Preservatives

Preservatives, as the name suggests, help keep things fresh. We use preservatives to help protect our products from bacteria, yeasts and moulds. In the natural world preservatives help defend plant, human and animal cells. Similarly preservatives play a vital role in keeping our products safe and of a high quality. Without preservatives products could start to smell unpleasant, change colour or grow mould.

We assess each of our products to select the best preservative or combination of preservatives, considering factors such as the type of product, how it will be used and where it will be stored. For example, with skin creams we see if the repeated dipping of fingers into the product will contaminate it. 

In addition to complying with applicable laws and regulations, we conduct our own safety assessments and monitor emerging scientific research. We only include preservatives when they are needed, and carefully control the amount we use. This ensures we use preservatives safely and responsibly. 

We appreciate that some people prefer to avoid certain preservatives. With this in mind, we are sometimes able to develop products that do not include specific preservatives. 

In the following sections, you can read more about the preservative ingredients we are asked about most often: parabens, methylisothiazolinone, formaldehyde donors, and phenoxyethanol.

Your questions answered

Without preservatives, visible mould can grow in skin cream within around eight days.

Source: Personal Care Products Council
Back to top

Connect with us

We're always looking to connect with those who share an interest in a sustainable future.

Contact us

Get in touch with Unilever and specialist teams in our headquarters, or find contacts around the world.

Contact us