Namely Phenoxyethanol is a synthetic preservative known by the acronym of EGPhE, widely used in cosmetics and increasingly controversial. Specifically, it’s created by treating phenol with ethylene oxide in an alkaline medium which all reacts to form a pH-balanced ingredient. (Definitely avoid beauty products containing both ingredients at the same time.). Any retail cosmetic product sold to a consumer has some sort of preservative or a preservative system. Phenoxyethanol can be found in a variety of rinse-off and leave-on products: Moisturizers, eyeshadows, mascaras, foundation, sunscreens, shampoos, conditioners, styling gels, lip products, soap, fragrances, or typically any water-based personal care product. [1][2][3] . With what you know now, do you think you want to use products with phenoxyethanol? CosmeticsInfo.org describes phenoxyethanol as “an oily, slightly sticky liquid with a faint rose-like scent.”. Interesting uses for phenoxyethanol include being a fixative, solvent, topical anesthetic and, in small quantities, a component of certain vaccines. Another preservative used in cosmetics and hair care products. Others argue that it’s simply a skin irritant that affects different people at different levels. It is used as a preservative in a wide variety of both leave-on and rinse-off cosmetics and personal care products, including skin care, eye makeup, fragrances, blushers, foundations, lipstick, … I would love to consult with you as well. I'm Irina Webb, the trusted non-toxic consumer product researcher. Phenoxyethanol is a clear liquid with a faint rose scent (which is why it is sometimes referred to as ‘rose ether’). The European Commission on Health and Food Safety. What Type of Products is it in: Sunscreen, facial products, scrubs, moisturizers, body wash, mascara. There is a lot of research about bacteria in general and in cosmetic products in particular. To identify it in our products, take a look at the ingredients list on packaging. You've likely noticed the growing popularity of "paraben-free" products in recent years and if you've spent enough time looking at product labels, you might have even noticed an ingredient called phenoxyethanol included instead. 3, 26 In humans, no local or systemic effects were observed after the use of phenoxyethanol on injured skin: patients with superficial wounds or with burns. The Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology depicts another outbreak case of a fungal infection induced by a compromised skin lotion. Finally I found out this was the culprit. However, this report notes that using several products all containing a low dose could result in overexposure. The article recommends doctors employ a patch test before use. One 2008 study on 30 human subjects with inflammatory acne showed that after six weeks of twice-daily applications, more than half of the subjects saw a 50 percent improvement in their number of pimples. All forms of phenol may cause irritation. The study concluded that the commercial products did not meet the standards for microbial limits and the products can negatively impact the health of consumers. Although phenoxyethanol starts with phenol, phenol has almost no use in cosmetics. An expert panel from The Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) first reviewed all available data on this chemical in 1990. The results? The common substitutes for phenoxyethanol are sodium benzoate, ethylhexylglycerin, or leuconostoc/radish root ferment filtrate. I asked the manufacturer about this and was assured that the soap was safe due to the type of water used to create it (distilled water) and because the ph of the soap is over 9. It’s often used as a preservative or stabilizer for other ingredients that might otherwise deteriorate, spoil, or become less effective too quickly. The FDA currently allows the use of this ingredient in cosmetics, and as an indirect food additive. So, despite its widespread use over many years, contact allergy to this preservative has been very rarely described. They include formaldehyde-releasing preservatives, parabens (which can disrupt the endocrine system) and methylisothiazolinone, a common allergen. It’s not uncommon, but it can be a sign of an underlying condition that needs medical…. Hi Natalia: I ordered this one and have been using it for 4 days now. What other skin care products do you use? I apparently have been using a product that contains Phenoxyethanol and I’m not allergic. It is effective against various Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacteria, as well as against yeasts, and has only a weak inhibitory effect … Phenoxyethanol is commonly used in the ingredient listed as "fragrance" and also used as a preservative. They either do not disclose the broad-spectrum preservatives they use or do not use a sufficient preservation system. Just some things to think about. 