Phenoxyethanol

This is part of our ongoing series helping consumers better understand chemicals, chemistry, and product formulations. We translate the science, bust the myths, and give you an honest assessment, so you can make informed choices for your family!

Ingredient: Phenoxyethanol

What it is: Phenoxyethanol can be found naturally in green tea, but the commercial ingredient is synthetically produced in a laboratory creating what’s termed a “nature identical” chemical. Specifically, it’s created by treating phenol with ethylene oxide in an alkaline medium which all reacts to form a pH-balanced ingredient.

What it does: Fights bacteria. Most personal care products are made with a lot of water and a variety of nutrients (consider all of the natural oils and botanicals in Honest products!) which makes an incredibly hospitable breeding ground for microorganisms. What’s worse – the product might smell and look just fine, but be swarming with bacteria or fungi that are dangerous to your health. Effective preservatives are vital for ensuring safety!

Why we use it: We use phenoxyethanol in a very low concentration as a preservative in 5 of our products (Stain Remover, Multi-Surface Spray, Dish Soap, Hand Soap & Laundry Detergent) because the most accessible alternatives for these types of formulas include parabens and formaldehyde-releasing preservatives. Both are classes of chemicals with demonstrable evidence of potential health risks, whereas phenoxyethanol is very safe at low levels. It’s been tested on the skin and eyes and it is non-irritating and non-sensitizing at levels of 2.2% or lower while being effective at only 1% concentrations. The European Union and Japan both approve its use up to that 1% level and our formulas fall well below the recommendation at 0.5% or less (depending on the specific product).

Even better, phenoxyethanol doesn’t react with other ingredients, air, or light. This kind of stability makes it an especially effective preservative.

What’s more, it’s included in the Handbook of Green Chemicals and is also Whole Foods Premium Body Care approved. And, their standards, developed by a team of scientists over the course of years, are some of the strictest available. If these two credible sources give it a thumbs-up, we do, too.

Why we’re featuring it today: We regularly hear from customers concerned about this ingredient because there’s quite a bit of online controversy about its safety.  You’ll find it being mentioned as everything from a developmental and reproductive toxicant to being linked to cancer. Fundamentally, it’s poorly interpreted science.

Here’s the real deal: Most of the studies that have found significant negative health impacts are based on full-strength or high-dose exposures. In real life usage, exposures are quite small. That’s why it’s approved at levels up to 1%. It’s all about the final formulation.

Think of it like a cupcake recipe. You wouldn’t want to eat a mouthful of salt, or raw egg, or flour, or probably any other ingredient that goes into a cupcake. (Not only would it taste disgusting, eating a bunch of salt or raw eggs could make you sick!) But mixed in just the right amounts, baked just the right way, a cupcake is divine. That’s the magic of chemistry! Product formulations work the same way.

We’d like to point out a study that helped inform our decision to use it – a study conducted on pre-term newborn babies finding a phenoxyethanol-based antiseptic as the preferred, gentle formula that’s quickly metabolized by even a premature baby’s system.

Now, we’re not trying to write-off our customers concerns about this ingredient – honestly, it’s not perfect, but there are not many preservatives that are.  Even alcohol can be harsh and has it’s limitations.

Given all this, we recognize that phenoxyethanol isn’t perfect, and we are actually already trying to find a replacement. It’s the spirit of the company and our commitment to you, to always try to do better!

We certainly stand behind the safety of our products, but we know there’s always room for improvement and we take all of our customers’ feedback and concerns to heart.

Have any other questions or concerns about phenoxyethanol? We’re happy to hear them and help you better understand this ingredient!

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  • VK

    Nice honest article (a couple of instances of it’s being confused with its- just thought I’d let you know in a friendly way!)

  • RE

    Can you use this product on HE machines?

  • mominala

    the referenced Final Report on the Safety Assessment of Phenoxyethanol is dated 1990. could there be newer references we can review?

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  • Nick Bro

    Tagged

  • pk

    “The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) data sheets show chromosomal changes and genetic mutation effects in testing as well as testicular atrophy and interference with reproductivity in mice.” says Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phenoxyethanol

    • Care

      “or other Glycol Ethers, although Phenoxyethanol is not mentioned in the abstract.[11]” This is the rest of that sentence. There is no period after the word ‘mice.” This statement was not in reference to Phenoxyethanol.

