More than 90 percent of Lush products are self-preserving, which means they don’t require any synthetic preservatives to stay fresh.
Synthetic preservatives are used widely in food and cosmetics to extend their shelf life and prevent bacteria from growing. Different preservatives have unique methods of battling bacteria. For example, preservatives like methylparaben punch holes in bacterial cell walls or membranes, which prevents bacteria from reproducing. Others like benzyl alcohol (which can also occur naturally in essential oils), prevent microbes from forming cell walls and also prevents reproduction.
Synthetic preservatives are effective at what they do, but when they’re washed down our drains, they enter waterways where they accumulate and may have toxic effects over time. For this reason, our inventors have been creating cosmetics for decades that don’t require synthetic preservatives—every one of our solid inventions like shampoo bars, bubble bars and solid conditioners are self-preserving. Because bacteria need water to survive and grow, these innovative solid products are formulated with little or no water and are perfectly balanced without synthetic preservatives.
Recently, we’ve created even more self-preserving options, and they’re no longer limited to just solid items. The work behind creating these products is meticulous. It’s taken hours of experimentation and dozens of test products to find a way to combine ingredients to create an environment that inhibits bacterial growth without using synthetic preservatives.
One way we’re creating self-preserving products is by using natural ingredients that keep bacteria at bay in our liquid products. We add salt, which is alkaline (meaning it has a pH greater than 7), to some products because bacteria can only survive in acidic conditions (those with a pH lower than 7). We also use ingredients like clay, calamine and talc to absorb excess water, and glycerin and honey, which have very low water content to create an inhospitable environment for bacteria. All these ingredients allow us to use less water in our formulas. Moisturizing butters like cocoa, shea and murumuru have a self-preserving effect too, because they’re solid at room temperature, creating a difficult setting for bacteria to flourish in.
These products are called self-preserving because their formulas have been expertly balanced in a way that the ingredients themselves keep the product clean of excess bacteria growth. Calling them preservative-free would be misleading, as many of these products contain ingredients like honey and salt, which have been used as natural preservatives for centuries!
Preserved or self-preserving?
Although many of our products have always been self-preserving, some of our best sellers are now available in both preserved and self-preserving formulations. These include Ocean Salt Face And Body Scrub, Dream Cream Hand And Body Lotion and Mask Of Magnaminty Face And Body Mask. So what’s the difference between the preserved and self-preserved versions?
Aside from the fact that they don’t contain any synthetic preservatives, our self-preserving formulas tend to look slightly different from the preserved formulations: they’re usually a little darker in color, have a thicker consistency and feel a little different. However, their shelf life and the effect they have on the skin is exactly the same as their counterparts.
Thanks to the reduced water content, our self-preserving formulas have a richer texture and tend to feel more concentrated, so you’ll love them if you like more moisturizing products. In every other respect, the preserved and self-preserving formulas for Dream Cream and Mask of Magnaminty are exactly the same—but not Ocean Salt Face And Body Scrub! As an added bonus, the self-preserving Ocean Salt is also vegan because we’ve removed the lanolin and synthetic emulsifiers, and replaced them with tofu and Japan wax.