What You Should Know About Phenoxyethanol in Skin and Hair Care Products

Phenoxyethanol, produced by the hydroxymethylation of phenol, is used as a preservative in soap, perfume, and in cosmetic products.

Phenoxyethanol Uses

It is often found in fragrance, deodorants, shaving cream, bar and liquid soap, baby lotions, nail polish, lotion, lip balm, hair spray, hair color, hand cream, body wash, lip gloss, mascara, sunscreen products, eye shadow, moisturizers, and dozens more skin and hair care products.

The essence of Phenoxyethanol is to limit bacterial growth. It is an alternative to the formaldehyde-releasing preservative, and its use in any cosmetic products is pegged at 1% or below. Phenoxyethanol is effective against yeast, gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria.

In addition, it is used to stabilize components found in soaps and in perfume.

Phenoxyethanol Side Effects

Anaphylaxis, hives, and eczema

Eczema may occur if you use more than 1% of phenoxyethanol in your skincare products. While anaphylaxis and other life-threatening reactions are rare.


A mixture of Phenoxyethanol with paraben may aggravate further the side effects than using Phenoxyethanol alone.

Vomiting and Diarrhea

Phenoxyethanol may cause breastfeeding infants to lose appetite and make them vomit. Others may have diarrhea. So, it is best you do away with any infant products containing Phenoxyethanol.

Phenoxyethanol Precaution

If you are allergic to phenoxyethanol, ensure you read the product ingredient list thoroughly before buying. While phenoxyethanol is regarded as a safe preservative, it doesn’t dispute the fact that some people may find it as a nightmare ingredient,

Also, NEVER have any of it in your baby’s skincare…and even hair care…products.

If you experience any life-threatening reactions, please see your doctor.

Throughout my DIY guide (Please see the DIY section of this blog) we’ll be using phenoxyethanol as our preservative.

That’s it on Phenoxyethanol. I hope I am able to answer one or two of your questions. Thanks for reading.