    • SUPRA luca

      The whole sentence is:
      “The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) data sheets show chromosomal
      changes and genetic mutation effects in testing as well as testicular
      atrophy and interference with reproductivity in mice for other glycol
      ethers, although phenoxyethanol is not mentioned in the abstract.”

  • Johan A.

    @pk The EPA abstract does not mention Phenoxyethanol, only other glycol ethers, and there is also a question of dose levels. Phenoxyethanol is GRAS in the whole world at levels below 1%.

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  • Ahmed

    hi, i purchased enlargement cream which ingredient are Phenoxyethanol, water, glycol stearate SE, isopropyl myristate, fenugreek oil, allantoin vitamine A, gragrance, i want to know can i use it .
    thx

  • none

    It is not found in green tea. This is a lie. It is a completely synthetic chemical. The Honest Co is not honest at all! I will not be purchasing your products.

    • Summr

      Wow. I’d like to suggest you do a little research (and investigate your sources) before making ignorant statements. Though I do concede it is becoming increasingly difficult to find truth and reputable info these days. Can’t even trust the word “organic” anymore. However, phenoxyethanol is in fact found, naturally, in green tea. This company makes no claim they use plant based phenoxyethanol. That is made clear in the article. I for one appreciate there candor.

      And no, I do not have any ties to this company nor have I ever purchased anything from them. Happened upon the article quite by accident, never been here before.

    • Cute Mikey

      You need to read carefully before ranting. The blog clearly says that is a synthetic form of something found in green tea. Are you claiming that the two are not bio-identical with the same pharmacokinetics? Seriously, do some research and read CAREFULLY.

  • Erika Summers

    The issue is, many products contain it so it’s not such a low does anymore. Just like 1 cupcake isn’t so bad but a dozen is!

    • Paul Whyte

      You have a good point. It’s the total daily dose that matters. Phenoxyethanol is one of the better ones which is why many companies use it. The alternatives cause more allergies but in a very small number of people. The no preservatives formulations are another way to formulate but when you understand the science, those formulations turn the whole formulation into a preservative by penetrating cells easier and giving the need lyse effect to microbes. That can be a route to even more ingredients become part of a persons allergen list.

      The bottom line is that our personal care products must not be allowed to be breading grounds for pathogens or people really do start dropping like flies! So long as there are many different kinds of products that allergic people can carefully try out till they find ones that are OK for them to use, life can be good again. No easy answers, just check all new products for allergens that your doctor has found you to be allergic to and try a new product on a small bit of skin (say inner arm to see if it goes red or itchy).

  • Christina

    I like that you are trying to educate people about ingredients. I am not currently using any of your products but found your blog while doing research on phenoxyethanol and other possible allergens. I have been experiencing strange allergic reactions to something in the products that I am using. Out of the eight products sitting here on my desk that I am using everyday…5 of them contain phenoxyethanol. These are on my skin and in my hair everyday. 3 of them are from the same company and I purchased them thinking that they were more natural, organic, non-gmo and made with plant based ingredients therefore more healthy. Individually it would seem they are…but I am beginning to see that my exposure is much greater than I could have imagined. Wishing you all the best.

    • Paul Whyte

      Dear Christina, you say – “I purchased them thinking that they were more natural, organic, non-gmo and made with plant based ingredients therefore more healthy.”

      I had some training in toxicology in my undergraduate degree 30 years ago and have been a formulator of personal care products ever since and at no point in that journey had any science ever backed up that idea that natural or your list was less toxic.

      Toxic can be very personal for you and a particular ingredient regardless of its natural or synthetic source. Doctors can do tests to show up allergies. Phenoxyethanol is not toxic to most people until an allergy starts. Phenoxyethanol is in the lowest rate of allergens used in a population. Your allergic reaction would be to any of the ingredients listed and possibly more than one ingredient.

  • Angela Henderson
  • anohkos

    so you’re basically saying having poison in our bodies is ok if it does not ecxeed 1% of any given product we use? Your articles are misleading and dangerous, please do the appropriate HONEST research!

