Ever heard of phenoxyethanol? It's a synthetic preservative that is used in natural beauty products as an alternative to traditional dangerous preservatives like parabens. As shown in this 1990 study published in the Journal of the American College of Toxicology, phenoxyethanol was originally deemed “safe as a cosmetic ingredient,” and was thought to be one of the best options for safer preservatives. However, recent research has shown that phenoxyethanol can be irritating to the skin and increase the risk of eczema and skin inflammations as well as have other complications.
As early as 2008, the FDA issued a warning for a nipple cream from brand Mommy’s Bliss that was formulated with phenoxyethanol and labeled the ingredient “potentially harmful.” Their research found that it can “depress the central nervous system and may cause vomiting and diarrhea of nursing babies, which can lead to dehydration in infants.”
Another study in 2009 found that an aftershave containing phenoxyethanol caused contact dermatitis, and in 2015, French scientists supported this find with their own study that showed an ultrasound gel formulated with phenoxyethanol caused contact dermatitis in their patient.
Phenoxyethanol is naturally found in some substances like green tea but the ingredient used in cosmetics is usually lab created. As Dr. Sarah Villafranco, founder of Osmia, explains, “It’s made from a petrochemical called phenol, which gets treated with a carcinogenic substance called ethylene glycol.” This releases a chemical called 1,4-dioxane, a human carcinogen, which can contaminate the product. Furthermore, phenoxyethanol can contaminate ground water and “cause mutations in aquatic (and possible other) species.”
More conscientious clean beauty lines are transitioning to be 100% phenoxyethanol free and declaring that they no longer use this questionable ingredient. Once used as their choice preservative, they are moving to completely take it out of their formulations as new studies emerge about the harmful effects.
With new research showing the harmful side effects of phenoxyethanol, we do not carry products that contain this ingredients and will never bring in a brand that formulates with it.
Clean beauty is a constant learning ground as more research comes out regarding the safety of ingredients. At AILLEA, we strive to stay on top of new developments and regularly update our offerings to always provide the safest selection of clean beauty. We're proud to offer over 50 clean beauty brands that all free of phenoxyethanol and other harmful ingredients so that you can shop worry-free.
Thanks for posting this. I am always leery of preservatives that are chemically created for that very reason-how and what other substances were used to create this product? I discovered that with my family, buying products that don’t contain this phenoxyethanol, rid us of itchy, reddened and psoriasis bothered skin. But finding products that treat teen acne or rosacea, that don’t contain this preservative, is next to impossible. Every dermatologist and aesthetician you go to will try to sell you expensive products, all of which contain this ingredient. If you’re sensitive, then how can their products help? It’s frustrating. I just wish that companies would stick with using the more expensive and healthier natural preservatives, such as Vitamin E.