7. What it is: Phenoxyethanol can be found naturally in green tea, but the commercial ingredient is synthetically produced in a laboratory creating what’s termed a “nature identical” chemical. Let me know what you think. Not only a preservative, it also acts as a solvent - blending well with other ingredients. EDTA) of a product I’m already sensitive to would be worse. ~Irina. Now check your email to confirm your subscription. Synthetic Fragrance If most of the products (or even all of them) contain phenoxyethanol, the concentration of this preservative that is absorbed by the skin daily may exceed the recommended 1% concentration. One patient had lesions in the eye and kidney as a result of the infection and two patients sadly died. A look at phenoxyethanol from EWG’s Skin Deep standpoint. Phenoxyethanol, also called Ethylene Glycol Monophenyl Ether, is a preservative with antibacterial properties. Thank you for letting me know, Misha. As it becomes more common across a wide span of products while methylisothiazolinone is being phased out I wonder if we will see the rates of sensitization increase. Im yet to find a moisturiser in my price range without phenoxyethanol. This hair care products do not contain phenoxyethanol: https://ireadlabelsforyou.com/hairprint-shampoo-review/ Here you will find more shampoos without phenoxyethanol: https://ireadlabelsforyou.com/2016-affordable-shampoos/ And I am always on a lookout for products that are well preserved without phenoxyethanol and update my blog subscribers on my findings. Thus, they may be a potential health hazard to unsuspecting consumers. Some argue that these bad reactions are the result of allergies in the test subjects. This microbiological study analyzes health risks and the efficacy of preservative systems in cosmetic products during their use by consumers. While writing this article, I decided to check my own bathroom vanity for phenoxyethanol. I am looking forward to hear from you! Looking at phenoxyethanol on EWG Skin Deep, we see it’s getting a score of 4 – but it’s getting that rating because as a stand-alone ingredient, it’s an irritant to skin, eyes and lungs. Many manufacturers found this chemical as a suitable alternative to paraben as it was easy to obtain and inexpensive too. The FDA even warned that phenoxyethanol can cause shut down of the central nervous system, vomiting and contact dermatitis. I, too, am not a huge fan of phenoxyethanol or just about anything else that even sounds chemical; however, I do know how just a minor cut or open pimple can be dangerous if one is using an “all natural” skin product that has not been preserved safely. ~Irina. You might see this ingredient listed in a few ways: You can find phenoxyethanol as an ingredient in a wide variety of cosmetics and hygiene products, including: Perhaps most famously in the public consciousness, it was used in Mommy Bliss brand nipple cream. It’s often used in even lower amounts, such as when combined with other ingredients like ethylhexylglycerin. Deciding whether or not you want to use products with this chemical is a complicated decision. The other is a child’s shampoo, the Bioskin Junior Shampoo, which is for younger scalps prone to eczema and dryness. They claim that this information is a “trade secret” or “proprietary information.”   Alternatively, they claim that they do not need any preservatives. To check out products that do not contain phenoxyethanol and yet their preservation system is robust, please visit my Shop. On my blog, you will find only formaldehyde-free product suggestions. They use phenoxyethanol and ethylhexylglycerin preservatives, in place of the dreaded isothiazolinones, and have an MI-free policy across all … Phenoxyethanol is a very common preservative that became even more popular after parabens fell from grace in the last decade. As a glycol ether, it can also be used as a solvent … In 2007, the panel reviewed newly available data, then confirmed their former decision that it’s safe for adults to use topically in very low concentrations. When you hear that products with water in them contain no preservatives, you should probably run! It is also used as a fragrance stabiliser. It would be nice if Skin Deep would do a better job of explaining that their scores are related to the stand-alone ingredient. Replies to my comments They are made in UK and certified organic by Soil Association and all their ingredients are compliant with COSMOS/ECOCERT European certification. Exposure to phenoxyethanol has been linked to reactions ranging from eczema to severe, life-threatening allergic reactions. They will be flushed and then red bumps will appear with itching and stinging. Phenoxyethanol isn’t a “bad” skincare ingredient. Hi, Katie: look around my website. While pain caused by hot or cold foods could be a sign of a cavity, it’s also common in people who have sensitive teeth. They use phenoxyethanol and ethylhexylglycerin preservatives, in place of the dreaded isothiazolinones, and have an MI-free policy across all their products, which include conditioners. To identify it in our products, take a look at the ingredients list on packaging. Phenoxyethanol is produced by ethoxylation (a highly polluting chemical process) by reacting phenol and ethylene oxide at high temperature and pressure. It may also contain the residue of carcinogenic ethylene oxide. All rights reserved. One of the offending ingredients is phenoxyethanol. Here’s a list of products that are likely to contain phenoxyethanol: Moisturizers, toners, serums I have ruled out all other ingredients since this is the ONLY ingredient that all of the products I react to contain in common (hard as this is to believe). I think particularly for me, I am reacting to products that absorb better into the skin or are used as direct skin barrier as opposed to make up. Phenoxyethanol, also known as ethylene glycol monophenyl ether, is a clear, oily liquid with a faint floral odor. Polysorbates are a class of emulsifiers derived from ethoxylated … Preservatives like phenoxyethanol may be necessary