Sodium benzoate in cosmetics. What is it, the benefits and harms, the composition of the preservative, overdose symptoms

Most manufacturers of cosmetics, given the current trends in the industry, seek to minimize the proportion of chemicals in the composition.

Nevertheless, no matter how sterile the production process is, when water is added to the cosmetics, the number of harmful microorganisms grows in it. To prevent this process, chemically synthesized preservatives are used, among which sodium benzoate is most popular.

Sodium benzoate, commonly known as E211, is one of the most inexpensive preservatives. Visually, this white crystalline solid is practically odorless and with a subtle sweetish taste. In a dosage not exceeding the permissible level, sodium benzoate is considered harmless.

The breadth of its application and popularity is due to its ability to withstand high temperatures and maintain its properties in an acidic environment. Sodium benzoate is highly soluble in water and non-toxic. Sodium benzoate exists in natural and artificial form.

Sodium benzoate in cosmetics. What is it, the benefits and harms, the composition of the preservative, overdose symptoms

In nature, it is found in small doses in a huge variety of foods: in cranberries, cloves, cinnamon, allspice, apples, and prunes. Also, this component in its natural form is present in mustard, seafood, cheeses and dairy products. Some bacteria produce benzoate during the fermentation of dairy products, such as yogurt.

However, it is impossible to synthesize sodium benzoate from natural ingredients on an industrial scale.

In this regard, it is produced in laboratory conditions by combining sodium hydroxide or sodium carbonate with benzoic acid. Sodium benzoate has emerged as an alternative to expensive and dangerous salicylic acid, which has preservative properties and helps to increase the shelf life of a product.

Sodium benzoate acts as follows:

  • penetrates into the cells of the product containing it;
  • changes the acidity level in cells;
  • due to a change in acidity complicates the fermentation of starch and fats;
  • minimizes the amount of decay products that are food for pathogenic bacteria;
  • in the absence of nutrition, yeast and fungi die.

However, it is worth considering the fact that sodium benzoate, like any preservative, does not keep food fresh, but only provides a sufficiently toxic environment to prevent the growth of bacteria. Sodium benzoate is also used as a flavor enhancer, making foods more palatable and sweeter. Due to the presence of benzoic acid, E211 has an antimicrobial effect.

Sodium benzoate acts as a corrosion inhibitor, that is, it helps to prevent corrosion (rust) of metal materials used in cosmetic packaging. Due to its properties and cost, sodium benzoate has found its application in many industries (Table 1). Table 1. Areas of use of sodium benzoate.

Sodium benzoate in cosmetics. What is it, the benefits and harms, the composition of the preservative, overdose symptoms

Sodium benzoate industry Purpose of application
Food industry To increase the shelf life of baby food, weight loss products, animal feed, and long-term storage products such as canned goods, pickles, sauces, juices, carbonated drinks, confectionery, mayonnaise, caviar
Cosmetic industry As an active ingredient and preservative in decorative cosmetics, body and hair care products
Pharmaceuticals
  • As a component in the manufacture of expectorants, medicines for hyperammonemia or metabolic disorders and urea withdrawal;
  • as a lubricant in the manufacture of tablets (makes them transparent, smooth and capable of rapid destruction after ingestion);
  • as adjunctive treatment for schizophrenia
Tobacco production To prevent tobacco mold
Pyrotechnics To get the “screech” sound effect in fireworks
Chemical industry In the manufacture of dyes, polypropylene, non-pesticidal agricultural chemicals, automotive coolants
Aviation industry In the production of anti-corrosion coatings for aluminum parts

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Preservative Composition

The following chemical elements are part of the sodium benzoate preservative:

  • benzene – oil refining product;
  • 1,4-dioxane is a stabilizer;
  • trichlorethylene;
  • chloroform;
  • heavy metals in a small amount (0.01%).

Sodium benzoate in cosmetics

Face and body care products, especially those exposed to water in the shower or sink, are at a high risk of contamination due to bacteria, yeast and mold spores. Also, cosmetics, given the presence in their composition of essential oils, plant extracts and fats, without the use of preservatives have a very short shelf life.

