What is Phenoxyethanol?
Phenoxyethanol is a glycol which is used as a preservative in the making of cosmetic products and medicines. It is actually a kind of ether alcohol with aromatic properties that can also optimize the scent of any skin product.
Available in certain natural products, such as chicory and green tea, this substance, in its organic form, is a colourless, oily liquid. Nonetheless, Phenoxyethanol can also be manufactured artificially for several purposes. When made in the lab, this substance possesses a very powerful chemical of the highest purity that is often used as an additive in the cosmetic industry as it helps preserve the products it has been added to.
Chemically speaking, this compound can be broken into ethylene, phenyle, ether, and glycol. In addition, this chemical is known by several other names including Phenoxytol, Phenoxethol, Rose ether, Phenyle cellosolve, and Ethylene glycol monophenyl ether.
A Star is Born
Phenoxyethanol began to be used as an alternative to the formerly popular Paraben preservatives. When awareness was raised concerning the dangers of using this substance, specialists began to look for suitable alternatives and Phenoxyethanol rose as a fine choice.
Since this chemical compound is simple to obtain and more inexpensive than other alternatives; it found a straight road to the list of ingredients of most present-day cosmetic products.
Phenoxyethanol and its Benefits
Apart from its fixative and preservative properties, Phenoxyethanol provides antimicrobial properties against yeast, mold and bacteria. Since this quality was discovered, it began to be used as a preservative against germ contamination in bottled products.
Additionally, this compound has been found to posses anaesthetic properties as well. By allowing temporary reduction in sensation when it is applied on a painful area, Phenoxyethanol has been also listed as a top ingredient in products used as a preparation for further cosmetic treatments.
One of the main advantages of using this substance is that it has been found to be less toxic than other alternatives, such as sodium azide, traditionally used in skin care products.
Phenoxyethanol and its Downsides
Despite its many benefits, this compound has been found to have some dangers associated its consumption. To begin with, research suggests that Phenoxyethanol causes damage to the brain cells and the central nervous system when used is great amounts. However, this is not the only side effect reported among users. Skin irritation and allergic reactions, such as dermatitis, lung inflammation and eye irritation, are also frequent, especially among people who have been exposed to this substance for long periods.
Finally, perhaps the scariest counter effect of this substance concerns its use among nursing mothers. A German study conducted several years ago, suggest that this substance may cause genetic and chromosomal mutation, thus the warning against its use when breastfeeding. Even when the amount of Phenoxyethanol found in most cosmetic products is small, there is still no certainty regarding how much can be transmitted when breastfeeding.
In all, this substance has been proved to be useful and practical. However, when choosing cosmetic products with Phenoxyethanol, it is best to choose those that contain a minimum amount.