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The Secret Life of Plant Preservatives

The Secret Life of Plant Preservatives

Get a closer look inside Codex’s new plant-based preservative system, with our scientific advisor, Marc Connell, and business advisor, Steve Trzaska.  This is why our products are exceptionally pure—and safe—for your skin.


What exactly is in Codex’s preservative system? Why is it so innovative? 

“Our proprietary, patent-pending preservative system is based on a blend of probiotics created by the fermentation of Lactobacillus—a species of microorganisms used to ferment foods, such as sauerkraut and kimchi. And like many other members of the lactic acid bacteria family, it can restrict the growth of other microorganisms by making its environment acidic. It also produces antimicrobial peptides, called bacteriocins, that provide broad-spectrum protection.

We further enhanced the antimicrobial system with coconut oil, which has natural antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral properties. Its medium-chain triglycerides, such as lauric acid, disrupt the cellular structures of fungus and help moisturize skin.

Next, we added potassium sorbate, a well-known, mild preservative often used in the food industry. It is the potassium salt of sorbic acid, which is isolated from rowan berries, and offers good protection against yeast and molds.

And finally, we included a pure and plant-based, petroleum-free propanediol, which allows us to reduce the amount of other preservatives used in the formulation. It also imparts humectant benefits that help skin to retain moisture and has an excellent skin feel. It’s derived from a sustainable, renewable corn fermentation processes.”


Is this powerful, but gentle-on-skin, system used in all Codex products?

“Not all our products contain water and so these anhydrous products do not require preservatives. Instead, we rely on effective antioxidants to prevent oils and butters from going rancid. We ensure that all of the botanical oils we use in our products are stabilized with an antioxidant such as vitamin E. Additionally, we use both vitamin E and a special rosemary antioxidant ingredient in our water-free, anhydrous products.

We also take into consideration that some water-free products, however, will come into contact with water. Think of a body scrub that’s used in the shower. Water can get into the container and create an environment for microbial growth, so we add in preservatives to help safeguard the product—and consumer.”


Does Codex use microbiological challenge tests to confirm our preservatives work effectively?

“Yes we use a microbiological challenge test or Preservative Efficacy Test (PET) carried out by a lab to confirm that our preservation system is working. This test involves inoculating a product with a mixture of bacteria, yeast, and mold, then measuring the levels of the microbes over time, typically 28 days. If the number of microorganisms in the product does not fall to acceptable levels, the product fails the PET and does not go to market. This is performed several times during the product development stage to absolutely ensure 100% product safety.”


How long is the shelf life with our natural preservative system?

“Natural products have a shelf life of approximately six to 18 months. However, by utilizing good manufacturing practices (GMP), coupled with airless packaging, the shelf life of our products rivals that of conventional skin care products.

But a more accurate timeframe is to look at the “after opening” interval. You will find a symbol on the product, such as an open jar, together with a number and the letter M (for example: 6M). This represents the number of months a product is good for once opened. I believe this method of identifying a product’s shelf life better reflects the actual usage period. I feel that consumers are more aware of this expiration issue now and are actually dubious of much longer shelf lives.”

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