The ideal biocide, one that is nontoxic, nonallergenic, nonirritating, and capable of broad-spectrum microbe inhibition has not been identified; the problem is compounded when considering factors such as the stability of microbicidal products over a broad range of pH and temperature conditions and great chemical compatibility demands in final formulations. Despite the best efforts of the cosmetics industry, the list of preservatives with “acceptable” activity and allergenicity characteristics is remarkably short. With the intense scrutiny that several newer biocides have received, this series of articles hopes to gain perspective into the problem of preservative sensitization, safety, and suitability for cosmetic use. In the first part of this three-part series, the problem will be overviewed, and published data on formaldehyde and formaldehydereleasing preservatives will be summarized. New data regarding this important class of preservatives will be presented in part II; the final installment will discuss other preservative agents that do not release formaldehyde, with current trends and future directions examined.
Address reprint requests to Anthony F. Fransway, MD, Assistant Professor of Dermatology, Mayo Clinic and Foundation, Rochester, MN 55905.
© 1991 Decker Publishing Inc.