We use preservatives to keep home and personal care products in good condition: without them, they could be spoiled by bacteria, yeasts and moulds. We choose our preservative ingredients carefully, making sure they are safe and effective for people who use our products.

Phenoxyethanol is a clear, colourless liquid with a faint rose odour, which occurs naturally but is more usually synthetic. It is one of the most common preservatives used in personal care products. It is safe, effective and used across a wide range of products.

Your questions answered

What Unilever products use phenoxyethanol?

We use phenoxyethanol across our personal care product range, including moisturisers, cleansers, soaps, cleansing wipes and baby skin creams. We also use it in some laundry liquid detergents.

Is phenoxyethanol safe for all age groups?

Phenoxyethanol has a proven track record as a safe and effective preservative. Different preservatives work better in different products and phenoxyethanol is particularly effective in mild formulations, which are best for babies.

Our safety assessments show that phenoxyethanol is an effective and safe cosmetic product preservative for all ages, up to a 1% concentration level. This is in line with the levels permitted by the European Union regulations. 

Effective preservatives are especially vital in products for children, since they are particularly vulnerable to infection. Based on existing scientific evidence, when used within the set safety level phenoxyethanol is entirely safe for all ages, including young children. As with all the ingredients we use in home and personal care products, we always monitor emerging scientific research and regulatory developments.

Did you know?

Phenoxyethanol occurs naturally in green tea and chicory.

“Phenoxyethanol is safe and effective at the designated levels in personal care products and cosmetics … and its safety has been extensively documented both in terms of effects on human health and the environment.”

Phenoxyethanol as a Safe and Important Preservative in Personal Care J Krowka et al, Cosmetics & Toiletries (online: Apr 23, 2014); print 129(5) 24-27 (Jun 2014)
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