Fact vs Fiction: Phenoxyethanol

Phenoxyethanol – What is it? What does it do? Is it toxic? Is it safe?

You want answers and Nature’s Aid wants to give them to you. We don’t want to sugar coat anything. There have been concerns about phenoxyethanol and since it is a supporting ingredient in our skin gel, we want to address it. So here is the good, the bad and the necessary about this ingredient.

Although phenoxyethanol is found naturally in green tea and chicory, the cosmetic ingredient is synthetically derived. It is used as a preservative in water and plant based products because it is an effective and safe antimicrobial and a much more suitable alternative to parabens (which this ingredient has been replacing across the personal care industry).

The concerns over this product are due to limited research that has linked repeated exposure to phenoxyethanol, over prolonged periods of time, to contact dermatitis, increased symptoms of eczema, reproductive toxicity as well as neurotoxicity. Yes, we know that doesn’t sound good. Which is why we continued our research.

What we found is that while there have been some negative reports (such as above) around phenoxyethanol, it needs to be stressed that none of the available research data is conclusive. Further, it generally applies to exposure of phenoxyethanol either in isolation or in products containing high doses of the ingredient. Phenoxyethanol is approved in cosmetic products at the low dose of 1%. And here it is important to note that Nature’s Aid contains well below the recommended maximum of 1%.

There are those who claim other ingredients work just as well as phenoxyethanol but the answer is not nearly as simple as that. Those ingredients are either not strong enough to prevent bacteria from getting into water based products or these ‘natural’ alternatives are actually contaminated with worse ingredients, such as parabens. Take Grapefruit Seed Extract. It sounds wholesome and pure. But did you know that more often than not, it is blended with parabens? Probably not. Because companies do not need to list blended ingredients. So you would only see Grapefruit Seed Extract on the label.

We use phenoxyethanol because it plays an important role in preserving our water and plant based gel. Phenoxyethanol is considered one of the most effective preservatives on the market, is considered safe and has a low irritant rating, even in a dosage above what is used in Nature’s Aid.

With all that said, Nature’s Aid is always on the lookout for alternative ingredients. But until we find one that is safe and effective for our customers and our product, we cannot justify the change. We will keep you updated with our progress and in the meantime, please feel free to contact us with your questions.

Filed under: Natural Chemistry