"Nature-identical" Preservative for More Sustainable Science


The demand for natural raw materials for personal care products is on the rise. Many consumers view these materials as a healthier choice for themselves and the environment. However, a raw material can carry a natural claim without being sustainably sourced.

The planet's limited natural resources can be protected for the future by ensuring that they are harvested and processed in a sustainable manner. The use of sustainably manufactured “nature-identical” materials can be a reliable and environmentally-friendly alternative to naturals. “Nature-identical” materials from schülke allow for cosmetic formulations that are more sustainable, as well as more cost-effective and consistent.

"Nature-identical" for Sustainability

All schülke products are produced in an environment that promotes sustainability as a key corporate policy, with efforts such as production and operation practices that minimize the impact on the environment and building awareness of sustainable principles to guide how the company's products are used. Since 2005, schülke has reduced its gaseous emissions by 20%. Built on a site where the soil and ground water was found to be polluted, the company also has an on-site water treatment facility used to purify their own well water to drinking quality for use in manufacturing. The “Sustainability Report 2008 and Environmental Statement” is provided by schülke to document how environmental consciousness can successfully become an integral part of the corporate philosophy of a chemical company/ingredient supplier. The raw material supplier and manufacturer must work in unison to provide the consumer with a product that can truly be considered “sustainable.”

“Nature-identical” materials offer a way to harness the best of nature without relying on the availability or quality of the materials that exist in nature. These materials are synthetic versions of the same chemistries found in nature, and because they are synthetic, they can be reliably replicated from year-to-year and batch-to-batch. This is particularly important for preservatives, as variability in the properties or concentration of a preservative could cause a product to become easily contaminated, compromising formulas and possibly risking the health of the consumer.

"Nature-identical" Phenethyl Alcohol

“Nature-identical” phenethyl alcohol was used to create schülke's sensiva® PA 20 (INCI: Phenethyl Alcohol (and) Ethylhexylglycerin). Phenethyl alcohol occurs widely in nature and can be found in many essential oils, including rose, carnation, hyacinth and others. It is used as a fragrance component and has a mild rose odor. It also has properties that make it an excellent choice to help maintain the microbiological stability of personal care formulas. This activity is boosted in sensiva® PA 20 by pairing phenethyl alcohol with ethylhexylglycerin. Ethylhexylglycerin is similar to a class of chemicals that occur naturally in the liver of certain sea creatures. Being synthetically derived, ethylhexylglycerin maintains all of the beneficial preservative-boosting and moisturizing properties of these materials, without harming any living creatures.

"Nature-identical" Phenethyl Alcohol vs. Phenoxyethanol

Phenoxyethanol has been widely used in the personal care industry. Preservative efficacy tests were conducted comparing sensiva® PA 20 to euxyl® PE 9010 (INCI: Phenoxyethanol (and) Ethylhexylglycerin), a similar, phenoxyethanol-based preservative. Preservative efficacy tests, schülke's KoKo tests, were performed using a w/o cream (see Formula 1) and an o/w cream (see Formula 2) at equivalent levels of euxyl® PE 9010 and sensiva® PA 20. In the KoKo test, a mixture of bacteria, yeast and mold is inoculated six times (once a week) into the test material with the goal of keeping the test material germ-free for this period. The inoculum contains pathogenic microorganisms and germs that are well known for product spoilage. All species are cultivated separately and mixed directly before the addition to ensure a constant composition and germ count of the inoculum. Total germ count is approximately 108–109 cfu/ml, which equates to a germ count of approximately 106 cfu/ml per test organism in the sample.

Experience has shown that a cosmetic product without growth of microorganisms after six inoculation cycles can be considered microbiologically stable for 30 months, which is recommended for cosmetic products.


Figure 1 and Figure 2 show the results of the above tests. In both Formula 1 and Formula 2, sensiva® PA 20 was as effective as the phenoxyethanol-based euxyl® PE 9010 at preserving the emulsions.

The use of "nature-identical" compounds can be the scientific answer to the question of sustainability. These materials offer the benefits of nature with the reproducibility of science. When science and nature work together, a formulator can offer better products that consumers can feel good about purchasing.


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