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May 15, 2021 2 min read

We’ve all seen them. Those wonderful sounding recipes to make our skin look and feel it’s best. And when it comes to our face, we tend to take the most care in putting things on it. So, when I was recently tagged in a Facebook group to answer this question, I had a lot to say. “What’s a good preservative to use for making DIY face mask recipes?”

I know, I know… preservatives sound like horrible things, but they really aren’t. Especially if we consider the dose. They are heavily tested for efficacy and safety purposes so that scientific cosmetic formulators are able to use them appropriately and safely for you and me. And realistically, if you’re making anything with water-based ingredients, youneed to use a preservative or be prepared for the science project you’ll be dosing yourself with topically.

Water breeds life. Safely used and appropriate preservation systems can prevent “life” (the nasties) from growing in your DIY. Ask me how I know...

So, what’s a good preservative? 

Honestly? There isn’t a one size fits all here. There just isn’t. And there’s several reasons why. But here’s a few really important ones.

Preservation systems each have their own set of requirements for pH. 

Because each specific preservative has a narrow degree of efficiency for their designated pH, adding a random preservative can actually be pointless. If the pH in your DIY is higher or lower than the recommended use when adding it, it will be completely ineffective and… the nastieswill grow.

Certain preservatives work best when used with specific ingredients or have specific temperature requirements in order to be effective for example.

For example, in my unscented lotion base, I must add the preservative when the solution is at an extremely specific temperature window. Any higher or lower than that specified window and…. You guessed it; the preservative will be rendered ineffective. And each preservative is quite specific regarding that.

There are certain preservatives that require other ingredients to remain effective as I mentioned. Without those additional ingredients to help in stabilizing the formulation, over a short period of time the preservative can stop working and… the nastieswill grow.

You should also consider that the amount of preservative you will need is based on the actual weight of the ingredients that you use. And unfortunately, a lot of DIY recipes that have water/water-based ingredients are not shared by weight. This creates a large problem for determining how much of any preservative to use.

Preservation systems can be quite tricky for the home user, so unless you would like to take a course to gain more knowledge, I would consider buying a product that is professionally formulated for your safety. It ends up also saving you time and money in most cases!

Many companies make dry face masks you can use at home. So if you'd like to use a therapeutic hydrosol, you simply take the small amount of dry mask mixture and add your hydrosol to it. In fact, I wrote a blog on just how to do that here.