SerumScoop: Tips, tricks and news

"Free From" Claims, and Problems for Preservatives

Here at Reviv Serums, we don't use "free from" claims, like "paraben free" or "free of toxic chemicals" (which is especially laughable, as if you could legally make and market a product that does contain anything "toxic" or doesn't  contain a "chemical").

For one, most "free-from" claims are against European Commission regulations. It's also really misleading to the public.

Regarding preservatives, we use safe, effective, tested preservatives at minimal, safe percentages to insure that our products will be free from microbial contamination.

Here's a recent article on the subject, with background and advice from David Steinberg, a long-time preservative expert in the industry:

Problems for Preservatives

“If you live by the sword, you die by the sword,” warned David Steinberg, president, Steinberg & Associates. He issued those words of warning to cosmetics companies that would promote their products as “preservative-free.”

Steinberg’s ominous warning came aboard the Azure Azul, as the speaker on the New York Chapter of the Society of Cosmetic Chemists dinner cruise around Manhattan.

The long-time preservative expert recalled what he termed, “the good old days,” of preservation; i.e., pre-2004. Years ago, in order to create a global formulation, the cosmetic chemist only had to ask herself, “Is it allowed in Japan?”

“If Japan allowed it, you could use it everywhere,” Steinberg noted.

Unfortunately, today, countries and regions have their own rules and regulations that make a truly global formula truly impossible to create.

A Devil of a Deal

It all began to change in the early 1980s, when a distributor promised a UV filter manufacturer that it could make its UV filter No. 1 in the world in exchange for 10% commission, recalled Steinberg. The deal was done and the distributor began attacking Padimate O (INCI: Ethylhexyl dimethyl PABA), which at the time was the top-selling UV filter. Although Padimate O did not contain PABA and was not made from PABA, the distributor linked Padimate O to PABA and its negative properties; i.e., stains fabric, water solubility, etc. This “guilt by association” led to a proliferation of PABA-free claims and the birth of the ingredient-free movement.

Today, there is the growing demand for free-from formulations; you know, silicone-free, paraben-free, triclosan-free, preservative-free and, of course, chemical-free.

This “free-from” epidemic has gotten so out of hand that England and France have banned the term from product labels. And, Advertising Standards Canada considers “free” claims to be false and misleading. But in the world’s largest cosmetics market, the US, “anything goes,” Steinberg lamented.

And that’s where his ominous warning comes in. Non-government organizations (NGOs), such as the Environmental Working Group and Women’s Voices for the Earth, are like moths to flame whenever the term “-free” is used by cosmetic marketing departments.

“To NGOs, ‘-free’ means not safe; we are our own worst enemy,” he charged.

The parabens came under fire when Philippa Darby, published a poorly researched paper linking breast cancer to use of antiperspirants containing parabens.

"It was junk science; we never even used parabens in antiperspirants,” noted Steinberg. “Darby ultimately retracted her study, but very few people know that!”

Once parabens were in the crosshairs, other preservatives and other ingredient categories became fair game, recalled Steinberg. Parabens were followed by triclosan, quaternium-15, isothiazolinones, formaldehyde releasers, acids, glycols, phenoxyethanol, benzoic acid, sorbic acid and many preservatives.

“Methylchloroisothiazolinone and methylisothiazolinone have come under fire in recent years, even though Beiersdorf has been using Kathon CG in its Nivea formulas since the 1980s,” explained Steinberg. “It’s not the material, it’s how you formulate with it.”

Formulators must fight for their preservatives, because they won’t be getting new ones anytime soon, not when it takes years to research and costs millions of dollars to develop and millions of dollars to test a new preservative.

“Nobody will spend that kind of time and money,” he said.

Today, more marketers are seeking “natural” preservation systems; a search that is futile, insisted Steinberg, who pointed out that grapefruit seed extract and Japanese honeysuckle extract, on their own, are not preservation systems. The problem with natural materials is that formulators are never sure of what they are getting, as the efficacy level can fluctuate.

So what is a formulator to do if she uses a preservative that won’t work? Steinberg provided a list of solutions, albeit expensive ones:

• Manufacture under strictly enforced cGMPs;
• Establish and use HACCP to where contamination is taking place and eliminate it;
• Hire a good consultant (“This is a paid political announcement,” he joked.);
• Package products so that consumers cannot contaminate them;
• Insist your company stop using self-destructive “free-from” claims; and
• Do not purchase ingredients from suppliers who use negative sales tactics.

“If you are brave enough, tell marketing the cost of not using good, safe preservatives,” urged Steinberg. “And never ship anything with a positive plate count.”

An FDA Bombshell

Once marketing and R&D’s objectives align, they can turn their attention to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which in February issued new guidelines for cosmetic site inspection. According to Steinberg, FDA is concerned that cosmetic products with label claims such as: “green,” “natural,” “no parabens” and “no preservatives” may not be safe without appropriate safety testing.

Therefore, companies that make such label statements should be given priority over traditionally manufactured cosmetics during inspection and sampling, according to FDA, which considers non-traditional preservatives to include botanical extracts, organic acids, alcohols and glycerols.

FDA instructs manufacturers to collect samples of recently produced and retained products, especially those that are water-based, when the manufacturer is unable to produce challenge test documentationor the adequacy of preservation is otherwise in doubt or non-traditional preservative systems are used.

“The FDA is not concerned with traditional preservatives such as the parabens, Quaternium-15 and DMDM Hydantoin,” concluded Steinberg.