    • pk

      Stain Remover, Multi-Surface Spray, Dish Soap, Hand Soap & Laundry Detergent? Unless you are using dish or hand soap all over your body, everyday – I think you are gonna be fine with this being in your stain remover and laundry detergent. Don’t worry!

    • Cute Mikey

      Wrong. What it’s saying is that it’s NOT a poison at very low levels. That’s true of many substances including vitamins and minerals. You need to read up on toxicology and pharmacology before ranting. While you’re at it, read up on how our kidneys detoxifies continuously.

    • Paul Whyte

      There are many toxicology introductions available on the internet written by toxicologists. I recommend you read one. Put “introduction toxicology” into Google and change your life.

      The basic start to toxicology (the study of toxins) is that all materials in the universe are toxic at a high enough dosage. Water is toxic if too much is drunk, oxygen has a toxic level, all foods have a toxic level. The dose makes the toxin.

      Once you realise that everything can be toxic then it is about finding a safe dosage for you. For very sensitive people many things are to be avoided. For people with no issues yet, the personal care market may be of no issue for them ever in their life! The variations between the most sensitive people and the least sensitive people can be up to 1,000 times for some ingredients. Its a very big range.

      I know one retired pest controller who could tell if a particular pesticide had been used on a house as he was so extremely allergic he was more sensitive than an advanced scientific instrument! He was extremely sensitised.

      Most government regulations put limits so that the general population does not have a toxic reaction. The levels are chosen so that most people can live their whole life with no reactions developing.

  • Joyce

    Oh no! More stuff to stress about…lol! I’m already afraid of what I’m putting in my body…now I have to worry about what I put on the outside of it, too…

    • Paul Whyte

      If you don’t have an allergy then just enjoy life. It may never happen to you. If you ever get an allergy then get technical information about it and take care. Worry does not do anyone any good. Life it too short to worry. Most personal care products are enjoyed by most people. In my own personal care products I get a sensitisation report rate of one complaint per 50 million uses. It’s not that common that new sensitisations happen. However once your sensitised it always happens with that ingredient and many people on this blog are unfortunate enough to be those people. Hence the discussion.

  • Judy Grupido

    Dear honestly, Please do your research before you “Honestly Blog” about something. Everyone would appreciate it.
    What’s more, it’s included in the Handbook of Green Chemicals
    and is also Whole Foods Premium Body Care
    approved. And, their standards, developed by a team of scientists over the
    course of years, are some of the strictest available. If these two credible
    sources give it a thumbs-up, we do, too.
    International Journal of Toxicology Final
    Report on the Safety Assessment of Phenoxyethanol

    CIR Safety Review: The CIR
    Expert Panel reviewed safety data on Phenoxyethanol and noted that it was
    practically nontoxic via oral and dermal administration.

    • Michelle Harmond

      what are you complaining about when both you and Honest Company are saying the same thing — that it’s a safe preservative especially at such low percentages? Am I missing something?

    • Cute Mikey

      What are you talking about? You’re basically repeating what the blog says.

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  • AJ

    I WAS TURNED OFF WHEN I READ THE LABEL AND PHEN-OXYEN-THANOL, AND THATS BEFORE I JOINED THE HONESTLY FAN CLUB AND THREW AWAY ALL MY GREEN TEA. SO REALISTICALLY PEOPLE ARENT READING THE WAY ITS SPELLED OUT HERE, AS A COMPLETELY LOOSE ISOLATE CHAIN READY FOR ANYTHING, LOL.

    • Paul

      Threw away all green tea? Why?

      • Paul Whyte

        It contains phenoxyethanol and AJ is allergic to phenoxyethanol. A persons cells can’t tell the difference between a synthetic ingredient added as a preservative to stop microbial spoilage at less than 0.05% and that same concentration in green tea simple there because it always is in green tea as the plant always puts it there.

      • Paul Whyte

        I check a number of scientific journal articles about green tea extract components and no phenoxyethanol was mentioned. Lots of good stuff in Green Tea though.

