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Phenoxyethanol for Skin : Uses & Features

by Rashi Bahel Mehra |

Imagine applying a skin care product on which you've spent thousands, just to find out it gets spoiled in a day or two! This will certainly happen if you use a preservative-free product. 

We're all aware of chemicals being added to stabilize skincare formulations & keep their efficacy in check. In this article, we will explore one such preservative "Phenoxyethanol" which gained rage quite recently when people became aware of using "paraben-free" products. Let's discover its use case, advantages, and disadvantages.

What is Phenoxyethanol?

Phenoxyethanol belongs to the class of glycol ethers. It is naturally derived (found in green tea and chicory) but usually chemically synthesized to use in skin care products. It inhibits the growth of microorganisms like bacteria, fungi, etc. Phenoxyethanol has a moisturizing oily texture. It makes sure your skin does not develop these microorganisms and in turn, does not develop any infection. It stabilizes the product and increases its shelf life. Phenoxyethanol generally goes well with all other skincare ingredients and actives and doesn't alter their efficacy and pH level. Plus, it is biodegradable! 


Preservation and Stability:

It is crucial in products that contain water, as they are more susceptible to microbial contamination. By incorporating phenoxyethanol, skincare brands can offer safe and stable products to consumers with increased shelf life.


Phenoxyethanol is known for its mildness on the skin. It has low skin irritancy potential and is considered safe for use even in sensitive skin types. This makes it an ideal choice for various skincare products, including cleansers, moisturizers, serums, and masks. Phenoxyethanol is well-tolerated by most individuals, reducing the risk of adverse reactions.



Another advantage of phenoxyethanol is its compatibility with a wide range of cosmetic ingredients. It can be used alongside other preservatives or antimicrobial agents, enhancing their efficacy. Furthermore, phenoxyethanol blends well with various solvents and oils, allowing formulators to create stable and luxurious skincare formulations. 

Broad-Spectrum Protection:

Phenoxyethanol offers broad-spectrum antimicrobial activity, effectively targeting a wide range of microorganisms. This property ensures the protection of cosmetic products from bacterial and fungal contamination. By preventing the growth of harmful microbes, phenoxyethanol helps maintain the integrity and safety of skincare products.



Other preservatives like formaldehyde & parabens tend to mimic estrogen and increase the chance of breast cancer. There are a lot of chemical preservatives that release or form formaldehyde; like glyoxal, sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, and polyoxymethylene urea. Formaldehyde is a very dangerous carcinogen that causes leukaemia, brain cancer, and rarer cancers. Phenoxyethanol is comparatively safer than these preservatives! Wait! Then what's the catch here?

The Question Still Arises! Is it safe to use?

Even if Phenoxyethanol is safer than parabens, it is still a preservative! Phenoxyethanol must not be used in infant/ baby products because babies tend to lick or suck the product. It develops acute nervous system effects in babies. Although studies show less concentration is safe even for those little munchkins why take any risk?

*A maximum concentration of 1% or less is considered safe when using Phenoxyethanol*


Things to Remember 

  • Might be mentioned on the label as 2-Phenoxyethanol, Euxyl-K 400, and PhE.
  • Always conduct a patch test before applying any product having Phenoxyethanol to check for allergies. 
  • It is suitable for all skin types but people who have sensitive skin, eczema, or rashes might develop an allergic reaction.
  • Make sure you use a skin care product manufactured by a credible brand.
  • If you develop any reaction please discontinue the usage. 


Final words

Phenoxyethanol is a safer preservative in comparison to other chemicals. It's all about concentration! Using a preservative-free product is much more harmful than using any preservative at all because then your skin would end up with a serious infection! When used appropriately and within recommended concentrations, phenoxyethanol makes a product stable, increases its shelf life, and saves it from the microorganism attack!


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