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

Blissfulinoz said...

Hey Susan! Absolutely love your blog and after reading lots I'm finally going to try making a few things. I'm starting with your In The Tub Scrub, but had a hard time finding Phenonip in Australia so I ordered Phenoxyethanol by itself accidentally instead. I've found and ordered some Phenonip (called Phenoserve down here it looks like), but what can I do with the Phenoxyethanol if I can't return it? Can I combine it with something else and use it? I would just hate to waste it, you know?


Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Ryan! Sorry I missed your comment. You can use liquid Germall Plus on its own, if you wish. I have made many many products in jars with this preservative and have not had a problem. I think it's a great preservative, which is why I use it all the time. I can't give you scientific evidence that my products have always worked and I hate to tell someone just to trust my word, but I have absolutely no issue telling someone they can use liquid Germall Plus in a jarred product.

Hi Blissfulinoz! You could combine it with another preservative, like a paraben, if you want. Organic acids are great, too. Check out those posts in the preservatives section of the blog.

godschild4ever said...

Phenoxyethanol can not be used alone as a preservative? Does it has to be paired w/ another preservative? thx

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi godschild4ever. If it can't be used alone, it has to be paired with another preservative. Check out the comments above or the preservatives section of the blog for more details.

Paola L said...

Hi Susan!

Quick question Re: Liquid Germal Plus... Its my favourite preservative to use...however, I'm a little worried about using it because there are articles out there saying it's not the healthiest preservative out there...BUT it preserves my products like no other. Are there any skin care brands who use LGP to preserve their products? Or is it more seen in the DIY realm ?

Paola L said...

Hi Susan!
Your site is great - you're full of great knowledge.

Quick question Re: Liquid Germal Plus. Its my favourite preservative to use. It preserves my creations like no other. There are articles out there stating that it's not the safest/healthiest preservatives to use- why is that? Are there any skincare brands using LGP in their creams that you're aware of? I usually don't see it on their ingredient deck -Or do they not list it? Sometimes I see some brands using Phenoxyethanol- including wholesale bulk cream websites.... but you're saying it can't be used alone and paired with another preservative- yet they use it alone.



godschild4ever said...

Hi Susan
I am making diy skinceutical ferulic acid. It called for .33g of Phenoxyethanol and I put in .43 instead. Do you think that would be a problem? I don't want to waste the other products :(. Thank You
Thank You

Arabia Sabree said...

Hi Susan,

I recently ordered Phenoxyethanol SA but I didn’t realize you couldn’t use it by itself. Although the INCI states Phenoxyethanol, Sorbic acid, Caprylyl Glycol is it still unsafe to use by itself? With the combination of the Sorbic Acid and Caprylyl Glycol shouldn’t be ok to use as a single preservative in my product? This was also listed as a broad spectrum preservative.

Thank you


Venus Lim said...

Hi Susan,

Thank you for your informative post on preservative!
I have some questions: can phenoxyethanol be used in anhydrous system? and you mentioned that it can withstand higher temperature, so could it be used as hot pour preservative as well because we might need to heat the product up to around 80 or 90C in hot pour process.

Thank you


Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Paola! I've written a post about your question that will be posted on September 6, 2017. The short answer is that I don't know what is unhealthy about LGP.

Hi Arabia! Check out the preservatives chart in the preservatives section of the blog to see which one you might have bought, as I think you'll be pleasantly suprised.

Hi Venus! What does your supplier suggest?