Sodium benzoate in cosmetics. What is it, the benefits and harms, the composition of the preservative, overdose symptoms
Sodium benzoate or sodium benzoate in cosmetics can have both good and negative results.

Spoiled products are harmful to the skin and the body as a whole. Sodium benzoate in cosmetics helps to cope with the problem of the duration of its storage, because on the counter of the store or on the dressing table, the care product can stand for a rather long period. Even organic cosmetics include this supplement.

It allows products from natural components to be stored as much as fully synthetic substances. An additive based on benzoic acid can be used as a preservative or as an active ingredient in antifungal products, cosmetics for legs, hair and compounds for problem skin.

Sodium benzoate in cosmetics is commonly used in personal care products such as hair products, baby wipes, toothpaste and mouthwash. Sodium benzoate in cosmetics is combined with potassium sorbate, which increases their preservative properties.

As an independent sodium preservative, benzoate is added to products with an acidic environment: various hair conditioners, masks, balms.

In foaming products (shower gels, bath foams) this component is present in smaller quantities, as it reduces the formation of foam. Sodium benzoate was also widely used in decorative cosmetics, the shelf life of which is quite long.

The presence of sodium benzoate in personal care products has been evaluated by scientists at hazard level 3 on a scale from 0 to 10. This means that the overall risk of its use is relatively low.


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Among the main useful cosmetic properties of sodium benzoate, the following are distinguished:

  • preserving effect – sodium benzoate protects the cosmetic composition from the appearance in it of pathogenic organisms that cause fungus and mold;

Sodium benzoate in cosmetics. What is it, the benefits and harms, the composition of the preservative, overdose symptoms

  • anti-inflammatory effect ;
  • the antibacterial effect that occurs when sodium benzoate is combined with lactic acid;
  • relatively low toxicity when affecting the skin;
  • antifungal effect – acting as a preservative, sodium benzoate is able to clean the microflora not only in the cosmetic product itself, but also to rid the skin of the fungus.

The action of sodium benzoate as an active ingredient is equally effective for all skin types and for all hair types.

Harm sodium benzoate

Sodium benzoate is approved by the US Food and Drug Administration and has received a GRAS rating of “generally accepted as safe”. Many hair and cosmetics testing experts find this ingredient generally harmless if it is not used in sufficiently high dosages.

Nevertheless, its effect on the human body has not been fully investigated.

While some researchers believe that low doses of sodium benzoate, taken orally or applied to the scalp, hair, or body, have little effect, others believe that even small amounts can cause serious consequences in those whose bodies are more sensitive.

If a person’s health is already a concern, he is recommended to use as little chemicals as possible. If the problem is related to cancer, then home remedies for cleaning hair and body are recommended. However, finding products even on shelves for healthy products and organics without any small preservatives is not easy.

Sodium benzoate in cosmetics and the food industry as an additive is prohibited in some countries. It is believed that any preservative does more harm than good.

Among the dangers associated with the use of E211, researchers distinguish the following:

  • Sodium benzoate inhibits the activity of enzymes that are responsible for the implementation of redox reactions in the cells of the human body.
  • Allergic reactions occur, urticaria, dermatitis, itching, suffocation, which are especially dangerous for people suffering from asthma and allergies.

Sodium benzoate in cosmetics. What is it, the benefits and harms, the composition of the preservative, overdose symptoms

