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Rating Ingredient
Good

1, 2-Hexanediol

A preservative belonging to a class of agents known as higher molecular glycols.

Categories: Preservatives
Poor

borate

Group of compounds used in cosmetics in small quantities primarily as pH adjusters (they have a pH...

Categories: Preservatives
Poor

borax

Also known as sodium borate decahydrate, borax is a mineral composed of sodium, boron, oxygen, and...

Categories: Preservatives
Good

boric acid

May have skin soothing and restoring benefits…

Categories: Preservatives
Poor

bronopol

Technical name 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol, a formaldehyde-releasing preservative (Source:...

Categories: Preservatives
Good

butylparaben

Parabens are a group of controversial preservatives that include butylparaben...

Categories: Preservatives
Good

benzoic acid

Preservative used in skincare products; it is considered less sensitizing than some other forms of...

Categories: Preservatives
Good

benzothonium chloride

Compound used as a preservative in cosmetics. It is generally considered less sensitizing…

Categories: Preservatives
Good

benzyl alcohol

An organic alcohol that occurs naturally in some fruits (apricots, cranberries) and teas.

Categories: Preservatives
Good

caprylyl glycol

Skin and hair conditioning agent that may be plant-derived or synthetic. Often used as part of a...

Average

DMDM hydantoin

Formaldehyde-releasing preservative...

Categories: Preservatives
Good

ethylhexylglycerin

A synthetic skin-conditioning agent used as a preservative or as a carrier or suspending agent for...

Good

ethylparaben

Parabens are a group of controversial preservatives that include butylparaben...

Categories: Preservatives
Good

chlorophene

Used as a preservative in cosmetics.

Categories: Preservatives
Good

chloroxylenol

Chemical compound used as a preservative and cleansing agent due to its action...

Categories: Preservatives
Good

chlorphenesin

Type of alcohol used as a preservative in cosmetics...

Categories: Preservatives
Good

dehydroacetic acid

A synthetic preservative uses in amounts of 0.6% or less. Sometimes its salt form (known as sodium...

Categories: Preservatives
Average

diazolidinyl urea

Water-soluble preservative.

Categories: Preservatives
Average

formaldehyde-releasing preservative

Common type of preservative found in cosmetics...

Categories: Preservatives
Good

Germaben II

Trade name for diazolidinyl urea.

Categories: Preservatives
Good

isobutylparaben

Parabens are a group of controversial preservatives that include butylparaben...

Categories: Preservatives
Poor

Kathon CG

Categories: Preservatives, Sensitizing
Best

hoelen

A mushroom that grows underground on the roots of pines and other trees around the world. It has...

Average

imidazolidinyl urea

Considered a weaker preservative than its "cousin" diazolidinyl urea because it is beneficial against...

Categories: Preservatives
Good

iodopropynyl butylcarbamate

A synthetic preservative that is typically used in concentrations of 0.1% or less. It is very...

Categories: Preservatives
Good

phenoxyethanol

Common cosmetic preservative that is considered one of the less sensitizing ones to use in...

Categories: Preservatives
Good

phenoxyisopropanol

Alcohol used as a solvent and preservative. 

Categories: Preservatives
Best

phytosphingosine

Long-chain, complex fatty alcohol that functions as a water-binding agent and also has preservative...

Poor

methylchloroisothiazolinone

In combination with methylisothiazolinone, it goes by the trade name Kathon CG (among others)....

Categories: Preservatives, Sensitizing
Poor

methyldibromo glutaronitrile

Formaldehyde-releasing preservative...

Categories: Preservatives
Poor

methylisothiazolinone

Preservative that’s generally recommended for use only in rinse-off products such as cleansers or...

Categories: Preservatives, Sensitizing
Good

methylparaben

Parabens are a group of controversial preservatives that include butylparaben...

Categories: Preservatives
Good

o-cymen-5-ol

Preservative used in cosmetics.

Categories: Preservatives
Good

parabens

Group of preservatives, including butylparaben, propylparaben, methylparaben, and ethylparaben,...

Categories: Preservatives
Good

polyaminopropyl biguanide

Synthetic polymer that functions as a preservative.

Categories: Preservatives
Good

potassium sorbate

Used as a preservative, almost always used in conjunction with other preservatives.

Categories: Preservatives
Good

preservatives

Substances used in cosmetics to help defend against contamination of products...

Categories: Preservatives
Good

propylparaben

Parabens are a group of controversial preservatives that include butylparaben...

Categories: Preservatives
Average

quaternium-15

Formaldehyde-releasing preservative used in cosmetics. It can be a skin sensitizer, as can all...

Categories: Preservatives
Good

sodium dehydroacetate

Organic salt used as a preservative.

Categories: Preservatives
Good

sodium hexametaphosphate

Salt with multiple functions in cosmetics. It can act as a detergent, an emulsifier, a texturizer,...

Good

sodium hydroxymethylglycinate

Derived from amino acids and used as a skin- and hair-softening agent, and to a lesser extent as...

Categories: Preservatives, Hydration
Average

sodium lactobionate

White, crystalline powder used to synthesize other chemicals. May function as a preservative in...

Categories: Preservatives
Average

sodium metabisulfite

Reducing agent that alters the structure of hair. It can also be used as a preservative in...

Average

sodium sulfite

Reducing agent that alters the structure of hair. It can also be used as a preservative in cosmetic...

Categories: Preservatives, Sensitizing
Good

sorbic acid

Preservative derived from mountain ash berries or manufactured synthetically. Sorbic acid is used...

Categories: Preservatives
Poor

styrax benzoin

Categories: Preservatives
Good

sodium benzoate

Salt of benzoic acid used as a preservative.

Categories: Preservatives
Good

sodium citrate

Used primarily to control the pH level of a product, this ingredient also has antioxidant and...

Poor

zinc sulfate

Chemical compound resulting from the interaction of zinc with sulfuric acid. There is little...

Categories: Preservatives, Sensitizing

About the Experts

Paula Begoun is the best-selling author of 20 books about skincare and makeup. She is known worldwide as The Cosmetics Cop and creator of Paula’s Choice Skincare. Paula’s expertise has led to hundreds of appearances on national and international radio, print, and television including:

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The Paula's Choice Research Team is dedicated to busting beauty myths and providing expert advice that solves your skincare frustrations so you can have the best skin of your life!