  • SR

    I hate to hear “a little bit won’t hurt you”! Why not just add smoking for hmmm lets say a year, to the list, and say “a little bit won’t hurt you”. Makes me angry. This chemical can cause brain and nervous system damage. If claim you’re an “honest company” that’s products are natural, consumers should be able to trust that. Angry and disappointed consumer.

    • BRUNA

      I’M A LITTLE DISAPPOINTED TOO. BECAUSE I AM TIRED TO READ LABELS.
      THE BLOG SAYS THAT THE PHENOXY…DOESN’T REACT WITH OTHER INGREDIENTS BUT THE WEBSITE OF FDA SAYS THE OPPOSITE.

      “The two potentially harmful ingredients in Mommy’s Bliss Nipple Cream are chlorphenesin and phenoxyethanol, which may interact with one another to further increase the risk of slow or shallow breathing (respiratory depression) in nursing infants.”

      please , if we are interest only in quality, why honest company needs to use this ingredient in some products?

      • Paul Whyte

        I’m not sure that you realise the worst effect on a life of using an improperly preserved product. Our bodies carry pathogens inherently on our parts. Out of the tens of thousands of microbes that live in and on our body, some cause death if they are allowed to grown somewhere nice and fertile (for them) and then get placed back on a body but a billion times stronger. This is what the preservatives attempt to prevent. Personal care products that have no preservatives can grow pathogens quickly. Say a week or two is all that could be needed if no preservative was used to make a very dangerous mixture. The FDA and other regulators are trying to prevent the needless loss of life from that preventable cause. Preservatives can prevent and do prevent such deaths from examples like toxic shock, advanced organ failure causing death and other such examples. There is no easy solution. Natural does not stop allergies. There are many natural ingredients that are potent allergens. Allergic people simply must be aware of the risk of using a new unchecked out product on themselves. A solution can be to have many different preservatives used on a range of products. As a product formulator (for another brand) I have made a new formulation for a customer who become allergic to one of my formulations.

    • Cute Mikey

      Do some thinking before you rant.
      1) Does smoking have any benefits? This chemical is used for a reason. You’re comparing apples and oranges.
      2) Do some reading on how substances are absorbed into the skin vs how is absorbed into the lungs. And how the kidneys detoxifies. Are you seriously claiming that smoking has the same pharmacokinetics as this preservative?
      3) If you’re sick of hearing, “a little bit won’t hurt you,” you’re obviously ignorant of Phase I and Phase II clinical trials by the FDA, where our goal is to determine safety levels (I’m a Medical Research Analyst). The fact is, virtually all substances have a toxicity or harmful level, including calcium, vitamin D and zinc. Indeed, over 60,000 cases of vitamin toxicity is reported to the government annually.

      The fact is, our body detoxifies itself continously. If you don’t exceed the recommended dose, you’re fine. And note that we set these safety levels at way lower than the minimal dangerous level, meaning that if you exceed it occasionally, you should still be fine (assuming you’re healthy).

      Instead of being angry, maybe you should try being educated. Consult the FDA and a physician instead of making assumptions. And learn about the clinical trials process and how dose escalation works.

      • Alice Lind

        If feeling like someone threw acid on your skin, getting rashes or even wounds (by products containing less than 1%) is your definition of fine, then yes absolutely, phenoxyethanol is “fine”.
        Because that’s what happens to me when coming in contact with anything containing it.

        • Ryan Becker

          So what? It sounds like you have an allergy or intolerance to the chemical. How does that impact the general public, which is what clinical risks and safety profiles are about. My neighbor has a peanut allergy. Her anaphylactic reaction is MUCH WORSE than anything you described. In fact, it’s live threatening. Did that mean peanuts are harmful, toxic or not fine for most of the population? Sorry but Honest doesn’t custom make products just for you. It looks at the medical literature and research says it’s fine for most people, so there’s no reason not to use it if the benefits outweigh the risk. And to me, a mild temporary reaction for a few people doesn’t outweigh the benefit of not having bacteria in my skin care products. If it bothers you, don’t use it. But don’t extrapolate your personal experience to make it unavailable for everyone else. That’s the definition of arrogance and selfishness.

