Understanding your cosmetics

Why do cosmetics need preservatives?

Close-up shot of microscope with metal lens at laboratory.

Preservatives are natural or synthetic ingredients used in cosmetic and personal care products to prevent them from deteriorating and becoming contaminated by microorganisms like bacteria, yeasts and mould. Without preservatives many cosmetics and personal care products would have to be refrigerated and even then they would have a short shelf life – similar to perishable food.

All preservatives approved for use in cosmetics and personal care products are safe and are subject to strict EU safety legislation. This also applies to a family of substances called parabens. From extensive research into their safe use, selected parabens are approved to be used as preservatives in cosmetics and personal care products.

Find out more here about how cosmetics are kept safe in Europe.



Cosmetics matter to people and play an important role in our everyday life. On average European consumers use over seven different cosmetics daily. You too? It’s only natural that you want to know more about the ingredients in those products.

In the digital world we live in, there’s a deluge of information on cosmetics. However, it can be difficult to know which sources are reliable. COSMILE Europe is a European cosmetic ingredient database that offers reliable, verified and scientifically supported information on almost 30,000 ingredients used in cosmetics.

This database will help you understand why certain ingredients are in your cosmetic products; which properties they have and much more. The database is currently available in fourteen languages with more to come.

Search the Database

Why our information is reliable

All information in COSMILE Europe comes from verified sources and is based on independent expert knowledge.

The list of ingredients and what they do comes from the European Commission’s CosIng database, an official source of information on cosmetic substances and ingredients. Learn more by clicking here.

More detailed information on ingredient properties, whether they are man-made and/or of natural origin, in which types of products the ingredients can be found, etc… comes from independent experts and scientific assessments published by European and national expert bodies.