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The Self-Preserving Glossary

Science talk made simple

The Self-Preserving Glossary

Acid: Has a pH below seven (lemon juice and vinegar are acids).

Alkali: Has a pH above seven (bleach and baking powder are alkalis).

Antibacterial: A substance that limits or prevents the growth of bacteria and suppresses their ability to reproduce.

Antifungal: A substance that limits or prevents the growth of yeasts and other fungal organisms.

Antimicrobial: A substance that limits or prevents the growth of microorganisms.

Bacteria: Plural form of bacterium. A member of a large group of microorganisms that have cell walls and can cause disease. Bacteria are also partly responsible for decay or decomposition alongside fungus.

Benzyl alcohol: A fragrance material that has preservative properties.

Chemical: A distinct substance or compound that can be purified or artificially created.

Chemical preservative: A man-made substance that prolongs a product’s shelf-life through antimicrobial action.

Cleansing agent: An ingredient used to remove dirt from a surface, within the context of cosmetics—skin or hair.

Dispersion: A mixture in which particles of one substance are scattered through another one.

Ecosystem: A complex community of interacting organisms and their physical environment.

Emulsion: A type of dispersion in which minute droplets of two liquids are chemically bonded together, for example, a mixture of oil and water (like mayonnaise).

Free water: Water that is chemically available for microorganisms.

Food chain: A series of organisms in a habitat, interrelated in their feeding habits, the smallest being fed upon by a larger one.

Formaldehyde: A colorless, strong-smelling chemical that is used as a preservative.

Formula: A product recipe.

Humectant: A substance that both attracts and retains moisture.

Methylisothiazolinone: An antimicrobial substance used to preserve cosmetics.

Methylparaben: One of the two parabens Lush uses to preserve cosmetics. Methylparaben is water soluble.

Microflora: The community of microorganisms, including algae, fungi, and bacteria, that live in or on another living organism or in a particular habitat.

Microbe/microorganism: A tiny, single-cell organism which can only be seen through a microscope.

Natural preservative: Ingredients found in nature that can help to keep a product fresh for longer.

Paraben: A synthetic chemical preservative used to keep food or products fresh.

pH: A scale to indicate the acidity or alkalinity of a solution. Zero is the most acidic, seven is neutral, and 14 is most alkaline.

Propylparaben: One of the two parabens Lush uses to preserve cosmetics. Propylparaben is oil soluble.

Preservative: A substance that is added to food and other products to keep them fresh longer.

Safe synthetic: An artificial substance deemed safe for use by health authorities, such as the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) in the U.S.

Self-preserving: An expertly balanced ingredient or formula that uses natural preservatives to keep itself clean.

Surfactant: A partly oil and water soluble substance that can remove oil-based dirt from the skin and hair by reducing the surface tension of a liquid and allowing it to foam.

Synthetic: A man-made substance.

Water activity: The energy status of water that is not chemically bound inside a product.

Water content: The amount of water in a substance.

Phenoxyethanol/2-phenoxyethanol: A synthetic preservative Lush uses to help products stay fresh for longer.

Viscous: A thick, sticky consistency somewhere between a solid and liquid.