          • HD

            Not so simple! And would you go out of your way to expose your neighbor to peanuts? This is a common allergen, and can be quite severe. Moreover, phenoxyethanol and similar synthetics are found in nearly everything on the shelves. I know this because I have to read ingredients of all products before I can come in contact, and must create many of my own products. The UN-SIMPLE part is everything the collective “you” smear on yourself ends up on everything you touch, and then, everything we, the allergic touch. It doesn’t matter how little I’m exposed to, or where on my body the exposure takes place — my face gets the rash. And NO, this isn’t a little temporary rash. My reaction is so severe, I must use an immune-modulator to stop my body from attacking itself, literally forever, to interrupt the reaction. This could happen to you someday too. I didn’t always have this problem. The community at large needs to understand they can’t just be that selfish and ignorant about the effects their own actions have on others, and please never belittle those who suffer from chemical reactions. I only posted this reply in the hope and others would see it and understand that their viewpoint on a not-so-innocent group of anti-microbials is quite serious, indeed.

          • Janie Hartman

            I am having the same problem. I was diagnosed with an allergy to methyldibromo glutaronitrile which is another name for phenoxyethanol. I cannot find products that donot have phenoxyethanol (which goes by many other names too). I can’t even find a soap to use on my face. The problem with reading the labels is that manufacturers don’t put all the ingredients on the label. You can usually go online and find more ingredients, but this is really a hassle when you are at the store. I have bought products that donot list it; use them and break out again. It is so very frustrating! Even drugs manufactured in Europe where methyldibromo glutaronitrile is banned use phenoxyethanol. I guess they are finding a way around the ban.

          • Paul Whyte

            Janie methyldibromo glutaronitrile is a completely different chemical to phenoxyethanol. Please read up about these materials in the technical literature so you understand what your talking about. I understand that you have a severe reaction and that it is disabling your life. However it appears that you may have more than one allergen attached to your auto-immune disfunction. This happens and is confusing when the auto-immune disorder attaches to more and more allergens. I’m sorry that this is happening to you. I’m a manufacturer of personal care products and appreciate your situation.

        • bryguyf69

          Well, clearly your reaction is not typical or common since the chemical is still considered safe. What happens to you has no bearing on what happens to me, or much of the population. That’s why we use statistics. There’s a simple solution to your problem: Don’t use it.

          • HD

            Not so simple! This is a common allergen, and can be quite severe. Moreover, phenoxyethanol and similar synthetics are found in nearly everything on the shelves. I know this because I have to read ingredients of all products before I can come in contact, and must create many of my own products. The UN-SIMPLE part is everything the collective “you” smear on yourself ends up on everything you touch, and then, everything we, the allergic touch. It doesn’t matter how little I’m exposed to, or where on my body the exposure takes place — my face gets the rash. And NO, this isn’t a little temporary rash. My reaction is so severe, I must use an immune-modulator to stop my body from attacking itself, literally forever, to interrupt the reaction. This could happen to you someday too. I didn’t always have this problem. The community at large needs to understand they can’t just be that selfish and ignorant about the effects their own actions have on others, and please never belittle those who suffer from chemical reactions. I only posted this reply in the hope and others would see it and understand that their viewpoint on a not-so-innocent group of anti-microbials is quite serious, indeed.

        • HD

          Me too!

        • Tcbaby

          Me too! It’s in my MAC bb cream and makeup remover wipes.

      • Sharon O

        but let’s remember that every drug recalled by the FDA . . . was first proven to be “safe and effective” by the FDA.

        • bryguyf69

          What disappoints me about the discussion is the avoidance of science. When you say that drugs have been recalled, what are the stats? How many drugs have been recalled out if the ones that have been approved? The US FDA is notoriously tough. It rejected thalidomide, which caused birth defects in Europe and Canada, where it was approved. If your logic guided drug approval, we’d have much fewer therapies on the market. And that, to me, is much more dangerous than a few people having an allergic reaction.

      • Stacy

        EXACTLY. Every word. My husband and I make the joke all the time that the FDA passes items if it only killed 3 out of 15 people. As long as it didn’t kill 4 we’re good lol!

