preservative please? I do refrigerate them.

    1. Hi JC! Those sound nice & I bet they feel wonderful on the skin! They’re going to be super perishable though – I’m not sure there’s a skincare preservative that will safely preserve the food/fruit portion very long.
      Probably keeping the masks frozen for longer term storage (thawing overnight in the fridge before using the next day), or making them fresh as you need one, and keeping it for just a day or two in the fridge would be the best bet.

  13. I wonder if pine pitch (pine resin) or creosote can be used as a preservative since they are antibacterial. How much of pine resin or creosote would you recommend to add to a lotion to use as a natural preservative?

  14. Hi. This is an amazing article. Thank you so much for the information. What would you recommend for an all-natural whipped hair butter and for beard balm (which is packed while still really hot). For the butter, I’ve been using vitamin E and it seemed to be okay for the 4 months it takes to use up the product

    1. Hi Lisa! Does the hair butter and beard balm contain water? If not, and if they are all oil/wax/butter based, then you don’t need to add a preservative.
      However, if you’d like one for extra backup, then you could use the Phytocide Elderberry OS (OS = oil soluble, which means it can be used in oil based products).
      Vitamin E is an antioxidant, which helps oils stay fresh longer, so it’s perfect to add to an oil based butter, balm, salve, etc! It won’t prevent mold/bacteria from growing though.
      It’s only when you add water that you create cozy hiding spots for bacteria & mold. :)

  15. I made a lotion with water, shea butter, coconut oil, safflower oil, and lavender. Can I freeze it in small, individual containers and take it out as needed to use? I plan to refrigerate what I’m using.

    1. Hi Tray! I’ve done that before with a couple of face creams and it works out well – at least for about two months. (I haven’t tested longer than that time period to date.)
      The ones I’ve tried have all had an emulsifier in them though, so if you notice that your lotion separates after thawing, then it may help to mix it really briskly with a fork to get it to return to former consistency.
      I would definitely give it a try and see how it goes! ?

  16. Hey Jan, I am planning on making a rice water serum with jojoba oil and aloe vera. Which preservative would you recommend and how long would the shelf life be with it?

    1. Hi Kristian, That sounds like a nice serum! If it doesn’t need to be all-natural or organic, then Liquid Germall Plus is a strong preservative with a long shelf life. If you’re aiming for a natural or organic product, then I’d try out Geogard ECT first. I really like Leucidal SF Complete too, though the shelf life is usually shorter than the Geogard ECT. You’ll have to do experiments to see how long the shelf life is for your particular product – it will vary depending on type, age, and perishability of the ingredients, how it’s stored, what type of container it’s in, etc.

  17. Do you have to add a preservative to the oil phase and the water phase separately before you combine them?

    1. Hi Rebecca! Each preservative will have specific instructions on the vendor site, but usually you stir the preservative in after the lotion/cream is made and has cooled a bit.
      A good temperature is below 104°F (40°C) since that makes the preservative less likely to curdle or cause problems.
      There are a few cases you could add preservatives separately – You could add the Phytocide Elderberry OS to the warmed oils, and dissolve Phytocide Aspen Bark Powder in the warm water phase before combining the oil phase + water phase together.
      Or sometimes I add a preservative to oil (Elderberry) or water phase (Aspen Bark), but only to boost the main preservative I’m adding after the lotion is made and cooled.
      You have some flexibility in mixing and matching preservatives, but small test batches will be helpful to dial in good amounts and combos. :)

  18. Hi I’m wondering about using Geogard ECT with things that have citric acid, for example aloe vera gels. Will it have a bad reaction on the skin?

  19. I wanted to note than vegetable glycerin makes a nice preservative. (Food grade for edibles)

    I make face masks with fruit powders, flax and rice and oats so very perishable, but very efficient and am always trying to find new preservatives.

  20. Hi Jan,
    Do each of the natural preservatives you have listed effectively preserve creams made with goat milk? Thank you for your response.

    1. Hi Elizabeth! Goat’s milk lotion/cream is super tricky to preserve, even with strong synthetic preservatives. I’ve seen some recipes using Optiphen Plus or Liquid Germall Plus with goat’s milk, but I don’t believe that the natural preservatives on this list would handle fresh milk. I’ve used goat milk powder (not fresh) before in lotion, and preserved it with Optiphen Plus and it was very nice, but the shelf life ended up at only about 3 months before it went bad.

  21. Hi Jan,
    I own several of your books (which I love) and was looking to begin making lotions so I purchased some preservatives from Formulator Sample Shop. I thought I had ordered two preservatives that would work well together: AMTicide Coconut and Leucidal Liquid SF. When I saw your list here (which I don’t think I found prior to purchase), I realized you mentioned other Leucidals (max, complete), I believe the one I purchased is not on your table. Do you have any experience with Leucidal Liquid SF or can you help me understand if it will work when paired with AMTicide Coconut? I appreciate any help.

