Thursday, October 21, 2010

Preservatives: Phenoxyethanol

Phenoxyethanol is a phenolic compound with an alcohol functional group that we find in quite a few preservatives. It is not a formaldehyde releaser.

It has good activity against Gram positive and Gram negative bacteria as well as yeast, and is generally paired up with another preservative - a quaternium, benzoic acid, or parabens to increase the fungal fighting abilities. It is compatible with non-ionic ingredients and proteins.

With an effective pH range of 3 to 8.5, it's suitable for all our products, and it can be added to any phase of our product creation as it is stable in higher temperatures. Interestingly enough, phenoxyethanol can be used as a fragrance fixative, so adding it to our products will help extend the life span of our products as well as the life span of our lovely scents!

You can find phenoxyethanol in Optiphen (combined with capryl glycol), Optiphen ND (combined with benzoic acid and dehydroacetic acid), Phenonip (parabens), Liquipar Optima (parabens), and Liquipar PE (parabens).


Anonymous said...

I find that phenoxyethanol has a rosy scent and it makes my eyes red. Lots of unscented products use it, probably because it smells good. Too bad, since people with perfume allergies are probably likely to be allergic to it, so we can't buy even "unscented" products if they have that preservative.

Anonymous said...

Hi susan! I just wanna ask, can i use phenoxyethanol itself as a preservative without pairing with other preservative that you've mentioned?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Anonymous. No, as I mention in the post, you can't use phenoxyethanol on its own as it needs a fungicide with it.

And please don't be anonymous. I will have to delete your message if you don't update it with your name. Asking for a name is a way of creating community, and anonymous posts don't help do that.

Melanie Tiongson said...

Thanks susan. Sorry if i choose my identity as anonymous. I already use my gmail account.

Tawa said...

Hello and tnx for the education Susan.
Can I then add Potasium/sodium Benzoate to phenoxyethanol and @ wht proportions (if yes) for my skin lotions?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Tawa. Take a look at this post on the organic acids to see what it says about sodium benzoate. Then consult your supplier to see what the suggested usage rate for this preservative might be. Combine at the suggested usage rates and rejoice!

sabs said...

Hi Susan,
Last night I made a lotion and used 1% phenoxyethanol. Since it was runny I heated it and added another 1% ewax. When it had cooled, added .5% phenoxyethanol. My skin is feeling hot and itchy. What did I do wrong?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Saba! Please share your complete recipe in percentages and your process so we can help further.

Lisa said...

That is really interesting! I made a conditioner this weekend,and I used Optiphen Plus as my preservative. It contains Phenoxyethanol. I used a fragrance oil to scent my conditioner. My conditioner smells great out of the bottle and in the shower. Once I rinsed it off, the scent does not linger at all. I was quite disappointed because I wanted the scent to linger after rinsing it off. Do you think I should use C12-15 alkyl benzoate? For these fragrance fixatives, do they only apply to leave on products? What should I use for rinse off products?

kejawa David said...

hi susan.My name is David.I produce paper airfreshener like that of American Little tree.But my challenge is that ,my product does not last 3 days.What chemical can i add that it will make it last 30 days.Can i use Phenoxyethanol?If yes,with what chemical should i use it?.Please forward reply to

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

HI Lisa! You can use more fragrance oil. A fragrance fixative is a good idea, but you might want to consider dipropylene glycol for something more water soluble.

Hi Kejawa. There are far better fragrance fixative ingredients. Do a search on this blog for "fragrance fixative" and see what you find!

Ryan said... states, "If you are preserving a jar product (with a largish headspace), including phenoxyethanol in your preservative mix is a very good idea to have in there as it will keep the headspace clean."
Therefore, since my favorite preservative is liquid germall plus, can I add phenoxyethanol to use with liquid germall plus?
Do you have any recommendation on what the low percentage would be just to keep the airspace and jar clean, since liquid germall plus has great preserving power?
Thanks, Ryan