        • Ryan Becker

          What do you think the point of Biostatistics is? If you’re looking for perfection in both safety and efficacy, you might as well stop using all consumer products, especially drugs. In fact, you might as well stop eating since there is no guarantee that the tomato you’re holding isn’t infected. Clearly the fact that MOST tomatoes aren’t infected, as shown by QA spot checking, isn’t good enough for you.

          • Stacy

            Horrible analogy. Of course you will never know if 100% of your food is infected whether you grew it yourself or not. That’s totally different than the FDA irresponsibly allowing harmful ingredients to be on the market such as hydroquinone (an ingredient completely banned by Europe). Stay on topic. We are not talking about life sustaining medications or food here we are talking about ingredients primarily used in cosmetics.

  • Patrick

    Good afternoon Honest Company. Thanks for “standing behind the safety of your products”! Quick question – why don’t you publish the Materials Safety Data Sheets for all your products on your website? I came across this entry on the blog while looking for them. Clorox, Lysol, and even 7th Generation have entire portions of their website devoted to safety and MSDS sharing. I’m kind of confused as to where to find yours. Can you post of link in this public forum so everyone can view them? Thanks!

  • Jazzer

    Someone mentioned here FDA like it’s a trustworthy organization.. “Consult the FDA and a physician instead of making assumptions…” Wow.. what an ignorant person! The FDA is a Fraud and Death Administration – they are here only to protect billion dollar corporation’s interest. They are not for consumers, people! Stop trusting bogus institution and fake science. Read some info on FDA corruption and maybe you will wake up one day.

    Regarding Phenoxyethoanol – it is used as an antibacterial agent. According to the MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet), we find that it is toxic if swallowed, inhaled, absorbed through the skin, it is a severe skin and eye irritant, and it may cause reproductive defects [http://www.sciencelab.com/msds.php?msdsId=9926486]. According to the EPA data sheets, it has shown to cause chromosomal changes and genetic mutations in tests, as well as testicular atrophy and interference with reproductivity in mice [http://www.epa.gov/ttn/atw/glycol2000.pdf].

    The known side effects of Phenoxyethanol exposure are:

    Headache
    Shock
    Convulsions
    Weakness
    Kidney damage
    Cardiac failure
    Kidney failure
    Death

    • Ryan Becker

      Er, that MSDS data is pointless without dosage information. And that’s precisely the problem with all these alarmist posts. They only give the most extreme cases, and worst, out of context. For example, some will say 10 babies got sick. But 10 babies out if how many in what time period??? Our they would say, contact with XXX caused developmental problems. But they don’t mention that the “contact” was oral ingestion. And that is indeed the case with phenoxyethanol: long-term ingestion of safe dosages (and I’m not merely talking about the baby sucking on a thumb that touched a baby wipe. I’m talking about sucking on nipples repeatedly that were treated with nipple cream).

      The bottom line is that in the recommended doses, it is a safe and effective preservative for those without allergies to it, and that’s the vast majority of consumers. Indeed, I’d much rather have my patients use something with phenoxyethanol then risk an infection from spoiled chemicals (which includes natural ingredients like water).

      • Jazzer

        Ryan, Ryan – don’t be so naive. Here is a clip of Dr. Peter Rost, a former vice president of Pfizer and a whistleblower of the pharmaceutical industry telling you directly how your approvals, trials, research are done to get drugs or other chemicals on the market that later cripple or kill people: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TrCizlAOBAo

      • Paul Whyte

        Ryan, MSDSs are for work place usage. Consumer labels are for consumer usage. MSDSs are not written for consumers. When consumers have troubles with products there are two good starting places. The manufacturer of the product and their doctor. Even doctors are required to not try and self diagnose as it works so badly for even doctors. Ordinary people can expect to make a complete hash of self diagnosis but with a good doctor a lot can be figured out. By the way I agree with you.

