Potassium Sorbate is used as a mild preservative in cosmetics or beauty products and in foods. Preservatives are needed in almost all types of packaged and processed foods to ensure a predetermined or desirable shelf life. The same reason makes such preservatives almost unavoidable in cosmetics, including natural skin care products. The compound is derived from Sorbic Acid and is a substitute for parabens, which are widely used in cosmetics and especially hair care products but have also been considered to be harmful for the hair and scalp. There are a few specific reasons why this preservative is used. It has strong antimicrobial properties. It can prevent the growth of mold, fungi, yeast and bacteria. The protection against bacteria is a tad weaker than other microbes but given the origins of the compound in the mountain ash tree, it is a desirable preservative compared with chemicals.
Mountain ash tree has berries that are rich in Sorbic Acid. These berries are the primary source of Potassium Sorbate. How pure and unrefined or processed the preservative is in a particular cosmetic or natural skin care product depends entirely on the manufacturer. The preservative is typically used with a few other preservatives and additives for holistic protection against microbial growth. You would find this preservative in facial creams, hair care products including styling gels and eye care products. It should be noted that this is a mild preservative which is why many companies use it in packaged and processed foods.
Potassium Sorbate is approved by the FDA and CIR. Both have inferred it is nontoxic. However, there is some debate as to whether or not the preservative should be used in foods. Today, it is widely used in canned vegetables, cheese and baked goods. This is not healthy for any and sundry, especially those who are allergic to potassium. The affordability of the preservative and the fact that it is a substitute for parabens made it popular around the world. The preservative is also used in winemaking. It helps the wine retain the flavor during fermentation. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that sodas, soft drinks and juices also contain the preservative.
The preservative in shampoos, creams and hair sprays among other cosmetics or organic skin care products doesn’t pose much of a threat as long as only a tiny quantity is used and in mild concentration. Excessive use could cause some redness but that too for those who are allergic to potassium.