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The beauty breakthrough that keeps your products healthier for longer

By August 29, 2020No Comments

An innovative skincare brand with Irish roots (which has recently launched into Selfridges in London) has just had a patent approved which will change the way skincare is preserved. We speak to their scientists about how that was achieved…


Pretty much every cosmetic or skincare product on your shelf will contain a preservative of some kind. Whether that’s a naturally-derived one or a paraben, products will ‘go off’ incredibly quickly without them. 

Preservatives in cosmetics are used to prevent bacterial and microbial growth, but synthetic versions can have negative long-term health effects, and studies have shown the harmful effects of exposure to ingredients like parabens and formaldehyde-releasing preservatives.

Codex Beauty, an international skincare brand with Irish roots, has just had an innovation patented in the US, under a year after it was first submitted. Their patent relates to a novel preservation system, based on an association of naturally derived ferment-, and salt-based ingredients which, in combination, provide broad-spectrum preservation of topically applied products. 

This innovative preservation system, called PreservX, is not only considered “food-grade”, but is technically edible as well. Although we don’t recommend trying to eat your skincare, it’s somewhat encouraging to know that you could.

“We are delighted that the U.S. Patent and Trademark office has acknowledged this innovation by granting the patent in under a year from first submission,” stated Marc Cornell, cosmetic consultant and one of the named inventors.

To clear up any preservative confusion, we asked Codex’s scientific advisor, Marc Connell, and business advisor, Steve Trzaska to answer the most asked questions when it comes to preservatives in skincare.

Let’s start simple: Why do beauty products need preservatives?

“In short, to prevent microbiological growth. Products that contain water are especially vulnerable to microorganisms, such as bacteria, molds and yeasts, that can ruin a product. And so, a broad-spectrum preservative, one that’s effective against a full range of microorganisms, is absolutely essential.”

What kinds do you find in most conventional beauty products?

“Parabens are commonly used in conventional products, but studies have raised concerns about their potential negative health consequences—parabens have been shown to exhibit estrogenic activity that may be linked to tumour growth, for example. Another popular class of preservatives is formaldehyde releasers—such as quaternium-15, hydantoin and various types of urea. These preservatives release formaldehyde into a product, thereby preserving it. Unfortunately, not only is formaldehyde a known carcinogen, it also has a tendency to cause skin irritation.” 

So, what do most natural beauty products rely on then?

“Often weak acids, such as salicylic, benzoic, sorbic and levulinic, which are considered natural alternatives although they are often made synthetically. Alcohols like benzyl alcohol are effective but can be sensitising, and phenoxyethanol is prevalent in natural skincare, despite it being a synthetic material.”

How is Codex pioneering a new system of preservatives?

“At Codex we pushed ourselves to create a natural, organic Ecocert preservative system that would work for even the most sensitive skin types while also effectively preserving our products. We trialled numerous blends of various plant-based acids, fermented extracts, essential oil extracts and more until we developed the perfect, pure and natural broad-spectrum blend now known as the PreservX system.”

CEO of Codex, Barbara Paldus, said that the new development will make skincare safer in many ways, not just for when it’s topically applied, but also if there are any smallies who might look at their parents’ face cream and decide it’s too tasty looking to ignore.

“We believe that PreservX is a breakthrough in the domain of beauty product preservation, as it is not based on any fossil-fuel derived ingredients and all of its constituents are edible. We believe that this provides a new level of sustainable safety for skincare, especially for products geared towards babies and young children, who can accidentally ingest skincare products through nursing or sucking their hands. We are excited to share this platform with the beauty industry,” says Paldus.

Photo by Content Pixie on Unsplash