    • Ryan Becker

      As for the FDA (whom I used to have weekly interactions as a medical researcher), I challenge you to give me a VERIFIED example where the public was harmed from “corruption.” Tell me an example where dangerous medications were released, and who was harmed. If anything, our FDA is notoriously cautious – and overly so according to many activists. Look up the AIDS crisis and see how groups like ACT-UP fought the FDA to relax their standards for life saving drugs. Cancer advocates have also taken up the fight. For better or worse, our FDA has a reputation around the world of being too strict, which is why many patients resort to [sometimes illegally] buying medications from out of the country. As an example, Nizoral 2% (an antifungal shampoo) is only available by prescription here but widely available over the counter in other countries. A famous example of our FDA’s success is Thalidomide. While many European countries approved the morning sickness pill, our FDA did not. It later turned out that the drug cause fetal deformities such as missing limbs. As a result, Americans were spared of the trauma, but Europe and parts of Latin America had a generation of limbless children. One of my co-workers was born missing 3 fingers because of thalidomide.

      Yes, there is corruption and inefficiencies, where some meds may be given unfair preference, while others are unfairly suppressed. But internal checks and balances protect the public, and data acquisition — including adverse events — is second to none. That’s why oUr FDA is routinely quoted in other countries, i.e. when I was in Asia, medical news programs and even commercials often cite the FDA. I used to be a source of that data where I filed weekly reports to the FDA from our patients, so I’m speaking from experience. So instead of making irresponsible accusations without proof, EDUCATE YOURSELF with real peer-reviewed academic sources and learn how medical research, including the FDA, actually works.

      • Jazzer

        Ryan, of course, FDA must do something good, right. But that’s on a surface – for avg ppl like you and me. Now once you start digging deeper, then you realize what money can do. I’ll give you such an example – aspartame – artificial sweetener – banned in lots of counties. But not U.S. because 1) big corps make tons of money 2) it generates for U.S. medical system a huge number of patients with diabetes, birth defects, mental retardations, etc. etc. All you need to do is start drinking diet coke. Lots of products sold in U.S. are filled with aspartame. So here is your approved by FDA a very dangerous chemical that damages health to lots of Americans. If you only watch mainstream media you will never know that FDA approved prescription drugs kill about 200,000 people yearly in U.S. alone! [http://wakingtimesmedia.com/prescription-drugs-killing-us-meet-one-doctor-many-just-published-paper/]
        As to Nizoral 2%, Zovirax or other drugs that you can buy in U.S. on prescription only is due to big Pharma making tons of money by selling it with 200-500% margins. The same drugs you can buy in other countries over the counter way cheaper.
        At last, I knew a guy who owns the clinic where those trials are ordered by Pharm companies and he literally said we can approve for FDA any drug you like. So you would be so naive to think if those Pharm companies are funding the research or trial, the clinic will fail the trial?! Wrong answer – they will get it approved as one-two-three done! Now your job as a normal human being to expose all that stuff about FDA and big Pharma and not to hide from avg ppl.

        • Paul Whyte

          Jazzer, I think you miss the point of the role of the FDA and other regulators. No regulator on Earth can make shore that bad things can’t happen to people with sensitisations. The medical literature has reports that show that the penetration rates of ingredients can vary by up to 1000 times between the highest absorbing skins and the lowest. This means that the unlucky highest absorbers get all hell break loose with allergies and the like and the low absorbers have no problem at all with any products on the market as a very rough generalisation. The population variations are that large. If the FDA were to take all the products off the market that anyone had an allergy to there would be just about no products left on the market. Clearly not a practical solution. A better solution is that anyone with a product sensitisation is to read up on the causes of allergies and get themselves tested so they know the ingredients to avoid, and check all new products on a tiny bit of skin that is out of the way of life’s essential spots. In my opinion all ingredients need to be listed so sensitised people can read the labels and avoid them. However for those who don’t have any sensitisations yet trying to avoid ingredients that others are allergic to is a very big waist of time.

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  • missmanhattan

    link to preterm baby study doesn’t work…

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  • Nathan Currah

    A patch test indicated that I am severely allergic to Phenoxyethanol. We’re in the process of trying to figure out why my fingers broke out with dry, cracking skin and deep fissures on all my finger tips. Needless to say, I’m suddenly unable to work, after 20 years as a nurse. My employer is investigating the gloves, lotions, soaps, alcohol scrubs, detergents, and antimicrobial products that I come into contact with all day, every day, for Phenoxyethanol (PE) as well as a couple other things I am moderately allergic to. 90% of the creams on the market that dermatologists have recommended to me contain PE. I also looked through all the personal care products at home, detergents, disinfectant wipes, etc. I found several that I use daily containing PE, including my shaving cream and aftershave lotion. I have to think that even if each product only contains 1-2% PE, using multiple products daily has to add up to quite a chronic exposure. PE may also potentiate the release of accelerants and formaldehyde in some rubbers, plastics, adhesives etc.; all things to which I could react allergically.

