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Natural preservatives - you can also do without alcohol

Cosmetics without preservatives? This is only possible with waterless products or if you always mix your cream freshly. But that takes a lot of time – and that is usually in short supply. ⁠Natural creams that you can buy in the store usually contain alcohol as a preservative. However, we don't think that's such a good idea and show that there is another way.

Natural cosmetics without alcohol | Five Skincare

Photo by Christin Hume on Unsplash

Freshness in the jar – why cosmetics need preservatives

Nothing lasts forever, not even cosmetics, no matter how valuable they are. It is made up of fats and liquids that deteriorate over time, just like in food. In the EU, cosmetic products have to pass a number of tests before they can be placed on the market. For example, the germ load test is used to check whether a product is sufficiently preserved. If not, it must be readjusted.

No artificial preservatives

FIVE products are also formulated to last. What natural cosmetics, including ours, are only too happy to do without are synthetic preservatives . Because they are often suspected of having a hormonal effect and causing allergies.

There are several natural ways of preserving that are just as effective. It is important that they are effective against a wide range of germs and at the same time are as well tolerated as possible. Alcohol or spirits are popular because they do not trigger allergies. However, preservative alcohol has a drying effect and irritates sensitive skin. That is why it is criticized and is particularly unsuitable for sensitive skin. What are the alternatives?

☝️ On the INCI list, preservative alcohol is hidden under the headings Alcohol, Alcohol denat. or ethanol.

Preservation, but of course!

Artificial preservatives are a definite no-go for natural beauties like us. 😉 Fortunately, effective preservatives can also be obtained from nature. But they differ in their effectiveness. And not all work against every kind of corruption. Here is a brief overview of which ingredients or groups of substances conserve and how.

preservative oils

Oils and fats become rancid. In concrete terms, this means that they spoil through oxidation when their components react with oxygen from the air. The so-called oxidation stability differs greatly from substance to substance. Oils that have a high stability, such as jojoba oil , can therefore have a preservative effect on other fats.


These radical scavengers, which prevent oxidation damage, are also used to preserve fats. They are often contained in the natural plant pigments such as carotenes, which not only color carrots so brightly orange. Vitamins also act as antioxidants, above all vitamin E , which is also listed as tocopherol in the list of ingredients.


They are probably the most commonly used preservative in natural cosmetics. Alcohol does not trigger allergic reactions . And it protects against a whole range of germs with a broad spectrum effect by depriving them of their basis of life. It works like the rum pot: fruit plus lots of rotation lasts a long, long time.

Essential Oils

They contain the concentrated power of the plant from which they are obtained. Essential oils with antibacterial and/or antimicrobial properties prevent germs from thriving in the product. They are also popular for blending preservative alcohol. It becomes inedible and there are less taxes on it. In fact, you usually find essential oils in combination with another preservative, because otherwise they would have to be present in very high concentrations.


You also know them from the kitchen as particularly durable. For example as breakfast yoghurt or sauerkraut, where lactic acid bacteria ferment and acidify the mass. This effectively inhibits germs and bacteria. In addition, ferments bring a whole range of useful properties. And don't worry: the whole thing is also vegan!

☝️ In order to minimize the need for preservation, FIVE relies on waterless formulations, among other things, because water contaminates particularly quickly.

Also read the popular blog article: Why water should not be part of, but part of, care .

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Proper storage of cosmetics

Cosmetics should be stored in a cool and dark place . But before you clear a compartment in the fridge for them: Of course they don't need arctic cold in the eternal, deep black night. Unless otherwise stated, you can simply store them in the bathroom at room temperature.

Far more important is careful handling of the content. Because spoilage means 1.) oxidation and 2.) contamination. Both are favored as soon as you open the jar. This lets air, ergo oxygen, in. And when removing, bacteria etc. can get into the product.

