What are Preservatives?
A preservative is an ingredient that is added to products such as foods, pharmaceuticals, personal care products (including cosmetics), and many other products to help keep us safe by reducing the ability of bacteria, yeast, or mold to grow. Preservatives can be synthetic or natural, and some plants and fruits naturally contain preservatives identical to those used in cosmetics and personal care products.
Why are Preservatives used in our products?
Just like food, preservatives help to keep our products fresh and safe. Without preservatives, any product that has just enough water in them to support the growth of bacteria, yeast, or mold, can become contaminated with the bacteria, yeast or mold found in your everyday environment. That includes most moist wipes, hand soaps, lotions and shampoos.
How much preservatives do you add?
Preservatives are added at low levels to ensure that the product doesn’t become contaminated over the time it takes the consumer to finish the product. Every preservative that we use must follow our safety evaluation process for approval and comply with local regulatory requirements.
To make it easier to help you decide which products are right for your family, we share the ingredients used in our products.
Questions about certain preservatives:
We understand that there are concerns about preservatives and therefore we offer many products that are not formulated with the following preservatives:
Parabens are derived from para-hydroxybenzoic acid (PHBA), which occurs naturally in many fruits and vegetables, such as cloudberry, vanilla, cucumbers, cherries, carrots, blueberries and onions. PHBA is also formed naturally in the human body by the breakdown of some amino acids. The most commonly used parabens in cosmetics are methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, and butylparaben.
Parabens are used as preservative in cosmetic, personal hygiene products, food products and pharmaceuticals. Parabens are highly effective in preventing the growth of harmful fungi, bacteria and yeast, thereby protecting both products and consumers. Thus, they contribute directly to the quality of the products by extending their shelf life.
The safety of parabens has been demonstrated by regulatory authorities of many countries and regions such as Europe’s Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety, US Food and Drug Administration and US Cosmetic Ingredient Review Panel (CIR). Based on the existing scientific evidence, parabens are entirely safe when used within established safety levels.
We abide by these regulations, and use ethyl paraben and methylparaben at very low levels (in line with EU and US regulations) only in surface cleaning and professional-sector formulated products. We do not use butylparaben, isobutylparaben, isopropylparaben and propylparaben in our products.
For more information see: Parabens | Cosmetic Info
Methylisothiazolinone (MIT) and Methylchloroisothiazolinone (MCI) are preservatives used in a wide array of cosmetics, personal care products and cleaning products. Their function is to inhibit the growth of bacteria on their own, but they are most commonly used as a mixture in various rinse-off formulated products including hair products, shampoos, and hand wash products. Concerns have been raised about skin sensitivity to MIT in certain leave-on cosmetics.
The safety of MIT and MCI has been demonstrated by regulatory authorities of many countries and regions such as Europe’s Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety and the US Cosmetic Ingredient Review Panel (CIR). Based on the existing scientific evidence, MIT and MCI are safe when used within established safety levels.
Kimberly-Clark does not use MIT alone in our formulated products and use MIT/MCI combinations at very low levels (in line with established safety and regulatory limits) only in surface cleaning and professional-sector formulated products.
For more information see: Methylchloroisothiazolinone and Methylisothiazolinone | Cosmetics Info
Formaldehyde donors are preservatives that deliver a small amount of formaldehyde throughout a product's shelf-life. They protect the cosmetics and personal care products against the growth of microorganisms during storage and, most importantly, during use by consumers. A number of preservatives fall under this category, such as DMDM hydantoin, Imidazolidinyl urea, Quaternium-15, and Sodium Hydroxymethylglycinate.
Formaldehyde donors are widely used in personal care products around the world and are considered safe by Europe’s Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (SCCS) and US Cosmetic Ingredient Review Panel (CIR) at the current levels used in cosmetics and personal care products.
Kimberly-Clark uses formaldehyde donating preservatives only in surface cleaning and professional-sector formulated products. Although they would be safe to use we do not use formaldehyde donors in our baby care products.
For more information see: Formaldehyde and Formaldehyde -Releasing Preservative | Cosmetics Info
Phenoxyethanol is used in cosmetics as a preservative and as a fixative for perfumes. It has excellent activity against a wide range of bacteria, yeast and mold. It is also a natural component of green tea.
When used as a preservative, Phenoxyethanol is considered safe at appropriate concentrations by various regulatory authorities (e.g., Europe’s Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety, US Food and Drug Administration and US Cosmetic Ingredient Review Panel). We abide by these applicable regulations to limit usage within the permitted levels, and we offer many products that are not formulated with this preservative, including within our baby/child wipes products.
For more information see: Phenoxyethanol | Cosmetics Info
Triclosan is an antimicrobial agent that has been used for more than 40 years as an antiseptic, disinfectant, preservative or deodorant agent in in various consumer products. Kimberly-Clark does not use triclosan in our products. However, it has been determined by regulatory authorities in many countries to be safe for consumer use.
It has been widely used in personal health care products such as hand washes, body washes, mouthwashes, toothpastes, soaps, body washes, deodorants, shaving creams, plastics and textiles. Triclosan has also been used in materials or objects which are often exposed to excessive bacteria, such as athletic wear, socks, cutting boards, kitchen utensils, children’s toys, bedding, clothes, fabrics and trash bags.
For more information see: Triclosan | Cosmetics Info and US FDA: 5 Things to Know About Triclosan