The current world climate has changed the needs of consumers in the skincare industry. Priorities are now being placed on safety from bacteria and viruses and the growth of these in skincare products. This has resulted in a rise of favoritism in skincare products consisting of ingredients that offer antimicrobial properties, along with ingredients that prevent the growth of harmful microbes in products.
What are the popular antibacterial/antimicrobial ingredients used in skincare products?
Several commonly used skincare products contain ingredients that provide microbial properties. Two such ingredients to look out for are Retinol and Resveratrol.
Retinol (derivative of Vitamin A) helps protect the skin against bacterial infections, such as bacterial acne. This form of acne forms when a sebaceous gland gets blocked and the Propionibacterium bacteria (which lives naturally under the surface of the skin) reproduces. This triggers an immune response from the skin, resulting in inflammation. Lack of Vitamin A in the body makes it more susceptible to such infections. Depending on the severity of the acne, topical or oral products containing Retinol can be prescribed over a set period to help clear the skin.
Apart from its antimicrobial properties, Retinol also offers several other benefits to the skin including improving the skin’s texture, strength, firmness, and elasticity whilst also boosting collagen production. Skincare products containing retinol need to be gradually introduced into a routine at lower concentrations as it can irritate the skin.
The MZ Skin Retinol Skin Booster (2% Encapsulated Vitamin A Resurfacing Treatment) is suitable for new users and provides all the previously mentioned benefits to the skin.
Resveratrol is a natural antioxidant that is found in the skin and seeds of berries and grapes and red wine. Alongside its anti-ageing properties, Resveratrol has antimicrobial properties that fight a wide range of microbes (bacteria, fungi, and viruses). It inhibits the growth of different microbes under the skin, reducing the risk of infection. Additionally, Resveratrol also counterattacks any negative environmental effects on the skin whilst also brightening the complexion.
Are there any “natural” skincare ingredients that are antibacterial/antimicrobial?
Most essential oils (Tea tree, Lavender, Lemon, Eucalyptus, etc.) have potent antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. As essential oils are highly concentrated and can irritate sensitive skin, it is always recommended to dilute the oil before applying directly onto the skin.
Another ingredient known for its microbial properties is Aloe Vera, which is a common household plant. Aloe Vera gel can be used directly on sensitive skin and does not need to be diluted.
How is the growth of harmful microbes prevented in skincare products?
Preservatives are often used in skincare products to prevent the growth of bacteria. These are a must in moisturising skincare products, as the high moisture levels in such products are ideal for bacteria to thrive and grow. Preservatives stop this by killing the cells of microbes and creating an environment in which it becomes impossible for bacteria to grow or spread. One such preservative is Sodium Benzoate. Compared to traditional preservatives (Parabens), Sodium Benzoate is considered to be a milder and safer alternative. It is a natural preservative (salt product of Benzoic Acid) and can be used to inhibit the growth of bacteria, yeast, and fungus in products.
Along with protection against the growth of microbes in products, preservatives such as Sodium Benzoate are needed in skincare products that contain active ingredients. Without preservatives, such ingredients would become inactive and lose efficacy, resulting in a shorter shelf life for the product.