Phenoxyethanol is found in many natural and even organic formula’s being used as a paraben free preservative. Indeed the Soil Association are even reported in our references, to permit its use in organic formulas at the mentioned ratio. We certainly recommend being paraben free but other chemicals being used may also be harmful and toxic to your system. Whatever you put on your skin gets absorbed into your body, so the often quoted ‘if you wouldn’t eat it, don’t put it on your skin’, is in our opinion, wisdom. Calculating risks of certain levels of toxicity, may seem ok in the eyes of some. That said, we are also living in times where toxicity is bombarding us in many ways. Foods, treated water, plastic containers, air pollution, prescription drugs….the list goes on. So wilfully adding to your body’s levels of toxicity is something that people really do need to consider.
Phenoxyethanol is very controversial, with both supporters and those vehemently against it. It has been reported to cause skin irritation, eye irritation, affected brain and nervous systems in animals (Journal of Industrial Hygiene and Toxicology) in moderate doses, endocrince disruption leading bladder damage and acute pulmonary edema in animal testing (American College of Toxicology 1990). Earlier studies suggested phenoxyethanol may cause DNA mutations and this was sourced from animal testing as human testing was not conducted. More recently the FDA advised a certain product was not used due to its phenoxyethanol content. FDA advised consumers against Mommy’s Bliss Nipple Cream. Phenoxyethanol, found in the cream, was depressing the central nervous system and causing vomiting and diarrhea in breast feeding infants. Symptoms of a depressed nervous system include a decrease in infant’s appetite, difficulty waking the infant, limpness of extremities and change in skin colour. There is no known health risk to the mother.
Phenoxyethanol is a scientifically proven irritant to human skin and eyes (Comparison of objective and sensory skin irritations of several cosmetic preservatives. Lee E, An S, Choi D, Moon S, Chang I. Contact Dermatitis. 2007 Mar;56(3):131-6.) and it is classified as irritant in European Union. Phenoxyethanol is also restricted for use in Japan.
We will of course leave any choice of its use up to you and we have added links below to some interesting articles which you would benefit from reading. Educating yourself should be paramount whilst ‘natural’ on labels can be so ambigious.