Phenoxyethanol is used as a preservative in cosmetic products and also as a stabilizer in perfumes and soaps. Exposure to phenoxyethanol has been linked to reactions ranging from eczema to severe, life-threatening allergic reactions. Infant oral exposure to phenoxyethanol can acutely affect nervous system function.
FOUND IN: Moisturizer, eye shadow, foundation, sunscreen, conditioner, mascara, eye liner, shampoo, lip gloss, concealer, body wash, hand cream, blush, hair color, hair spray, lip balm, lotion, nail polish, baby wipes, baby lotions and soaps, soap (liquid and bar), shaving cream, deodorant, toothpaste, fragrance, hair removal waxes, hand sanitizer and ultrasound gel.
LABEL: Phenoxyethanol, 2-Phenoxyethanol, Euxyl K® 400 (mixture of Phenoxyethanol and 1,2-dibromo-2,4-dicyanobutane), PhE
Phenoxyethanol is used as a preservative in cosmetic products to limit bacterial growth. A review of 43 cosmetic products demonstrated that only 25 percent of the products had concentrations of phenoxyethanol greater than 0.6 percent and the mean concentration of phenoxyethanol was 0.46 percent. Phenoxyethanol is also used as to stabilize components found in perfumes and soaps.
HEALTH CONCERNS: Allergies, nervous system effects (infants) MORE…
VULNERABLE POPULATIONS: Individuals allergic to phenoxyethanol and breast-feeding infants.
REGULATIONS: The European Economic Community (EEC) Cosmetics Derivative and the Cosmetics Regulation of the European Union approved phenoxyethanol in concentrations up to one percent. 
HOW TO AVOID: Infants should not be exposed to cosmetic products containing Phenoxyethanol. If you are allergic, read labels and avoid personal care products and vaccines with phenoxyethanol and since parabens may enhance the allergic effects of phenoxyethanol, skip products containing both chemicals. If you are not allergic, phenoxyethanol is a relatively safe preservative in regard to chronic health effects.