    • Sheena burch

      Phenoxyethanol is in vaccines as well

    • Ozbloke36

      That’s exactly what happens to me! It happened to me after I kept using products (and they all seem to contain it) and now I avoid it and after months the problem finally went away. The problem was it contributed to other problems as in it dried out my skin so badly ANYTHING else that has that effect would make it 100 times worse.

      Finally after discontinuing Phenoxyethanol use in all products it started to come good (looked almost the same just less painful with other products) and eventually stopped happening. I can feel when I wash my hands with something containing it though as it saps all the moisture out of my hands.

      • Paul Whyte

        OZ bloke, you most likely have a sensitisation to phenoxyethanol. This means that you can either avoid the material with it in or there is a hospital based cure available for auto-immune conditions if that truly is what you have, available though specialists after they have verified that is what you have. For you and other sensitised people to phenoxyethanol it is a terrible toxin. For those who don’t have a sensitisation to phenoxyethanol is does not have that effect at all. To put it on companies to not use any material that has an allergen in it is to miss the point made repeatedly by toxicologists for many decades that all cosmetic ingredients both synthetic and natural can become the focus of a sensitisation. Some ingredients are more so than others. However phenoxyethanol is in the lowest group of preservatives when tests are made with very high doses to determine prevalence of sensitisation. That is less than 2% of the population. The higher prevalence preservatives can be as high as 10% of the population in areas where a preservative has been over used at too high a dose. Once you have an auto-immune disorder further allergens can become attached both synthetic and natural. You must always be cautious when using a new product and test it on a small patch of skin where a reaction will not harm the enjoyment of your life. Looking for natural products will not save you from occasional discovery of a new sensitisation. Natural products can caused sensitisations. Please be cautious for your own sake.

  • Jmarshall

    It seems every product that I have learned I am allergic to has Phenoxyethanol in it. It’s the only common denominator that I have come up with. Makes me look like my face was stung by an entire swarm of bees. BEEware!!

    • Ozbloke36

      I was using it often also and I ended up with skin like an 85 yr old man whenever having a shower or washing my hands. It was the repeated exposure to Phenoxyethanol. Apparently it does damage to your skin with long term exposure and also causes the skin to age. I swapped to a fully Organic product with no Phenoxyethanol and it took a long time but it’s finally gone now.

      • Chloe

        Did you use it in a facial cleanser? what was the percentage your were using it at?

  • Phil

    Hello. I have a question about phenoxyethonl if you have a moment. Where I live we are in a severe drought. I have gotten my hands on a 250L chemical drum which used to contain phenoxyethanol (probably @100%). I would like to use it to harvest rainwater – mainly for flushing the toilet. we wont be drinking it or washing ourselves with it. So my question, if you know, is, can you wash phenoxyethanol off (a plastic barrel in my case) with ordinary soap. I understand that it is non water soluble, but is it ‘soap-soluble’? Thanks for your time.

  • Lou Ann Triplett Woidtke

    I have just found out I am allergic to Thimerosal. Is this the same thing as Phenoxyethanol?

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  • Sara

    Most of the studies that have found significant negative health impacts are based on full-strength or high-dose exposures. In real life usage, exposures are quite small. That’s why it’s approved at levels up to 1%. It’s all about the final formulation.

    According to Journal of Industrial Hygiene and Toxicology, phenoxyethanol affected brain and nervous system in animals at moderate doses. In 1990 Journal of the American College of Toxicology reported that phenoxyethanol also acts as an endocrine disruptor that also caused damage to bladder and acute pulmonary edema in animals. Early 1980s studies also suggest that phenoxyethanol can cause DNA mutations – again, only in animals, as it was not tested on humans.