  • Provokes Parkinson’s disease and other diseases of the nervous system.
  • It has a detrimental effect on the functioning of the liver, which is fraught with cirrhosis.
  • It accumulates in the body due to the difficulties of its excretion.
  • Sodium benzoate in cosmetics is often combined with ascorbic acid, resulting in the formation of a harmful carcinogen benzene. The consumption of benzene can lead to the development of cancerous tumors or a lack of hemoglobin and, as a consequence, to anemia. Products that contain E211 and vitamin C in their composition have a low acidity level, which contributes to the rapid formation of benzene. The reaction is also accelerated by air and sunlight, because not all cosmetics are packaged in lightproof tubes.
  • In combination with artificial dyes, it affects the behavior of children (causes hyperactivity), the nervous system and their intellectual abilities.
  • May cause attention deficit disorder. This disease is most often found in children, but may also be present in adults. Affected people may be forgetful, have difficulty concentrating and follow directions or show impulsiveness.
  • When consumed in large quantities, it has a toxic effect on the kidneys.
  • Changes the structure of the membrane of DNA due to its ability to penetrate into the cell. Since the DNA shell is involved in the transfer of genetic information, any change in it, and in the case of the influence of sodium benzoate, the formation of growths on it, can cause genetic failures. Also, scientists associate the similar effect of E211 on DNA with the emergence of a further predisposition to drug addiction, smoking and even suicidal tendencies.
  • It causes rapid skin aging due to the fact that sodium benzoate destroys not only pathogenic, but also beneficial bacteria.
  • It disrupts the
    respiratory tract as a result of the ingress of a preservative into them.
  • Irritating to mucous membranes if substance enters the eye.
  • May cause gastrointestinal upsets.
  • It controls appetite by reducing the release of leptin, a hormone that suppresses appetite.
  • It causes an increase in blood pressure, which in turn increases the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Sodium benzoate in cosmetics. What is it, the benefits and harms, the composition of the preservative, overdose symptoms

  • Sodium benzoate contained in decorative cosmetics, as a result of excessive use without strict adherence to hygiene standards, promotes clogging of pores and the formation of acne.
  • The combination of sodium benzoate and sodium phenylacetate can cause additional serious side effects (severe headache, fainting, blurred vision, chest pain, slow heartbeat, immunity, and slurred speech).

Permissible dosage of sodium benzoate

Due to the fact that sodium benzoate is present not only in food, cosmetics, but also in cigarette smoke, as well as in polluted air, it is quite difficult to determine exactly how much of this substance enters the human body. It all depends on the environmental situation, lifestyle, products used and care products used by a particular person.

According to studies of the International Chemical Safety Program, consumption of E211 in an amount not exceeding 5-8 mg / pounds of body weight per day will be relatively harmless. The World Health Organization has set an acceptable daily intake (ADI) for sodium benzoate at 0–2.27 mg per pound (0–5 mg per pounds) of body weight.

Sodium benzoate in cosmetics should not exceed 0.3-0.5% of the total weight of the product to increase the duration of its shelf life and minimize the effect on the body. If the dosage is reduced, cosmetics can be stored for no more than a month in the refrigerator.


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Overdose

Do not forget that the body is practically not able to remove sodium benzoate, so if possible, doctors recommend minimizing its use. Otherwise, an excessive amount of this substance can lead to an overdose and negative consequences.

Symptoms of an overdose of sodium with benzoate include:

  • nausea;
  • dizziness;
  • gagging;
  • stomach pains;

Sodium benzoate in cosmetics. What is it, the benefits and harms, the composition of the preservative, overdose symptoms

  • swelling
  • allergic reactions (itching, redness);
  • cardiopalmus;
  • weakness;
  • fainting condition;
  • trembling in the body.

As a first aid for an overdose of E211, it is necessary to rinse the stomach and take an absorbent agent (for example, activated charcoal). Then you need to call a doctor and temporarily completely eliminate the use of this preservative.

Sodium benzoate during pregnancy

Sodium benzoate is strictly contraindicated during pregnancy. However, if food products containing it can be completely excluded from the diet, then hygiene products without E211 are not. Due to its ability to alter the structure of DNA, sodium benzoate can cause genetic abnormalities in a child.

At the same time, the baby’s body is still being formed and unstable to the effects of chemicals, so this supplement can directly disrupt the construction of the immune and nervous systems.

Excessive consumption of products containing E211 can cause fetal growth retardation, as it affects the formation of various vital systems of the body of the child and mother. In addition to further neurological disorders and hyperactivity, a newborn may develop brain abnormalities. The risk of miscarriage in the early stages of pregnancy increases.

All these consequences are likely only with the abuse of products with preservatives. Today, the production of cosmetics without the use of preservatives, in particular sodium benzoate, is almost impossible. The manufacture of home care products and their immediate use to prevent the formation of fungus and other bacteria is quite problematic.

Sodium benzoate in cosmetics. What is it, the benefits and harms, the composition of the preservative, overdose symptoms

In this regard, a compromise is inevitable and in order to minimize the negative consequences for the body, it is necessary to choose cosmetics with a lower preservative content.

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