In the ingredient list for our Deep Hydration Conditioner, you will see the ingredient “rosemary extract” and wonder what it is used for, or what types of beneficial effects it would have for the hair. Rosemary extract is a very potent antioxidant, and we actually use it more as a preservative than anything else in our conditioner.
Since our conditioner has water in it, and sits in your shower where mold it is darker and often more moist for much of the day, we use rosemary extract to fight oxidation, or cell breakdown of many of the ingredients.
When the ingredients in a product oxidize the rosemary extract helps to keep the ingredients from spoiling. We do not use toxic preservatives like parabens or formaldehyde-producing preservatives.
The extract is especially helpful in preventing oils and fats from going rancid. Since our conditioner is comprised of several different types of moisture-infusing and protective oils, it is very helpful in this sense. A lot of the ingredients in our conditioner are actually “living” and that means they spoil over time. Hence the shorter shelf lives of our products than typical store-bought products.
How were the preservative effects of rosemary extract discovered?
As with most other things, there’s a little story behind how it was found that the extract of this popular spice plant could preserve fats. Initially it was found that it would enhance the flavor and texture of meats, and as a secondary use, it was also found that it happened to extend the shelf life of these meats as well.
This is due to a few different chemical components of rosemary extract which prevent the free radicals that naturally attack fats and oils (and water based products containing them) and break them down into rancidity from fully bonding to the particles, and therefore preventing breakdown.
Rosemary extract is pretty much odorless, and has a slightly yellowish hue in its raw state. Not very much of it is usually needed to lend a preservative hand to foods and/or cosmetic preparations. It’s not going to extend the life to the same degree as the more toxic chemical preservatives, but it certainly keeps it stable long enough for most people to use it up.