to give beauty products a long shelf-life. One baby died from meningitis and septicaemia infections. May I ask how you became so knowledgeable and what motivates you to spend your time writing such a long comment? Cerave Foaming Cleanser; COSRX Low pH Good Morning Cleanser When there is water in a cosmetic product, it needs a broad-spectrum preservation system. Most of the concern stems from recorded incidents of bad skin reactions and nervous system interaction in infants. Learn how your comment data is processed. Do not use without first reading the precautions on the website and packaging. It is also commonly used in bactericides, solutions that are used to kill bacteria without harming other substances. It has several benefits and uses, but it's also…, It may surprise the average consumer to know that skincare products — with their immaculate package designs, breathless marketing campaigns, and…, Most of the time, itchy lips are related to allergies. But nowadays you can also find products with more natural preservatives. The FDA even warned that phenoxyethanol can cause shut down of the central nervous system, vomiting and contact dermatitis. We won't send you spam. Do you know that Target recently removed it from their baby wipes? It can be found in a range of products including skincare, body care, shampoos, makeup, as well as vaccines and other medical supplies. Further details: Phenoxyethanol is stable up to 85°C (185°F)and is soluble in most oils. Phenoxyethanol is a newer glycol used in the skincare industry. Specifically, it’s created by treating phenol with ethylene oxide in an alkaline medium which all reacts to form a pH-balanced ingredient. My recommendation is as follows. I even have to wear gloves using baby wipes on my 12 month old, just placing a finger on a wet wipe containing phenoxyethanol my hands will be covered in blisters in the next 24 hours.. You can decide whether you’d like to keep or banish it from your personal care products arsenal. It can be found in a range of products including skincare, body care, shampoos, makeup, as well as vaccines and other medical supplies. Phenoxyethanol is mainly found in dermatological and pha… It is used to help preserve the integrity of products and prevent bacterial contamination. The problem with Phenoxyethanol is that you do have to use higher amounts to do the job, and since it smells like roses, it may be hard to cover up the scent (if you aren't wanting your product to smell rosy) [Hunting (Shampoo) pg 317-318]. Infant oral exposure to phenoxyethanol can … Phenoxyethanol is considered a “glycol ether.” I’m still trying to read up more about phenoxyethanol and I’m really glad I came across this article and this website. Yet, some of my clients use products with it, as it is a safer option for them considering other factors, explained below. Success! How long have been using hyaluronic acid and what improvements did you notice? Interesting uses for phenoxyethanol include being a fixative, solvent, topical anesthetic and, in small quantities, a component of certain vaccines. Is Phenoxyethanol petroleum based? This preservative is even contained in very minimal ingredient products, making it easier for me to identify the issue. Shampoo; Conditioner; Precautions. I get both of them from my naturopath… Looking forward to your opinion, Hi Julia, thank you for your suggestions! The evidence is mixed. Cosmetic grade phenoxyethanol is normally 98% pure. One newly emerged skincare company, for instance, even told me they do not need a cosmetic preservative because they use Miron glass bottles. There are dermatology journal articles that list this ingredient as a known cause of contact dermatitis. [3] That being said, individuals often use more than 5 different personal care products (including toothpaste, perfume, and shampoo). ~Irina. Would this be considered safe or should I be concerned? In 2013, many European cosmetics companies agreed to remove methylisothiazolinone from leave-on skin products, including cosmetic wet wipes. In any case, by law, phenoxyethanol is still allowed in baby wipes! euxyl K® 400, a mixture of Phenoxyethanol and 1,2-dibromo-2,4-dicyanobutane, considering using on a child under 3-years old. Phenoxyethanol is an organic compound used as a preservative and sometimes as a disinfectant in dog shampoo. Because it is conditioning, Phenoxyethanol may be found more often in conditioners or cosmetics, or shampoos meant to be moisturizing. If you have resolved, like me, to avoid them, you have probably noticed two things. There is not much information on whether this cosmetic preservative may cause a skin reaction. Don't subscribe Like shampoo, conditioner suffers from many of the same problems when it comes to surfactants, preservatives, and fragrance, but it has one more problematic ingredient category, emulsifiers. Phenoxyethanol is inactivited by highly ethoxylated compounds including polysorbates so do not use with surfactants. When combined with another chemical, some evidence indicates that it’s effective at reducing acne. I got it today and am very excited to try it. I’m all about less can be so much better for our health. Phenoxyethanol is an oily, slightly sticky liquid with a faint rose-like scent. We’ll review the most relevant scientific research about this common cosmetics ingredient. Because of its antimicrobial properties, it’s primarily used as a preservative in cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. Chemically, phenoxyethanol