Potassium Sorbate

Ingredient: Potassium Sorbate

INCI: Potassium Sorbate

Source: Salt of Sorbic Acid

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What is Potassium Sorbate?

Potassium sorbate is the inactive salt of sorbic acid and occurs as a white crystalline powder, white granules or pellets. It is a mild preservative widely used in many cosmetic and skincare products including makeup, eye and hair care formulas.

It prevents growth and reproduction of microorganisms as it is active against mold, fairly active against yeast but hardly produces any reaction against most bacteria. To create a broader preservative system, it needs to be used with other preservatives.

When dissolved in water, potassium sorbate converts to sorbic acid.  Sorbic acid is very pH dependent and optimum antimicrobial activity is attained at pH values up to 6.5. Sorbic acid is an unsaturated fatty acid and is found in berries of the mountain ash tree.

Benefits of Potassium Sorbate:

Potassium sorbate is a safer alternative to paraben-based preservative systems as it protects formulations against spoilage without the carcinogenic effects of parabens. Due to its long-term safety record and non-toxic profile, potassium sorbate is also used as a food preservative in cheese, syrups and jams.

Research has shown that the salt is not carcinogenic when consumed at 0.1% in the diet or 0.3% in drinking water for up to 100 weeks. Even at concentrations of up to 10%, it did not cause irritations to the eye and only slightly to the skin, making it an excellent non-irritating and non-sensitizing agent.

Side Effects & Toxicity:

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Cosmetic Ingredient Review assessed the safety of potassium sorbate and determined that it was Generally Recognized As Safe.

Editor’s Note:

Potassium sorbate mixed with ascorbic acid (vitamin C) can cause mutagenicity and DNA-damaging activities although studies show that the risk is very low.

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