What is it used for:

Phenoxyethanol is used to preserve cosmetic products as well as to stabilize soaps and perfumes.


  • Allergy to Phenoxyethanol is low and it has been associated with anaphylaxis in only several cases in the literature.
  • Despite some claims that may circulate online, it is not associated with hormone disruption.
  • There have been reported exposures in infants that adversely affected the nervous system function.
  • Phenoxyethanol is a rare cause of allergic reactions in skincare. It is also not particularly irritating. With ongoing worries about parabens, and methyisothiazolinone and formaldehyde preservatives being used less, we are running out of options for preservatives. This is why at this time we think phenoxyehtanol is a better option.

Good to know:

The European Economic Community (ECC) Cosmetic Derivative and Cosmetics Regulation of the European Union approved phenoxyethanol in concentrations up to one percent. [5][6] These committees are much better at regulating what goes into skincare than what’s available in North America.

Key takeway:

If you are not allergic, phenoxyethanol is a relatively safe preservative.

This article has been kindly contributed by Dr. Sandy Skotnicki, author of “Beyond Soap” - see her blog for more info.