Phenoxyethanol is a preservative used in cosmetics and personal care products.
It is effective at a broad range of pH values, and is not a formaldehyde-releasing agent. It is also non-reactive with other ingredients as well as with air and light.
What makes Phenoxyethanol a really popular ingredient in the cosmetic industry is its faint rose-like smell that is very pleasant. From sunscreens and shampoos to mascara and hair sprays – it is found in almost every product.
It is a biocide that is most active against Gram-negative bacteria. It is generally used in combination with other preservatives, in part because its activity is weak against yeast and mold.
Can be combined with Potassium Sorbate between 0.1-0.2% to cover for yeast and mold.
Phenoxyethanol can be used in combination with natural antioxidants such as tocopherol (vitamin E), Azadirachta indica (Neem extract), Rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary) or rooibos extract.
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Phenoxyethanol is stable up to 85°C (185°F) and has useful activity from pH 3 to 10.
Phenoxyethanol is soluble in most oils.
It is also soluble in water from 0.5 to 2.67 grams per 100 grams of water.
It is miscible with propylene glycol and glycerin.
What is PHENOXYETHANOL used for?
Phenoxyethanol is used as an antibacterial ingredient or preservative to prevent cosmetic and skin care products from spoiling. It is also a stabilizer and is a common ingredient found in many products ranging from perfumes to shampoos.
- Skin care: If the skin care products are not preserved properly, they develop various kinds of bacteria and fungi that can be very harmful if used. For this very purpose, Phenoxyethanol ingredient is added. Apart from increasing the shelf life of many skin care products, it has been proven effective in reducing acne
- Hair care: In products like shampoos and conditioners, it is especially loved because of its mild rosy smell. It is helpful in stabilizing the products as it does not react with other ingredients and/or with light and air
- Cosmetic products: With increasing demand for paraben-free cosmetic products among health-conscious consumers, Phenoxyethanol has become a very popular preserving ingredient. If cosmetic products are not preserved properly, they turn very harmful to the skin and may cause irritation and many skin allergies. Moreover, in the infamous Phenoxyethanol vs. paraben fight, the former wins because it is much safe and gentler on the skin
Phenoxyethanol is used in perfumes as well in order to “fix” the fragrance.
The advantage of phenoxyethanol over other preservatives is that it is very stable, meaning that other ingredients, oxygen or light does not affect it. It has a broad spectrum that gives antibacterial protection. Many manufacturers of skin care products use phenoxyethanol, but often together with other preservatives. Often parabens.
However, there are brands that decide not to use parabens. They use phenyxyethanol in combination with natural preservatives like antioxidants from tocopherol (vitamin E), Azadirachta indica (Neem extract), Rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary) or rooibos extract. Sometimes a mixture of essential oils, potassium sorbate and citric acid is added. These are paraben-free alternatives for the synthetic preservatives and ensure durability of minimal 12 to 24 months.
By choosing natural preservatives in combination with phenoxyethanol, natural brands deliver safe, efficient and skin friendly products as well. Natural preservatives like antioxidants have, besides that they avoid the formation of bacteria in crème, an anti-aging effect as well.
Recommended dosage: 0,5% – 1%, (possibly in combination with pure vitamin E)