This keeps your cosmetics fresh for longer

  1. Only open the jar as briefly as necessary! Once removed, don't leave it uncovered for minutes while you continue to get ready.
  2. Always remove the product with freshly washed fingers – or even better – with a clean spatula .
  3. Place the jars and bottles where they will be out of direct sunlight .

☝️ The FIVE products are not only available in blue glass because of the chic look. The color protects light-sensitive ingredients such as valuable, cold-pressed vegetable oils much better than transparent glass.

How long do cosmetics last?

Some people like to buy in advance. Having strained tomatoes and pasta around the house is never a bad idea. But what about cosmetics? The extra tube of hand cream, for example, if you don't know which bag the last one got lost in, no matter how hard you try.

There are two types of shelf life information for cosmetics. If your product doesn't have a date stamp on it, but instead an open jar symbol with a number inside, it means the following: the product has a shelf life of 30 months unopened (this is what the EU Cosmetics Regulation stipulates) and the stated number of months once opened . For example, if there is a 6 in the jar, you should use it up in 6 months.

Variant two is a printed best before date with day, month and year as with food. In this case, that indicates the shelf life when closed. It is usually followed by an indication of how quickly it can be used up after opening.

Alcohol in skin care

At a cocktail evening with the girls, the Virgin Cocktail is perhaps more of an emergency solution for drivers. In cosmetics, however, the alcohol-free variant is always the first choice. Because - it's no secret - alcohol has a drying effect .

We have to make a brief distinction: There are greasy alcohols that have a caring effect and alcohols that evaporate quickly and dry out as a result. These are the very ones used as preservatives because they are effective at killing germs.

Why is alcohol so popular in natural cosmetics anyway?

Alcohol is one of the most popular preservatives in natural cosmetics. And we don't want to deny some advantages. Manufacturers avoid parabens because they are suspected of having hormonal effects. Essential oils are problematic for allergy sufferers if they react to the plant in question. Alcohol is hypoallergenic and has no deeper effects on your body.

Alcohol is also popular because it feels so light when applied. It gives volume in the crucible, but evaporates quickly in air. That's why it feels as if the cream is being absorbed particularly easily. However, this also has its downside...

The disadvantages of alcohol

A study [1] shows that alcohol, even in small doses, liquefies the lipid structure of the skin. This allows the alcohol to smuggle other active ingredients into the deeper layers of the skin. However, this also means that alcohol lowers the moisture content of the skin because water escapes more easily [2] .

The researchers also found that alcohol, even in moderate concentrations, depletes lipids in the skin. And these fats are part of the basic recipe for an intact skin barrier.

Ergo: alcohol throws the moisture balance and the natural protective layer of the skin out of balance and therefore has a drying and irritating effect. After all, your cream should moisturize your skin and support its protective function. If it contains alcohol, however, it can have the exact opposite effect.

If your skin tends to be oily, you're probably enjoying the temporary feeling of lightness. In the long run, however, your skin becomes even more greasy to compensate for its losses. And with sensitive skin, the reaction is often not long in coming. She'll let you know right away that she's feeling irritated. That's why at FIVE we prefer to use more gentle preservatives with an additional effect instead of alcohol!

Ferment from lactic acid bacteria - and please vegan

For the new FIVE moisturizing serum , we rely on a ferment made from lactic acid bacteria. Like all our ingredients, this is naturally vegan . Because lactic acid bacteria are – here the name is misleading – not only in milk. These bacteria also ferment sauerkraut, for example.

And since we love snagging multiple flies like the brave little tailor, preservation isn't the ferment's only specialty. It also significantly improves skin moisture . At the same time, it has an antimicrobial effect and is gentle on the skin. Since it consists of fairly large molecules, it remains on the skin's surface and, unlike alcohol, does not affect the skin's structure. The ferment from lactic acid bacteria is…

  • 100% natural and biodegradable,
  • free of lactose and gluten,
  • free of genetic engineering,
  • 100% vegan and cruelty free.
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