Phenoxyethanol is a common, but toxic, personal care preservative.

Extremely common. If you haven’t noticed it before, you’ll start seeing it everywhere now!
Soap, shampoo, conditioner, lotion, skincare, foundation, sunscreen, baby wipes, baby wash, mascara, lipstick, deodorant..the list goes on.

Phenoxyethanol is a bactericide and has recently been used to replace parabens, especially in “natural” products. But is it safe? Let’s look deeper.

What you need to know about phenoxyethanol…

❌ The FDA describes it as being able to suppress the nervous system.

❌ The product’s Material Safety Data Sheet says that it is harmful if inhaled, swallowed, or absorbed through the skin and that it can cause reproductive damage.

❌ The Chemical Toxicity Database lists that phenoxyethanol may cause central nervous system depression, kidney damage, skin irritation, headaches, dizziness, nausea and drowsiness. If inhaled it may cause respiratory and digestive tract irritation.

❌ It can create a dangerous bi-product called 1,4 dioxane. The EPA has established 1,4 dioxane is a human carcinogen.

Phenoxyethanol has been found to be toxic to the body even in small doses…

❌ In fact, one study found that in a one-day period, where phenoxyethanol was used once in a concentration of just 1%, there was cellular death that occurred even at these low concentrations.

❌ Another study done in infants showed that it can cause central nervous system damage.

❌ The American Society of Contact Dermatitis lists phenoxyethanol as one of its core allergens, even in concentrations as low as 1%.

But it has been deemed ok to use by companies in small doses: 1%

⚠️Let’s think about why this might be so important? If we are using MULTIPLE products, (women using an average of 12 different products a day) and all contain phenoxyethanol, think about how that multiplies and quickly adds to your body burden EVERY day. Then add on all the other toxins in our products and also in our home, environment, food, water. If there are ways we can proactively reduce our body burden, why wouldn’t we?

And what about our children and their developing bodies? What about pregnant mothers? Did you know that newborn babies have body burden? In 2004 a test spearheaded by the EWG revealed a staggering 287 chemicals and toxins were found in the cord blood of new born babies! 

Choose your products wisely, mamas!

These facts are a little scary, but I wanted to point out how prevalent this is in our everyday products. Before I knew better, I used products with phenoxyethanol. But as I always say, once we know better..

We can DO better! For yourselves, for our family, for our future family.

Check your labels. For all different product recommendations, check our Toxin Free Masterlist, or shop clean beauty.

Mindful Mommy, Meghan Smallwood