Phenoxyethanol is a commonly used cosmetic preservative that is effective against a wide range of microorganisms, including bacteria, yeast, and mold. It is particularly effective in formulations with a pH between 4 and 8, making it suitable for preserving a wide range of cosmetic products. Some examples of cosmetic formulations that are often preserved with phenoxyethanol include:

      1. Moisturizers and lotions: These products typically have a neutral to slightly acidic pH and may contain a variety of ingredients such as oils, emulsifiers, and humectants.
      2. Sunscreens: These products typically have a pH of around 7 and contain a combination of chemical and physical sunscreens, as well as emulsifiers, thickeners, and other ingredients.
      3. Shampoos and conditioners: These products typically have a pH between 5 and 7 and contain a variety of ingredients such as surfactants, conditioning agents, and fragrances.
      4. Makeup products: Phenoxyethanol is often used to preserve makeup products such as foundations, lipsticks, and eyeliners. These products often have a pH between 4 and 7 and may contain a variety of other ingredients such as pigments, waxes, and oils.

Phenoxyethanol is effective in both oil-based and water-based cosmetic formulations, making it a versatile preservative. However, its efficacy can be influenced by other ingredients in the formula and the specific formulation.

      • In water-based formulations such as toners, lotions, and serums, phenoxyethanol is typically used as a primary preservative along with other preservatives to ensure broad-spectrum protection against microorganisms.
      • In oil-based formulations such as creams, ointments, and balms, phenoxyethanol can be used as a co-preservative to enhance the efficacy of other preservatives. It can be used in combination with oil-soluble preservatives such as benzyl alcohol or dehydroacetic acid to provide broad-spectrum protection against microbial growth.

According to the International Journal of Cosmetic Science, phenoxyethanol is effective in concentrations as low as 0.5% in water-based formulations and is stable at a pH range between 4 and 8. It is considered safe for use in cosmetics at concentrations up to 1% by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review Expert Panel (CIR) and is approved for use in cosmetic products in the US, EU, and Japan.

According to a study published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, phenoxyethanol at concentrations of 1% or lower was effective in controlling

Phenoxyethanol is a preservative that has a large spectrum of antimicrobial activity and is used in cosmetic products. It is safer than parabens and is effective at low concentration levels. The European Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety considers it safe for all consumers at a maximum concentration of 1%. In clinical studies, Phenoxyethanol was neither a primary irritant nor sensitizer. Phenoxyethanol was not phototoxic. It is concluded that Phenoxyethanol is safe as a cosmetic ingredient in the present practices of use and concentration. In clinical studies, Phenoxyethanol was neither a primary irritant nor sensitizer. Phenoxyethanol was not phototoxic. It is concluded that Phenoxyethanol is safe as a cosmetic ingredient in the present practices of use and concentration¹.

(1) Safety review of phenoxyethanol when used as a preservative in …. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31588615/
(2) Safety review of phenoxyethanol when used as a preservative in …. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/jdv.15944
(3) Phenoxyethanol: Uses, Interactions, Mechanism of Action – DrugBank Online. https://go.drugbank.com/drugs/DB11304
(4) Phenoxyethanol: Is It Good For Your Health? – WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/beauty/what-to-know-about-phenoxyethanol
(5) 9 Final Report on the Safety Assessment of Phenoxyethanol – SAGE Journals.

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