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Why We Won’t Use Neem Oil As a Natural Preservative
Neem oil is a natural product from the seeds and fruit of the evergreen neem tree. It is used in more than 100 pesticide products and has important applications in organic agriculture and medicine. It has been used as an insecticide for hundreds of years and is considered safe (1).
These days, neem oil is considered a natural alternative to synthetic preservatives.
Neem oil is a mixture of components and is not a pure essential oil. Azadirachtin is the active ingredient responsible for repelling and killing insects. The remaining components include fatty acids, essential oils, and other substances. Neem oil components can be found in other products such as toothpaste, cosmetics, soaps, household shampoos, supplements and medicines.
Most cosmetics include water as an emulsifying ingredient; therefore, preservatives are needed to prevent spoilage and bacterial growth.
If you have ever bought a natural beauty, non-preservable beauty product such as a face cream and discovered a “good smell” before it is fully used, it means that the product is spoiled (that is, it is contaminated with yeast, mold, bacteria or mold. ). Unfortunately, these products produce natural sugars in a moist environment — the perfect breeding ground (complete with food source) for microbial growth. The product may look and smell good and be contaminated. If the product is really all-natural and has no preservative, it should be treated like food: freshly made in small batches and refrigerated (and remember, they will expire).
Products made with natural preservatives are slightly better in terms of shelf life if used within 30 days of opening, but you may want to ask the question: how good are natural preservatives vs. the product (and you)? Therefore, while there are effective, naturally occurring preservatives, some may weaken with exposure to air and water and thus may not provide the same comprehensive protection as synthetic ones.
Neem Oil as a Natural Protectant
When neem oil is used as a preservative, it acts as an antiseptic, anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-parasitic. Sounds good, right? And it’s used as an insecticide so it must work, right? (Although I doubt that argument would work in favor of synthetics!) Neem oil is effective in keeping the oil from going rancid, but it does not protect the product from bacteria and yeast because it is not a preservative. And it seems you don’t like water. Bad news for technical managers and natural health promoters who want neem oil used as a preservative in water-based cosmetics instead of more effective (and therefore safer) preservatives available for this purpose, such as Neolone 950. Strict regulations require such preservatives. to kill all common pathogens. (See http://personalcaretruth.com/2010/06/why-cosmetics-need-preservatives/ for an excellent article on this topic.)
The half-life of neem oil in water is between one hour and four days. “Half-life” means that the concentration decreases by 50% in the measured time. If we take one day as the half-life of neem oil in water, and a good average of the given limits, we will see a decrease in the effective concentration to 50% in one day, 25% in two days, 12.5% in three days . , 6% in four days, 3% in five days and so on. By the time the product reaches the consumer from the date of manufacture, the neem oil will be completely degraded and cannot be used as a preservative; therefore, water products that contain neem oil as a preservative are not protected from pollution (which poses a greater risk to your health than synthetic preservatives).
Consumers should be more aware of the misleading advice given by consumer protection groups, especially Safe Cosmetics and the Environmental Working Group (and their extensive skin data). We need to question these groups as deeply as we ask big business to open the conversation. I’m not sure why these groups are considered the final authority. Is it because they confirm our fears and suspicions of evil entities? I don’t know, that’s just a guess. Although their intentions may be sound, they often rely heavily on Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs) — which are usually publicly available — as one of their sources. MSDSs are useful, of course; however, people may forget or don’t know that MSDSs provide safety procedures for workers in the industrial area to follow in the event of a major spill/exposure: these are “worst case” scenarios that have not worked for consumers of these products.
MSDSs are used to help establish product stewardship and occupational safety and health guidelines for workers and emergency personnel who handle or work with hazardous materials. They are not intended for consumers, but only for those in the workplace. It is important to remember when considering the safety aspects of the products you use that: “The dose makes the poison,” or, in this case, as conservation expert David Steinberg said, “Remember, Antibiotics are safer than Bacteria (TM).”
Back to the neem oil. An organic chemist, like me, will look at the chemical structure of azadirachtin, the active ingredient in neem oil, and know that it will not be stable in water, as we discussed before, but that it separates easily. reacting with water into small, useless particles. Although most of us are not organic chemists, this is easy enough to understand.
Neem oil is also hydrophobic, meaning that the molecules are repelled by water masses. Therefore, in order to mix water and neem oil together (emulsify) for application purposes, certain surfactants must be added. And, of course, when you look at the pesticide/farming literature, you find that the mixed product must be used immediately because of its limited shelf life. But not all products containing neem oil have this description. It is important to note that some neem oil containing products are often “stable.” However, the product still loses its neem oil activity; it only continues to deliver pesticide activity due to other antimicrobials in the formula.
I don’t think anyone (cosmetics manufacturers, natural product suppliers, green sellers, etc.,) is trying to deceive the consumer. It may be an issue of knowledge (lack thereof). Unfortunately, this type of misinformation is putting the health of many consumers at risk.
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