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Phenoxyethanol, an aromatic ether, has a lightly sticky liquid and a faint rose-like scent. The purpose of phenoxyethanol is to avoid bacteria growth and fungi breakout in products which may be harmful to us.

Phenoxyethanol is mostly used as a stabilizer and/or preservative in products and can be found naturally in green tea. However, the commercial ingredient is synthetically produced in a laboratory, creating what’s termed a “nature identical” chemical.

It has been approved by the Soil Association for use in organic cosmetics and is widely used in natural skincare.

Phenoxyethanol can easily be found in perfumes, hair sprays, baby lotions, baby wipes, mascara, foundation, eyeliner, lip gloss, shampoo, deodorants, shaving creams, sunscreen etc. It can also be found in household cleaning products such as laundry detergent, stain remover, multi-surface sprays etc.

According to Cynthia Cobb from Healthline,

In perfumes, fragrances, soaps, and cleansers, phenoxyethanol works as a stabilizer. In other cosmetics, it’s used as an antibacterial and/or a preservative to prevent products from losing their potency or spoiling.”

Although this chemical is used to avoid bacterial growth and fungi breakout in products, it should not be used in high concentration. According to CosmeticsInfo, a concentration below 1% is considered safe to be used to preserve the potency and avoid bacteria growth that may negatively harm the body.

The European Commission on Health, and Food Safety and Japan have also restricted the usage of Phenoxyethanol to be under 1%.

A higher concentration of Phenoxyethanol may cause skin irritation, trigger eczema, causes reproductive toxicity; developmental toxicity (i.e., potential harm to developing fetus); skin irritation and sensitization (allergic skin reactions); skin penetration; and metabolism in the body.

That said, even if Phenoxyethanol is used in low concentration, it may cause allergic reactions to those with sensitive or problematic skin. It is not recommended for infants to use products that contain Phenoxyethanol as it may potentially cause developmental toxicity.

Phenoxyethanol is also known as:

  • Euxyl K® 400 (a mixture of Phenoxyethanol and 1,2-dibromo-2,4-dicyanobutane)
  • PhE
  • 2-HYDROXYETHYL PHENYL ETHER
  • 2-PHENOXY- ETHANOL
  • 2-PHENOXYETHANOL
  • 2-PHENOXYETHYL ALCOHOL
  • ETHANOL, 2-PHENOXY-
  • ETHANOL, 2PHENOXY
  • ETHYLENE GLYCOL MONOPHENYL ETHER
  • PHENOXYTOL
  • HYDROXY-2-PHENOXYETHANE
  • FENOXYETHANOL (CZECH)

In conclusion, we must be cautious when using products that contain Phenoxyethanol. Be an informed consumer when you are purchasing your cosmetics or baby products.

 

References:

Phenoxyethanol

https://www.healthline.com/health/phenoxyethanol#Possible-health-concerns

https://www.mhlw.go.jp/file/06-Seisakujouhou-11120000-Iyakushokuhinkyoku/0000032704.pdf https://blog.honest.com/what-is-phenoxyethanol/ https://www.cosmeticsinfo.org/ingredient/phenoxyethanol-0 https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.3109/10915819009078737 https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ingredient/704811/PHENOXYETHANOL/ https://www.beautybible.com/green-pages/a-to-z-of-ingredients/p

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