is known as a glycol ether, or in other words, a solvent. You should avoid this chemical if you’re: The risks outweigh the possible benefits in those cases. These 10 Skin Care Claims Are Meaningless — Here’s What to Buy Instead, High Systolic Blood Pressure: What to Know, What to Do When You or Someone You Know May Have Breathed in Too Much Smoke, Recognizing the Symptoms of Facet Arthropathy. In perfume, phenoxyethanol is used as a fixative. Phenoxyethanol Another preservative used in cosmetics and hair care products. Besides, our doctors may have no training at reading product ingredients. In addition, I don’t like the idea of exposure to carcinogenic and dangerous substances of the workers and the environment. This article focuses on its role in topical cosmetics. Despite what we may read on the Internet (blogs, personal opinions, etc.) It was really *really* interesting. If you are not allergic to phenoxyethanol, you might be better off using products with it over those that either do not list broad-spectrum preservatives or do not use them at all. Thank you so much for all your valuable research! I am a budding Herbal Apprentice and am in the midst of creating a product, similar to one already made—without all of the awful stuff. There is an alarming problem with many manufacturers. In short, phenoxyethanol is a preservative. Phenoxyethanol is a preservative used in many cosmetics and personal care products. Thank you! I hear from a lot of people that they are allergic to it. With this easy unprecendented method, you will be able to spot potentially harmful personal care or skincare products that may cause irritation, an allergic reaction, or increase the risk of endocrine disruption or cancer. But is it safe? It revealed that most of the evaluated creams and lotions did not meet the official requirements. It is also used as a perfume fixative, insect repellent, antiseptic, and others. Also, the American Society of Contact Dermatitis lists phenoxyethanol as one of its core allergens, even in concentrations as low as 1%: You are right that it is made of 1 mole of ethylene oxide on 1 mole of phenol. Phenoxyethanol might be shown as a 4 on the EWG Skin Deep, but once it is blended it into the mix of other ingredients (which might all score as a 1) the overall product becomes a 1. But again, not many of us report allergic reactions to our doctors. In medical literature, I was able to find one case of an allergic reaction to phenoxyethanol. (Think persistent rash that takes WEEKS to clear up without steroids -even if I only come in contact with it for a couple of minutes and rinse it off). Phenoxyethanol is created by treating phenol with ethylene oxide in an alkaline medium. Instead of removing oils to the point of having a ‘squeaky clean’ scalp, think of redistributing oil to the hair ends through gentle scalp massage and brushing with a natural bristle brush, from roots to ends,” she explains. So when you read a negative review of phenoxyethanol and they specifically call out “phenol”, you can assume the author does not understand the science and facts involved in the basic chemistry. The American Society of Contact Dermatitis lists phenoxyethanol as one of its core allergens. Thank you for your work! Phenoxyethanol is commonly used as a preservative in cosmetic products to limit the growth of bacteria. I noticed through the years I couldn’t use certain products within the Burts Bees, Kiel’s, and Aveeno lines. Despite what you might read on the Internet, there are no findings that phenoxyethanol is an endocrine disruptor. But sometimes, itchy lips are a symptom of a less common health condition. Bacteria are dangerous, especially for people with compromised immune systems and for babies whose immune systems have not matured yet. But nowadays you can also find products with more natural preservatives. Dangerous Chemicals in Conditioners. https://www.bellaallnatural.com/blogs/learn/ingredients-shampoo-hair-loss Knowledge is a great power! This cosmetic preservative is much better than some of its alternatives. What do some companies mean when they claim that their phenoxyethanol is natural and plant-derived? I'm on a mission to help you make informed and practical decisions about products you buy. Fortunately, several very effective treatments are…, Do you have what appears to be a pimple in your throat? Greater than the minimum safe limit not provide medical advice, diagnosis, other! 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A patch test before use please visit my Shop by Valenti Organics or Annmarie as the major other part and... Oral exposure to phenoxyethanol can … what is it in our products preservatives avoid! The road ” preservative email address will never be shared or sold a newer used... The problem might be more widespread than has been reported to date 1 ] [ ]. Ewg has only a preservative to prevent products from losing their potency or.! Leuconostoc/Radish root ferment filtrate area and can also act as a quaternary ammonium compound, a solvent you make and... A list of preservatives to avoid phenoxyethanol oily liquid with a faint floral.... Study compared the microbial qualities and the efficacy of preservative or a preservative phenoxyethanol in shampoo in many cosmetics and pharmaceuticals repellent... You are a symptom of a less common health condition safe or should I be concerned with twisting,,! 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