    1. Hi Emma! Yes, Leucidal Liquid SF will work in combination with AMTicide just as you planned. I used that combo in the past, then ended up moving on to Leucidal SF Max + AMTicide, since it was supposed to be stronger than the Liquid SF. (To be honest, I didn’t see a ton of difference between the two!) I still like the combo as a mild preservative, but the shelf life of Leucidal preservatives can be pretty short, so I’ve been favoring Geogard ECT because of that. If you plan to use your lotions up within a couple of months & store them carefully (cool place, out of sun & heat), it should work out well though! Happy lotion making!

  22. Hi ! I’m trying to make a sugar scrub with essential oils, sugar, coconut oil , Shea butter and salicylic acid as well. What would be the best natural preservative to maintain my product because I know it will be exposed to water eventually .

    1. Hi Tossi! I like Phytocide Elderberry OS for scrubs and other oil based products.
      It’s oil soluble and designed just for that purpose. You can use 1 to 5% in your recipes.
      As a bonus, it also contributes skin conditioning properties!

  23. Hello,
    I notice a lot of your recipes call for rosehip seed oil. Is i possible to use a rose hip infused oil instead?

    1. Hi Chiara! You could definitely use an infused oil, but I don’t think it’s as effective as the actual rosehip oil pressed from the seeds.
      Dried/fresh rosehips infuse into water better than oil, so that’s one that I rarely infuse into oil.
      You could always use a different oil though – such as baobab, jojoba, argan, blueberry seed, moringa… oils can usually be mixed and matched in most of my recipes. ?

  24. Hi Jan,
    I found your website while searching for natural Preservatives, thank you for the clear and precise information you have given. I was wondering if the Canadian site you recommended carries all the preservatives you listed.
    What Preservatives does one use in a mostly oil based product, with aloe Vera ?
    Do you ship to Canada?
    Thank you, and looking forward to hearing from you soon.

    1. Hi Laura, I’m so glad the information on natural preservatives is helpful!
      I’m not certain on which products each site currently carries, but each one should be clickable so you can check out and see which one would meet your needs best.
      In my experience, Formulator Sample Shop & Lotion Crafter have the largest selections, so you can do more of a one-stop-shop with them.
      I believe most or probably all of the ones listed will also ship to Canada; you should be able to tell by checking their FAQS or ordering info sections.
      For an oil based product, I like the Phytocide Elderberry OS. The OS stands for oil soluble, so it’s good in oil based products such as salves, scrubs, body butters, etc.
      By adding the aloe vera though, you introduce little ‘water pockets’ where stuff could grow, so you may want to add something extra to just the aloe part too.
      It will take some experimentation, but maybe add the Elderberry OS to the oil portion, and one of the other options to the aloe. The aloe will already have its own preservatives too.

  25. Hello, I am starting a natural skin care line and was wondring if I could ask you a few questions? For Scurbs should I use Sambucus Nigra (Fruit Extract? For Toners should I use Amticide Coconut (Coconut) Fruit Extract? Also what do you recommend for a natural face wash? and for oils do you recommend Sambucus Nigra (Fruit Extract)?
    Thank You.

    1. Hi CollateralB! Phytocide Elderberry OS (Sambucus Nigra Fruit Extract) would be a great choice for scrubs and anything oil based.
      For a toner, I’d probably try Leucidal SF Complete or Liquid Complete first. Just the AMTicide might not be enough.
      It depends on what’s in your natural face wash, as far as ingredients, but many of the choices on the list would be good starting points.
      Every formulation is going to be different in its needs – it all depends on ingredients used, how it’s made, how it’s stored, etc, so you’ll have to experiment with each product you make to find the best option for it.
      If you’re going to sell products that require preservatives, then you’ll want to find a good lab that will challenge test your products, to make sure they’ll stay stable for customers over time.
      You might also want to check out a skincare formulation school such as Formula Botanica for specifics on making natural commercial products.
      Best wishes with your business! ❤

  26. Hi Laura I’m so glad I found your page couple of months ago I made my own oil but I added water to it and I did not know that it could grow any bacteria or mold and I did notice that I had a huge rash on my left side with a lot of Ichiness. Now I understand more and I can’t wait to learn about making my own products for myself.

    1. Hi Leslie, That’s a great question! I’m not familiar with the process, so I’m just not sure of a good answer for you.
      I have used willow bark extract in lotions for those with acne before and it’s a really nice product.

  27. Thank you so much for this! I am learning so much. I have been making my son’s diaper cream which was considered anhydrous until I added drops of plantain and chickweed extract as well as calendula extract. I would say it is 1% total (about 30 drops total in 2oz) Do you think I still need a broad spectrum preservative for this even though I am not using water? I believe the extracts have water but do not need refrigeration. I really don’t want to use one for his products. Thanks so much for your help!!

