Although some may say no preservatives are the best choice, here’s a list of the most popular natural preservatives used today. Some you might have heard of before, others you might have no idea what they could be used for.
Neem Oil – Neem is one of the most powerful oils on the market today. It has been used in India since the time of Sanskrit. Today it is recognized as an all around oil. It is anti-fungal, anti-bacterial as well as anti-protozoan and a spermicide.
Salt (sodium chloride) - most people have heard of Smithfield Hams. These hams can last forever because they are salt-cured. Salt has been used since ancient times particularly for meat, as a preservative. The salt enters the tissue and in effect binds the water, inhibiting the bacterium that causes spoilage. The salt restricts to tiny concentration and protects food from yeasts and molds. It draws out moisture and creates an environment inhospitable to bacteria.
Sugar (carbohydrates) - this organic compound, may be either refined (white) or raw (brown) and has a variety of names. It is used as a natural preservative inhibiting bacterial growth after food or products have been heated.
Lemon - it is part of the Rutaceae family also known as a citrus fruit. Lemons are grown in the milder regions and can be from 30 to 45 percent juice depending on type and climate. The acid produced mostly by the citrus and identified as C6H8O7 promotes preservation. The lemon is rich in Vitamin C and much like salt removes moisture to prevent spoilage and rotting.
Honey - is known for being highly stable against microbial growth because of it’s low moisture content and water activity, low pH and anti-microbial constituents.
Bee Propolis - is a mixture of beeswax and resins collected by the honeybee from plants, particularly flowers and leaf buds, it is used to line and seal the comb. The propolis is effective in protecting the hive offering both antibacterial and antifungal properties.
The Greeks and Romans used propolis to heal skin abscesses and through the centuries its use in medicine has received varying attention. The ancient Egyptians also knew its’ benefits and it is still used in Africa today, as a medicine, an adhesive for tuning drums, sealing cracked water containers or canoes and dozens of other purposes.
Rosemary Extract - helps against aging processes, such as browning, thickening and wrinkling; and melanoma and other skin cancers are thought to be accelerated by the accumulation of peroxides in the skin tissues. These peroxides are produced by environmental factors such as heat and ultra-violet radiation from sunlight, a primary cause of sunburn and melanoma. In a study conducted to test photoprotectivity, it was discovered that Carnosic acid (found in Rosemary) did protect the skin from UV damage.  This evidence is further corroborated in expired US patents 5,358,752, which show in the examples complete elimination of peroxides as a result of UVB radiation. Rosemary also has a history of anti-bacterial and anti-microbial applications. One study found it to be effective against HIV-1 
Grapefruit Seed Extract : A natural antibiotic, antiseptic, disinfectant and preservative. It is used to promote the healing of almost any atypical skin condition. According to published sources it is effective against more than 800 bacterial and viral organisms, 100 strains of fungus, and a large number of single-cell and multi-celled parasites. This preservative is used by many handcrafters in products that contain water.
Citric acid - t’s an acid, flavoring, chelating agent: ice cream, sherbet, fruit drink, candy, carbonated beverages, instant potatoes. It is versatile, widely used, cheap and safe. iT is an important metabolite in virtually all living organisms and is especially abundant naturally in citrus fruits and berries. It is used an a strong acid, a tart flavoring and an antioxidant.
Alpha tocopherol (also known as vitamin E) - it’s an antioxidant and nutrient. Vitamin E is abundant in whole wheat, rice germ, and vegetable oils. It is destroyed by the refining and bleaching of flour. Vitamin E is used because it prevents oils from going rancid. Recent studies indicate that large amounts of Vitamin E may help reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer. Be aware that there is a synthetic on the market called variously Tocopherol, Alpha Tocopherol and /or Tocopherol Acetate.
Potassium Sorbate - effectively preserves against mold and yeast, it is not useful for protecting products from bacteria. it is also not effective at all in products with a pH over 6, which most lotions are. While potassium sorbet is found in nature, any available today would have been synthetically made so it is not all-natural. It is also believed to cause contact dermatitis.
Natural preservatives are considered safer by many because they have always existed in nature and our immune systems are used to them. Most of the preservatives that come from a plant source are safe for humans. The main disagreement when it comes down to the use of natural preservatives in cosmetics is that they are not powerful enough. This may be true but, it does not mean that because of this more chemical or synthetic preservatives need to be used.