Potassium Sorbate Debate

In today’s post, I’m going to detail the good, the bad, and the ugly about a common cosmetics ingredient: potassium sorbate (or PS as it will be referred to it in this article.)

This ingredient comes with a bit of confusion. It’s in many personal care products such as lotions, shampoos, cleansers, and more. It’s also commonly found in foods…but is it safe?

Potassium Sorbate

First, let’s take a look at what potassium sorbate really is. Here’s the definition from Wikipedia:

“Potassium sorbate is the potassium salt of sorbic acid, chemical formula C6H7KO2. Its primary use is as a food preservative (E number 202).[3] Potassium sorbate is effective in a variety of applications including food, wine, and personal care products.”


It ‘s a substance naturally found in berries but now for the most part is of chemical origin.


The primary function of PS is to inhibit mold and fungus while preserving the purity of the product. In my research, I found that PS is not strong enough to inhibit bacteria so it’s used in combination with other preservatives.


The Good


PS is considered a much safer preservative than parabens. We all know how parabens mimic hormones in the body, so avoiding products with parabens is a must.


It’s used in many natural products whose formulators want to avoid parabens, the more widespread preservative used in most commercial cosmetics.


PS has been found to be non-irritating (except to the most sensitive skin), non-sensitizing, and non-mutagenic.


There’s been no ill effects found from long term use…so far, seems pretty good, right? What’s the bad news?


The Bad


The Cosmetics Database rates it as low hazard, with slight concerns about its potential as a carcinogen, neurotoxicity, and endocrine disruption.

The negative effects of potassium sorbate are hard to find.

Such limited data suggests this compound needs further study.


So Should You Avoid it?


It all depends on personal preference. If you are the sort of person who likes to avoid any synthetic ingredient in your cosmetics (like me) then I would say avoid it. Many of us make our own formulas and have no problems avoiding PS. However, if you’re the kind of person who doesn’t like to DIY and your favorite natural moisturizer has PS in it, don’t sweat it.


The most important thing I found in preparing this article is that more research is needed about potassium sorbate. I am the sort of person who errs on the side of caution. I will avoid it in my products and my food, for that matter! Any chance of toxicity is too big a risk for me. Check out the video below for a doctor’s take on PS.


Now it’s your turn!


Do you avoid potassium sorbate in your cosmetics and food? If so, why?


Do you have any useful info on potassium sorbate that I didn’t cover in this article?


Please share your thoughts using the Facebook Comments section below. :)


Stay natural…stay beautiful…go green!

P.S. Good news! You can now save $5 off your order and get free shipping over $25 at Real Purity! (Just click the link to browse, shop, and save!)

P.P.S. When you order with Real Purity, you also get a boatload of free samples! One of my favorite products is the Creme Supreme….it’s the best facial cream ever!

Robin started her career as an educator of children and has now become an educator for adults everywhere who want to know the truth about what they put into their bodies through the skin. She is passionate about educating people to make better health and beauty choices.
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  • http://my-phoneshop.dk Leslie Harmond

    When looking at labels, I particularly avoid anything with parabens and phthalates, and don’t look out for potassium sorbate. But I guess I wouldn’t mind having it in some of my purchases.

  • Gordon

    Although it is good to be extra careful in choosing the right products, being too “panicky” will surely limit the number of items I can buy. I’ll just try to limit the use of the products in question.
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  • http://www.tanyasimage.com/ Tanya

    Well, I guess cosmetic products with PS is still safe for me and I guess I wouldn’t avoid it.. But thanks for sharing this information, it really gives me a lot of idea about PS..

  • kalexa1

    I’ve found that in products like aloe vera gel (I suspect) it causes the gel to leave an ashy/matte residue in hair, so the overall result is actually more drying and mattifying than glossing. Annoyingly frustrating, as I’d really like to use aloe vera gel without having to make my own fresh each time.