Current Microbiology

, Volume 60, Issue 4, pp 237–241 | Cite as

In Vitro Synergistic Activities of Essential Oils and Surfactants in Combination with Cosmetic Preservatives Against Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus

  • Vania Patrone
  • Raffaella Campana
  • Emanuela Vittoria
  • Wally Baffone


The aim of this study is to evaluate possible synergistic antimicrobial interactions between common cosmetic preservatives and selected essential oils or surfactants. The antimicrobial efficacy of six essential oils, three surfactants and five preservatives against Pseudomonas aeruginosa ATCC 9027 and Staphylococcus aureus ATCC 43387 was assessed by a broth micro-dilution assay. MICs for individual and combined antimicrobials were determined and then transformed to fractional inhibitory concentration (FIC) indexes. All essential oils exhibited antibacterial activity; among surfactants, bacteria resulted most susceptible to the cationic agent. Synergy was observed when essential oils of eucalyptus and mint were combined with methylparaben against P. aeruginosa, while essential oils of mint, oregano and sage combined with propylparaben and imidazolidinyl urea acted against S. aureus. Many binary mixtures of preservatives and surfactants produced synergistic activity with the most effective interactions involving the cationic and amphoteric compounds under study. FIC indexes demonstrated synergistic effects when preservatives were combined with either essential oils or surfactants against both bacterial strains. These results highlight the potential usefulness of essential oils and surfactants to enhance the activities of conventional biocides. This kind of study should contribute to the selection and optimization of preservative systems for cosmetic preparations.


Surfactant Eucalyptus Methylparaben Fractional Inhibitory Concentration Fractional Inhibitory Concentration Index 
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We thank the Istituto di Botanica and Orto Botanico “Pierina Scaramella”, University of Urbino “Carlo Bo”, Urbino, Italy, for providing the essential oils used in this work.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Vania Patrone
    • 1
  • Raffaella Campana
    • 1
  • Emanuela Vittoria
    • 1
  • Wally Baffone
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biomolecular Science, Division of Toxicological, Hygienic and Environmental ScienceUniversity of Urbino “Carlo Bo”UrbinoItaly

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