Phenoxyethanol is a synthetic ether alcohol, and usually appears in the form of a colourless oily liquid with a mild rose-balsamic aroma. We use this ingredient in some of our products as a preservative, keeping them stable and working at their best.
Phenoxyethanol is a synthetic chemical produced for industry, however it can be found naturally in some plants, including onions and endives. It's used in many personal care products for its low toxicity, and as an alternative to parabens. Bacteria, yeast and mould typically thrive in the watery environment of these products, but the addition of a small amount of phenoxyethanol can help control and prevent the growth of these microbes. Though it is among the least sensitising preservatives of its kind available, a small percentage of people can still be sensitive to this ingredient on their skin. We use this ingredient with care at very low concentrations, to achieve performance while prioritising safety.
Phenoxyethanol was assessed by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) Expert Panel in 1990, with a follow-up analysis in 2011. They reviewed its safety for dermal exposure in cosmetics and concluded it is “safe in cosmetics in the present practices of use and concentration described in this safety assessment.” It's also listed by the European Chemical Agency (ECHA) as being readily biodegradable, with low potential for bioaccumulation or aquatic toxicity.
Other names: C8H10O2, 2-Phenoxyethanol, 2-Phenoxyethyl Alcohol, Phenoxytol
Chemical class: Alcohols, Ethers
Final Report on the Safety Assessment of Phenoxyethanol. (1990). Journal of the American College of Toxicology, 9(2), 259–277. https://doi.org/10.3109/10915819009078737
Andersen, F. A. (2011). Annual Review of Cosmetic Ingredient Safety Assessments: 2007-2010. International Journal of Toxicology, 30(5_suppl), 73S-127S. https://doi.org/10.1177/1091581811412618
Dréno, B., Zuberbier, T., Gelmetti, C., Gontijo, G., & Marinovich, M. (2019). Safety review of phenoxyethanol when used as a preservative in cosmetics. Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology : JEADV, 33 Suppl 7, 15–24. https://doi.org/10.1111/jdv.15944
European Chemicals Agency (2022). 2-phenoxyethanol. EC number: 204-589-7 | CAS number: 122-99-6. https://echa.europa.eu/registration-dossier/-/registered-dossier/15160/6/1
National Center for Biotechnology Information (2022). PubChem Compound Summary for CID 31236, 2-Phenoxyethanol. https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/2-Phenoxyethanol