Solvent (substance that has the power to dissolve other substances), chemical preservative. It is a glycol ether (directly obtained from the distillation of petroleum). Although authorized in Europe, its toxicity has been proven.
Phenoxyethanol is used to prevent products from being contaminated with bacteria which would make them unfit for any use. It is also used as a stabilizer in perfumes and shampoos or hair conditioner.
2-Hydroxyethyl phenyl ether
BETA-HYDROXYETHYL PHENYL ETHER
Ethylene glycol monophenyl ether
ETHYLENE GLYCOL PHENYL ETHER
GLYCOL MONOPHENYL ETHER
Glycol Ether (around 80 known to date) are dangerous for humans (sterility, abnormalities in the duration or regularity of menstrual cycles, difficulty conceiving, spontaneous abortions, damage to the embryo, congenital malformations, etc.) .
In 2008, the INRS (National Institute for Research and Safety) published a toxicological sheet on phenoxyethanol. It indicates that this substance is easily absorbed through the skin and metabolized to phenoxyacetic acid, which can induce neurotoxic effects and neurological disorders. This harmful potential is all the more important as a glycol ether is easily absorbed through the skin when it is in liquid form (which is very frequently the case with cosmetics). It is also allergenic. It is absolutely not mandatory in the composition, it is quite possible to do without it and replace it with natural preservatives. However, it is very economical since it is an "oil waste".
Many countries still consider this ingredient to be safe and recent studies of the dangerousness have not yet caught on.
In the grooming environment
Phenoxyethanol is one of those many ingredients which should not touch your skin and should not come into contact with your eyes or be breathed in.
Wear eye protection and avoid prolonged or repeated skin contact.
Ventilate adequately otherwise wear suitable respiratory equipment.
Do not smoke, drink or eat while using.
Assessment of the risk associated with the use of phenoxyethanol in cosmetic products (ANSM report in French)