Skincare Ingredients: Sorbic Acid

What is Sorbic Acid?

Great for: Broad spectrum preservation against molds and yeasts
How it works: Sorbic acid is a naturally occurring compound that is the most commonly used food preservative in the world. Sorbic acid and its salts, such as sodium sorbate, potassium sorbate, and calcium sorbate, work to prevent the growth of mold, yeast, and fungi. It is easy to work with and is effective in a wide pH range of 2.5-7

Sorbic acid also works as a humectant and can be used instead of glycerin in skincare formulas.

People with extremely sensitive skin or eczema should consider avoiding sorbic acid in skincare because of possible irritation.

Where does Sorbic Acid come from?

Sorbic acid naturally occurs in a variety of natural sources and was first isolated from the unripe berries of the Sorbus aucuparia (rowan tree). Now, it can be produced synthetically.

Formulation notes

Typical concentration 0.05-0.3% (if used alone) or 0.05-0.15% (if used in combination with other preservatives). and can irritate higher amounts. Under certain conditions, sorbic acid may oxidize and cause slight color changes in the cosmetic product. This can normally be prevented by adding 0.1–0.3% citric acid to the product.

Sources:
  • Milady Skin Care and Cosmetic Ingredients Dictionary, 4th Edition
  • What is Sorbic Acid – https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/what-is-sorbic-acid
  • Sorbic acid – https://www.makingcosmetics.com/Sorbic-Acid_p_1092.html
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