Natural Cosmetic Preservation with Spectrastat Complete Solutions

Image used for illustrative purposes only

The Naturals &Wellness movements are driving change in beauty & personal care products and preservation is one of the most challenging areas in this respect. Preservation has to be effective and safe, in addition to meeting consumer desires. Today, consumer-accepted traditional preservation options are limited and the additional consumer expectation of natural and sustainable ingredients limits the field of options even further. Many preferred traditional preservatives used in the cosmetics industry, such as Phenoxyethanol or Sodium Benzoate, are 100% petro-derived.1The most prevalent alternative options used today either as standalone or preservation boosting options, including Caprylyl Glycol or Ethylhexylglycerin, are also 100% petro-derived.

Effective preservation is arguably one of the most important aspects of formulation because the preservative system exists explicitly to maintain consumer-product safety. Protecting formulations from microbial growth is also critically important to ensure product longevity and shelf-stability. At the same time, incorporating a new preservation system into your formulation needs to be easy and straightforward so it does not interfere with new product development timelines. The ideal way to accomplish safety, efficacy, and ease of formulation is by utilizing complete, broad-spectrum systems.

Degree of ionization as a function of pH

Broad Spectrum Complete Systems: Optimized for Safety, Efficacy, and Ease of Use

Achieving broad-spectrum antimicrobial control requires an optimized combination of multifunctional ingredients that collectively are effective at controlling bacteria, yeast, and mold growth. Inclusion of carrier fluids or solvents transforms these optimized combinations into complete systems that are easy to formulate. Depending on the carrier fluid used, it can provide water solubility, cold processability, or even enhance formulation aesthetics.

Spectrastat cosmetic preservation solutions are optimized, proprietary combinations of multifunctional ingredients that work together with smart formulation design and good manufacturing practices to deliver broad-spectrum preservation effects.2 All Spectrastat cosmetic preservation alternatives utilize core technology: Spectrastat CHA (Caprylhydroxamic Acid).  Caprylhydroxamic Acid (CHA) is a 100% biobased chelating agent that inhibits microbial growth, specifically the growth of yeast and mold. The C8 carbon chain is an ideal length for disruption of cell membranes and provides microbial growth control over yeast, mold, and bacteria. The hydroxamic acid structure of CHA provides a unique benefit over traditional carboxylic acids: a higher pKa. As a result, CHA is present in its active form at high levels, up to 99%, over a broad pH range, including neutral pH. This benefit combination defines Caprylhydroxamic Acid as a 100% natural ingredient that provides effective broad-spectrum microbial growth control at low use levels over a broad pH range from pH 4 – 8. 

Spectrastat complete systems also include a medium-chain terminal diol for additional bacteria growth control and carrier fluids for easy-to-use liquid formats. A variety of optimized complete solutions are available under the Spectrastattradename and two of these solutions contain high biobased content. Spectrastat G2 Natural MB (Caprylhydroxamic Acid (and) Glyceryl Caprylate (and) Glycerin) contains 100% USDA certified biobased content. The 100% natural combination of Caprylhydroxamic Acid with Glyceryl Caprylate, a skin conditioning agent, creates a ready-to-use combination that effectively controls bacteria, yeast, and mold over a broad pH range from pH 4 – 8. Spectrastat G2 Natural MB efficacy has been demonstrated in cleansing compositions, emulsions, and wipes lotions at a typical use level of 1.0 – 1.5% (w/w). Spectrastat PHL (Caprylhydroxamic Acid (and)1,2-Hexanediol (and) Propanediol) is another optimized solution with high natural content. Spectrastat PHL contains 66% USDA certified biobased content. The chelating power of Caprylhydroxamic Acid is combined with the solvency of 1,2-Hexanediol yielding a readily water-soluble and cold processable alternative preservation solution that effectively controls bacteria, yeast, and mold. Spectrastat PHL provides a mild and gentle solution that is ideal for baby products and facial care products, including sheet masks.

The INOLEX philosophy is to rethink traditional preservation to meet consumer desires for health and wellness while fulfilling the requirement of product safety. Instead of using one powerful preservative, multiple barriers to microbial growth can be established to limit or eliminate microorganism growth in a formulation. We assemble multiple ingredients in optimized combinations that work synergistically with other formulation hurdles already put in place to provide broad-spectrum efficacy, safety, and ease of use in the formulation.


  1. Fevola, M. J. “Ingredient Profile: Benzoic Acid/Sodium Benzoate.”Cosmetics & Toiletries Magazine, November 2011, Vol. 126, No. 11.
  2. Winn, D. Preservation of Cosmetics, Toiletry and Pharmaceutical Compositions. (a) US8993641 B2, United State Patent and Trademark Office, 31 March 2015. (b) EP2224973 B1, European Patent Office, 04 April 2016.

Image used for illustrative purposes only