Cosmetic preservation: What is hurdle technology?

The frequently used term ‘hurdle technology’ in the context of cosmetic preservation


Judi Beerling

Cosmetics Business gets experts to answer those cosmetics-related questions you should know, but maybe feel it’s too late to ask. Here, Judi Beerling explains the frequently used term ‘hurdle technology’ in the context of cosmetic preservation

Judi Beerling, is the Technical Manager at Pertech Associates Ltd and Ecovia Intelligence

Judi Beerling gave an educational workshop on ‘Alternative preservative systems for cosmetics & personal care products’ at the in-cosmetics Global event on 18 April 2018.


Traditional preservative systems are coming under pressure from multiple directions.

Regulators are increasingly reducing use levels or prohibiting materials, while consumers are questioning the use of preservatives that they read bad things about.

This leaves the formulator with a dilemma – how to produce legal and safe cosmetics while using more natural, sustainable and 'gentler' alternatives.

Add to this the cost implications and – for natural formulators, working with restricted lists of antimicrobials that natural and organic standards will permit – you get a very limited selection.

The cosmetics industry took inspiration from the food industry where the use of 'antimicrobial hurdle technology' has been around since the 1970s. So, what is it?

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