Cosmetics with high water content are at a risk of being contaminated by micro-organisms that can alter the composition of the product or pose a health risk to the consumer. Pathogenic micro-organisms such as Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa are frequently found in contaminated cosmetics. In order to avoid contamination of cosmetics, the manufacturers add preservatives to their products. In the EU and the USA, cosmetics are under legislation and all preservatives must be safety evaluated by committees. There are several different preservatives available but the cosmetic market is dominated by a few preservatives: parabens, formaldehyde, formaldehyde releasers, and methylchloroisothiazolinone/methylisothiazolinone. Allergy to preservatives is one of the main reasons for contact eczema caused by cosmetics. Concentration of the same preservative in similar products varies greatly, and this may indicate that some cosmetic products are over preserved. As development and elicitation of contact allergy is dose dependent, over preservation of cosmetics potentially leads to increased incidences of contact allergy. Very few studies have investigated the antimicrobial efficiency of preservatives in cosmetics, but the results indicate that efficient preservation is obtainable with concentrations well below the maximum allowed.
Keywords: Allergens; Cosmetics; Dermatitis, Allergic Contact; Drug Contamination; Environmental Exposure; Environmental Monitoring; European Union; Formaldehyde; Humans; Malondialdehyde; Parabens; Preservatives, Pharmaceutical; United States