    1. Hi Priscilla, That sounds like a great diaper cream! Some extracts are available that are oil based, so those would be perfectly fine to use.
      The water based ones will eventually separate out (‘bead out’) of the cream & even though they’re in such a low amount, they could eventually cause problems.
      Many of the water based ones already do have a preservative in them though – if you link up the kind you’re using, I can take a look at them & give you a more informed answer. :)
      What I’d personally do for my own kids (my son was ULTRA sensitive & I didn’t want to use anything ‘chemical-ly’ on him either – so can 100% relate with you!) is infuse the anhydrous cream with dried plantain, chickweed, and/or calendula & skip the purchased extracts.
      You could either just infuse the oil – such as in this calendula oil & salve recipe: https://thenerdyfarmwife.com/calendula-oil-salve/
      or if the recipe is like whipped butter, then you could infuse the whole thing. (Melt it over low heat with the herbs, let it gently heat an additional 20-ish minutes before straining, chilling, and whipping.)

      1. I’m going to try your infusions idea! Thank you. I have herb extracts from “Herb Pharm” for Calendula and Plantain and “Nature’s Answer” for Chickweed. Maybe you’re familiar with these brands? One says it is made in alcohol? Thank you SO much for the prompt reply :)

        1. Hi Priscilla! Those are both great brands to use! However, those extracts are alcohol based, which can be harsh/stinging on someone’s skin – especially if it’s sensitive.
          Herb Pharm does have a calendula oil though that would be lovely in your recipe: https://www.herb-pharm.com/product/calendula-oil/
          Otherwise, I’d definitely do the at-home oil infusion thing & save the alcohol extracts for medicinal uses for older ages. :)
          (With the caveat of avoiding internal use of calendula for anyone who is pregnant or wanting to get pregnant.)
          All of those extracts/tinctures could also be used for things like cat scratches, or diluted in water for a bath (a few droppers per bath).

          1. Hy Jan
            I want to start my skincare production buh I’m confused on the preservative to use…in my soaps i use essential oil,carrier oils,some natural powders.then in my creams i use essential oils and carrier oils, my sugar scrubs are oil based too buh i don’t kno the preservative for it…is it ok if i use propylene glycol in the soaps and creams? …thank you for listening

            1. Hi Miriam! You don’t need to use preservatives in bar soap – the high pH keeps it self-preserved. For lotions & creams, you have many options, but the first one of this list (Geogard ECT) is my favorite, followed by the second option (Leucidal SF Complete) which is also nice, but not as strong or long lasting. Phytocide Elderberry OS is a good natural option for sugar scrubs that are oil based. For all of them, you’ll want to test, test, test and experiment with amounts used and packaging to be sure you’re selling a safe product with a good shelf life.

              I’m not sure of the specifics of using propylene glycol in soaps and creams – it’s not an ingredient I work with since it’s not normally used in natural products. If you want a natural product line, then your customers probably would prefer not to see it on an ingredient list. However, if you’re not aiming for all natural products though, and do include propylene glycol, then I would go ahead and make the jump to stronger preservatives, such as Optiphen Plus or Liquid Germall Plus. They’re not considered natural, but are stronger than the natural options listed here & customers who are okay with propylene glycol usually don’t have a problem with them either. Good luck with your endeavors! ❤

  28. Hi Jan – I’m making a body butter with Aloe, Shea butter, and a mixture of oils, what is the best preservative to use?

    1. Hi Caroline! Any from the list above could work in a body butter made with water-based ingredients; some will be stronger than others. (If the list suggests combining with another preservative, it’s not very strong on its own.)
      When testing a new recipe + preservative, I pick one I think would be best (usually Geogard ECT – my current favorite) and see how it goes! From there, you can test, observe, and tweak. :)

  29. Hi Jan,
    We are in the early stages of making whipped body butter for the first time with a mixture of oils, essential oils, cocoa butter, other butters as well, arrowroot powder, including vegetable glycerin among other organic ingredients and I was wondering if I should add preservatives and if so which one would you suggest? We are planning to sell these so we want to make sure we can mix in preservatives with vegetable glycerin along with other ingredients in the mix and potentially have a longer shelf life if possible. Would we need to add an expiration date on the jar as well?

    1. Hi Michelle! Since you’re adding glycerin (which counts as a water based ingredient) to the mix and you plan on selling, then I would definitely add a preservative in.
      You might want to consider an oil based preservative (the elderberry OS) in the oils portion, plus a water based one in the glycerin portion.
      It will take a lot of experiments and testing to get the right preservatives, and ratio of them, for your unique recipe. Once you’ve tested and tweaked your recipe to perfection, then you can send it to a cosmetic lab for testing and that will give you a better idea for expiration date.
      Good luck with your sales! ❤

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