Safety review of phenoxyethanol when used as a preservative in cosmetics

B. Dréno, T. Zuberbier, C. Gelmetti, G. Gontijo, M. Marinovich

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

Abstract

Phenoxyethanol, or 2-phenoxyethanol, has a large spectrum of antimicrobial activity and has been widely used as a preservative in cosmetic products for decades. It is effective against various Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacteria, as well as against yeasts, and has only a weak inhibitory effect on resident skin flora. According to the European Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety, phenoxyethanol is safe for all consumers – including children of all ages – when used as a preservative in cosmetic products at a maximum concentration of 1%. Adverse systemic effects have been observed in toxicological studies on animals but only when the levels of exposure were many magnitudes higher (around 200-fold higher) than those to which consumers are exposed when using phenoxyethanol-containing cosmetic products. Despite its widespread use in cosmetic products, phenoxyethanol is a rare sensitizer. It can be considered as one of the most well-tolerated preservatives used in cosmetic products.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15-24
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology
Volume33
Issue numberS7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dermatology
  • Infectious Diseases

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