Rosemary an Antioxidant or Preservative?

Rosemary extract is a potent antioxidant and it is not a preservative meaning it cannot kill or prevent the growth of microbes. It is an antioxidant added into skin care formulations to increase antioxidant properties and also delay the rancidity of botanical oils. Personally, I think the confusion lies in the fact that Rosemary acts as a preservative in the sense that it helps preserve against the oxidation process.


Are substances that inhibit the oxidation process by reducing the number of free radical oxygen molecules that are released in biochemical reactions. They slow the formation of lipid peroxides and free radical oxygen forms, which damage cell membranes and other molecules. Examples include Vitamins C and E, Rosemary Extract, Carotenoids and Gum Benzoin.

The antioxidant activity depends on the content of carnosic acid and total di-terpenephenols. Ideally 25% di-terpenephenols (highest concentration) and 20% carnosic acid.

  • Rosemary is a natural antioxidant. 
  • It helps extend the shelf life of oils by preventing them from turning brown and going rancid.
  • It is not a preservative and will not prevent mold, yeast and/or fungal growth.
  • An antimicrobial botanical, rosemary offers powerful assistance in reducing acne redness and inflammation. 
  • Significant antioxidant benefits thanks to the activity of Carnosic Acid, Carnosol, and Rosmarinic acid.


A preservative can be both a naturally occurring or synthetically produced chemical that is added to cosmetic formulations to prevent the proliferation of microbes and the consequent decomposition of the formulation (product) through microbial growth or undesirable chemical changes. Preservatives are to protect you from bacteria fungus and yeast. Water containing cosmetics need to be correctly preserved so ensure they have a shelf life and are safe for you to apply to your skin. Simple. For more about Natural Preservations read my blog post "Why use preservatives in cosmetics?"

Aroma: Herbaceous, slightly woody, and balsamic.
Cultivation Method: Certified Organic CO2 extract of Rosemary leaves
Fragrance allergens: Linalool <0.1%, d-Limonene <0.2%
INCI: Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract


The Essential Oil (EO) of Rosemary offers therapeutic benefits, be sure to always source from a reputable retail company, don't be afraid to ask questions, have their EO being tested for purity? adulterated EOs is a 'thing' and you have no idea what it may have been diluted with. I would recommend certified organic to help ensure sustainability. Essential oils are volatile, potent, concentrated plant compounds (aka chemicals!) and can be harmful if not used correctly, fortunately, a little goes a long way and if stored correctly can have a long shelf life:

  • Aids Memory,
  • Boosts Mental Activity,
  • Mentally stimulating,
  • Aids in stress management,
  • Reduces fatigue and burnout,
  • Helpful for symptoms of jetlag,
  • Energising,
  • Promotes confidence. 

Add some (drops) to an air humidifier or an essential oil diffuser and inhale...

Until next time.

Be human, be kind, be you





love letter









BOOK: Evidence-Based Essential Oil Therapy - Dr. Scott A Johnson (2015) 

BOOK: The Power of The Seed Susan M Parker (2014)

BOOK: Modern Cosmetics - Ingredients of A Natural Origin - A Scientific Review Vol. 1 (2018)

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