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What is it?

“Grapefruit seed extract (GSE), also known as citrus seed extract, is a liquid extract derived from the seeds, pulp, and white membranes of grapefruit.Self-made natural GSE processed in the laboratory without synthetic agents is prepared by grinding the grapefruit seed and juiceless pulp, then mixing with glycerin. Commercially available GSEs sold to consumers are made from the seed, pulp, glycerin (and in some cases synthetic preservatives) all blended together.”Wikipedia

What are the effects?

This substance belongs to the groups:

Citrus paradisi (grapefruit) seed extract, a variant of grapefruit seed extract, is restricted for use in cosmetics products in the European Union.

The panel from Cosmetic Ingredient Review has “expressed concern about pesticide residues, heavy metals, and other plant species that may be present in botanical ingredients”. Grapefruit seed extract is in included in those botanical ingredients that are vulnerable to impurities.

Many essential oils, including grapefruit seed oil, are considered furocoumarin-like substances. The Scientific Committee on Consumer Products (SCCP) writes that the total concentration of furocoumarin-like substances in finished cosmetic product must not exceed 1 ppm.
Even though it is not listed on the ingredient labels, products with grapefruit seed extract may also contain impurities from:

  • Paraben – linked to endocrine disruption, developmental toxicity, cancer and damaged fertility.
  • Triclosan – linked to bioaccumulation, endocrine disruption, and environmental hazard.
  • Furocoumarins – recognized as photomutagenic and photocarcinogenic, meaning they become dangerous,  matagenic or carcinogeninc , in visible or ultraviolet (UV) light.

How is it used?

Grapefruit seed extract is used as preservative, functioning anti-microbial (control the growth of micro-organisms on the skin) and anti-oxidative (hinders reactions from oxygen to avoiding oxidation and rancidity), in cosmetic products*. It is known to be very active against the growth of micro-organisms and can be found in a wide range of cosmetics. The substance can also function as a skin conditioning agent and tonic agent (creates a feeling of well-being on skin and hair) in products. Can be found in cosmetics like bath soaps and detergents, make up, baby products, suntan products, and hair products, to mention a few.

We use the European Commissions definition of Cosmetics:
“Cosmetics range from everyday hygiene products such as soap, shampoo, deodorant, and toothpaste to luxury beauty items including perfumes and makeup”.

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