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Phenoxyethanol is an oily, slightly sticky liquid with a faint rose-like scent. It is used as a preservative in a wide variety of cosmetic and personal care products, including skin care products, eye makeup, fragrances, blushers, foundations, lipstick, bath soaps and detergents, etc. Research shows that this ingredient is safe when used in these products.
Phenoxyethanol is usually synthesized for commercial use but it can also be found naturally in products such as green tea.
U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
The FDA reviewed the safety of phenoxyethanol (also called ethylene glycol monophenyl ether ) and approved its use as an indirect food additive as a component of adhesives.
Code of Federal Regulations for Phenoxyethanol
U.S. Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR)
The Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) Expert Panel assessed the safety of phenoxyethanol. CIR is an independent, non-profit scientific body that was launched in 1976 with support of FDA and the Consumer Federation of America (CFA) to assess the safety of ingredients used in cosmetics in the U.S. CIR consists of world-renowned scientists and physicians who have been publicly nominated by consumer, scientific and medical groups, government agencies and industry. CIR concluded that phenoxyethanol was safe as a cosmetic ingredient under current conditions of use (i.e., up to concentrations of 1.0% in cosmetic and personal care products).
In 2007, as part of a routine re-evaluation of previously reviewed ingredients, CIR considered available new data on phenoxyethanol and reaffirmed the 1990 “safe as used” conclusion.
European Union (E.U.)
Regulation (EC) No. 1223/2009 of the European Union lists phenoxyethanol in Annex V, the list of preservatives allowed in cosmetic products. The maximum concentration in ready for use concentrations is 1.0%.
U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA):
EU Cosmetics Inventory
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