— Excerpted/reprinted from the July issue of Happi:

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Reviews Showcase for RevivLash™ Lash & Brow Stimulating Serum

Here's a compendium of renowned beauty blogger & beauty review site publications who evaluated remarkable RevivLash:

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Are cosmetics safer in Europe?

Have you ever heard someone conjecture that cosmetics are safer in Europe because they "ban over 1,000 dangerous ingredients and the U.S. only bans 8?" As usual, the truth is a lot more complicated, and in fact cosmetics in the U.S. are effectively just as safe as their European counterparts.

Our colleagues over at The Beauty Brains teamed up with a U.K.-based cosmetic chemist Colin Sanders to explain the ins and outs of the relatively new cosmetic laws in the E.U. vis-a-vis U.S. FDA regulations.

Read more about it here:

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Parabens are SAFE, despite the hype!

The next time you read a story that vaguely indicates parabens are unsafe, think twice before you believe the hype and remember the facts -- the tiny levels used in your personal care products are not harmful.

Parabens actually mimic natural antimicrobials found in foods like blueberries, and are tremendously effective at preventing untoward microbial growth. A very small percentage of the population might find them irritating, but it pales in comparison to the utility and effectiveness of parabens to thwart nasty microbe growth without untoward irritation.

But do they cause cancer?!

The idea that parabens could cause cancer or promote the growth of tumors that respond to estrogen was the erroneous aspersion cast by a now-debunked "study" that "contain too many shortcomings in order to be considered as scientifically valid," according to the European Commission Directorate-General on Health & Consumer Protection.

Plenty of foods have some natural chemicals with estrogenic activity and of course they are not harmful in the least: onion, garlic, cabbage, cashews, grapefruit, hops and ginseng, among many others.

Yes, there are now "natural alternatives" hyped and sold (and some companies are raking in the dough selling their new untested alternatives). But they haven't stood the test of time. The result is the very rapid introduction of new preservatives that do not have the safety record exhibited by parabens, and most are far more irritating. Worse still, many are very ineffective. For some purposes we find that parabens are by far the best choice when it comes to balancing effective preservation without irritation, especially in water-based products.

Note that currently we only sell one product that actually contains parabens, but that preservative is by far the current best choice.

But don't take our word for it:

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) finds that parabens are safe for use in cosmetics, and based on the weight of all the current scientific evidence, there is no reason for consumers to be concerned about the use of products containing parabens.

The American Cancer Society has concluded, based on its research findings, that the scientific and medical research does not support a claim that the use of parabens in cosmetics can increase an individual’s risk of developing breast cancer.

Conclusion: The expectation of long shelf lives and microorganism-free consumer products mandates the use of preservatives. Ideally, preservatives should be active at low concentrations against a wide variety of microorganisms without interfering with other ingredients in the product, while also remaining nontoxic to humans and available at low cost to manufacturers. Parabens have been used for over 80 years and, despite reports of adverse reactions, they have proven to be amongst the safest and most well tolerated preservatives... The current data does not support drastic regulations or personal restrictions to exposure.

Regarding "studies" that purport to show some link to hormonal disruption: "contain too many shortcomings in order to be considered as scientifically valid"

"considers the use of parabens as preservatives in finished cosmetic products safe to the consumer, as long as the sum of their individual concentrations does not exceed recommended concentrations”.

Other useful links:

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Head To Head Comparison: Ultimate Serum™ vs. SkinMedica® TNS Essential Serum®

Ultimate Serum "Compare To" product to TNS Essential Serum from SkinMedica | Larger, Cheaper, 23 same ingredients

Ultimate Serum
is the first direct competitor to award-winning TNS Essential Serum® (NEWBEAUTY™ Beauty Choice Award Winner and InStyle™ Beauty Award Winner) by SkinMedica® which is now owned by Allergan, Inc. The patent on the TNS product relates to the medium called NouriCel-MD®, a "proprietary blend" of growth factors. We at Reviv Serums outflank this patent by simply providing our growth factors in a different conditioned media. In addition to the growth factors, we also include 25 of the top primary ingredients in TNS Essential Serum, and leapfrog by adding two of cosmetic chemistry's latest ingredients: stem cells and hexapeptides.

Regarding the percentage of growth factors in each product: In actuality, the growth factors in both products are quantities measured in micrograms. TNS just lists "conditioned media" as the first ingredient, and does not break down the quantities of the actual factors like EGF, KGF, VEGF, IGF, TGF, etc. Growth factors are similar to things like hormones in that very little volume/quantity is required to be active and effective (they are measured in micrograms, one millionth of a gram). Like a spark plug, a little bit will go a very long way, and more that the recommended quantity is not "better." As for the other non growth factor primary ingredients, they're the same - plus we add the PhytoCellTec® Stem Cells and hexapeptides. Ultimate Serum is twice the size of TNS (2 oz vs. 1 oz) and yet is less than half TNS's hefty price of $320.00+.

While parabens have a great safety profile (despite the hype), and we are not adverse to using them properly (see more here), Ultimate Serum contains a safe Ecocert preservative — Optiphen Plus — instead of the parabens used in TNS Essential Serum.

Ultimate Serum is really 11 different products in one:


• A brightening product
• An antioxidant serum
• A firming and tightening product
• An anti-inflammatory
• A peptide serum
• A green tea complex product
• A vitamin C serum
• A sebum controller
• A collagen stimulator serum
• A growth factor serum
• A moisturizer and light emollient


It’s the ultimate rejuvenator in a single serum. Navigate to its product page here.

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