Phenoxyethanol (EU), or PE, is the most commonly used globally-approved preservative in personal care formulations. It is extremely easy to use in most types of formulations and is chemically very stable. PE is a colorless, clear, oily liquid with a faint aromatic odor at room temperature and a low water solubility and evaporation rate. It is produced by reacting phenol (EU) and ethylene oxide (EU) at an elevated temperature and pressure and occurs naturally in green tea (EU).
The first widespread use of PE was in a preservative blend called Phenonip™ (EU) (Nipa Labs, now Clariant (EU)) which was formulated in combination with parabens (EU). PE became extremely popular after Denmark banned parabens in cosmetic products for children under 3 on December 10, 2010. On May 3, 2011 the French National Assembly voted to pass a bill of law that would immediately ban the use of phthalates (EU), alkylphenols (EU) and parabens in consumer and professional products. The trend towards formulating with globally-approved, non-formaldehyde-releasing preservatives also accelerated its use.
- The Cosmetic Ingredient Review expert panel concluded that PE is safe as a cosmetic ingredient
- Stable to aqueous hydrolysis
- PE is nonionic and effective in anionic and cationic systems.
- Solubility in water 2.6%
- Effective at PH 3-12
- Stable at temperatures >100ºC
- BP 245ºC
- MP 14ºC
- Density 1.102
Antimicrobial activity (% minimum inhibition concentration)
PE has broad spectrum antimicrobial activity against bacteria, yeasts, and mold. The typical use level in formulations is .5 – .8%, and it is often combined with other preservatives, like Ethylhexylglycerin (EU), Hexylene glycol (EU), or Capryl glycol (EU). I also recommend adding a chelator like Disodium EDTA (EU) or Sodium Phytate (EU) to boost activity.
- Escherichia coli (bacteria gram negative) -.32%
- Pseudomonas aeruginosa (bacteria gram negative) -.32%
- Staphylococcus aureus (bacteria gram positive) -.64%
- Aspergillus niger (mold) -.32%
- Candida albicans (yeast) -.32%
- Phenoxetol™ (Clariant)
- Optiphen™ PO (Ashland)
- Purolan® PE (Lanxess Distribution)
- Phenoxyethanol (Tri K/Galaxy)
Products and Suppliers in Europe: Phenoxetol™ (Clariant) | Optiphen™ PO (Ashland) | Purolan® PE (Lanxess Distribution) | Phenoxyethanol (Tri K/Galaxy)
Commercially available Phenoxyethanol blends (many claim synergism)
- Nipaguard™ SCP (Sorbitan Caprylate, Phenoxyethanol-Clariant)
- euxyl® K 700 (Phenoxyethanol, Benzyl Alcohol, Potassium Sorbate, Aqua-Schülke)
- euxyl® K 701 (Phenoxyethanol, Benzoic Acid, Dehydroacetic Acid, Ethylhexylglycerin-Schülke)
- euxyl® PE 9010 (Phenoxyethanol, Ethylhexylglycerin-Schülke)
- euxyl® K 703 (Phenoxyethanol, Benzoic Acid, Dehydroacetic Acid-Schülke)
- Nipaguard™ PO 5 (Phenoxyethanol, Piroctone Olamine, Water-Clariant)
- Nipaguard™ POB (Phenoxyethanol, Benzoic Acid, Piroctone Olamine-Clariant)
- Optiphen® Plus (Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol, Sorbic Acid-Ashland)
- Microcare® PHD (Decylene Glycol, Phenoxyethanol-Thor Specialties)
- Sharon Biomix Clear (Phenoxyethanol, Glycerine, Citrus Reticulata Fruit Extract, Citrus Aurantium Amara Fruit Extract, Citrus Sinensis Peel Extract, Ascorbic acid, Citric acid, Lactic acid, Aqua-Sharon Labs)
- Mikrokill® COS (Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol, Chlorphenesin –Lonza)
Products and Suppliers in Europe: Nipaguard™ SCP, Nipaguard™ PO 5, Nipaguard™ POB (Clariant) | euxyl® K 700, euxyl® K 701, euxyl® PE 9010, euxyl® K 703 (Schülke) | Optiphen® Plus (Ashland) | Sharon Biomix Clear (Sharon Labs) | Mikrokill® COS (Lonza)
View all phenoxyethanol listings in Prospector (EU)…
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16 Responses to “Phenoxyethanol: A Globally-Approved Preservative”
A small point of correction; Aspergillus niger is now classified as Aspergillus brasiliensis.
Thanks for sharing the knowledge base regarding Phenoxyethanol. We are into ayurvedic & natural cosmetics in india. Is this only sufficient for our emulsions, masks, shampoos etc. ?
Due to its faint aromatic odor, we have realized that in some products this odor can change the olfactive profile of the fragrances used in the products. So, it´s important evaluate the fragrance perfomance before change the actual preservative system to PE.
For broader spectrum of antimicrobial activity and economy, it is promising to use PE is combination with a preservative booster, like as glyceryl caprylate/caprate or hexylene glycol mentioned above, or a cationic synergist.
In ayurvedic cosmetics PE can be used also in combination with aldehyde-reach vegetable extracts known as ‘natural’ preservatives.
Is it Phenonip forbidden in EU beacuse of methylparaben?
Phenonip is forbidden in Europe because of the presence of Isobutylparaben, ingredient classified in Annex II (list of substances prohibited in cosmetic products) of Regulation 1223/2009 by Regulation No 358/2014 of 9th April 2014.
Great snapshot of this chemistry!
Noticed Dow’s Phenoxyethanol range weren’t listed as another potential source.
Check out NEOLONE PH 100 and NEOLONE PE.
Dow Microbial Control.
I AM INTERESTED IN RECEVE YOUR PUBLISHED
There is a new Phenonip available (without Isobutylparaben) called Phenonip P4
There is a problem about amounts while PE dosage increases to 0.3% in facial mask product that shows hot feeling on skin. Is somebody could answer me ?
PE can cause irritation at .3% depending on what other ingredients are in the formulation. You may want to try using .5% Symdiol 68 with .1% Disodium EDTA.
Can only phenoxyethanol enough to preserve homemade/ handmade lotions and scrubs?
It kills me when Skin Care Companies say they are Paraben “FREE” When they use this chemical and they are really not!
When Direct selling companies say that they are “PARABEN FREE” and FREE of all CHEMICALS!!! IF YOUR GOING TO BE A NEW CONSULTANT OF A DIRECT MARKETING COMPANY, KNOW WHATS IN YOUR PRODUCT BEFORE YOU SIGN YOUR CONTRACT!!!!
Be Wise ladies and gents, I have just spent the last 2 hrs, getting to know a competitors ingrediants in their products, and I’m shocked why some people don’t read the ingrediants more before they put on their bodies. Remember your skin is your largest organ and its made up of water. When you put any type of a harsh chemical on your skin, where does it go? When the first ingredient in a skin care line is water, how well do you think your skin is absorbing the actual product.
Be smart on what is going on your skin….read the labels just like how you read the labels of food!!!
Thank you for the summary of Phenoxyethanol. Do you have references for the information presented above? Particularly for the antimicrobial activity numbers and properties?
PHENONIP P4 is oil soluble or water soluble?