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Phenoxyethanol, What Is It?

I get asked all kinds of questions all of the time. This week I received an email from someone who was concerned about an ingredient in our organic pressed mineral powder. This was an important question and well worth sharing.

The question was about phenoxyethanol, a preservative used by the beauty industry as a safe alternative to parabens and formaldehyde. There is a bunch of  info about it out there and with that a few misconceptions.

What is it?

Phenoxyethanol can be derived naturally from green tea, though this ingredient is typically produced in synthetic form. It is an important ingredient that works to prevent microorganisms from growing in your pressed powders. If you are using a pressed powder that does not contain this ingredient, then you owe it to yourself to ask the brand how they are preventing mold, bacteria and fungi from forming.

Why is it safe?

Levels of phenoxyethanol of 2.2% or lower have been tested to be completely non irritating and nontoxic. The percentage of phenoxyethanol in our pressed mineral powder is .05%, rendering it completely safe to use. Our every day use of coffee, cell phones, medication, alcohol, cleaning supplies & exposure to environmental pollutants is considerably more toxic. Phenoxyethanol has been referred to as “the darling” of the beauty industry because it offers a welcome alternative to parabens and formaldehyde.

Who’s doing the talking?

There are a lot of people out there who call themselves “beauty experts”. Truth be told most of them have never worked in the beauty industry, nor do they have other credentials making them an “expert”, but hey their opinions are out there. So much info either isn’t accurate, isn’t complete or merely states their personal opinion without painting the entire factual or scientific picture. While free speech is not a crime, it can sure make things rather confusing.

Why is this so confusing?

To make it more difficult, the FDA does not regulate ingredients or ingredient labeling in the cosmetics industry. As a result, we are all left to do our own research about what is and isn’t acceptable in our beauty products. That usually means confusing Google searches and taking to social media to find someone that’s talking about it. Thankfully there are some wonderful resources out there like Paula’s Choice which offers comprehensive explanations. Along with that, you must be mindful to purchase from companies like mine, who make a point to be transparent in their ingredient listings.

Have I discovered discrepancies and omissions on the ingredient labels of our competitors?

You betcha. However, it is not for me to be their conscience or to point fingers. All I can say is that you have the right to ask questions, just like our customer did earlier this week. We welcome questions from our clients and always do our best to clarify any confusions.

What’s right and what’s wrong?

We live in a society where information is a valuable commodity. Those capturing and sharing info (like Google, Yahoo and Facebook) have incredibly successful businesses. With that, comes information overload and the difficulty in understanding & sorting through it all. It’s not easy for any of us.

While information is a beautiful thing, keeping it in perspective is where our sanity lies. No one would suggest that you put a pound of salt on your dinner, yet any chef would agree that a sprinkle of salt will bring out the flavors of your meal perfectly. This is a good metaphor to help keep ingredients in perspective. As always, should you have any specific ingredient concerns it is always best to discuss them with your medical practitioner.

The clean beauty movement is vital and truly important to our overall good health. The beauty industry has needed to clean up it’s act for decades and I am grateful that it is finally happening! Yet, even with our new awareness about harmful ingredients, we still need to keep ourselves grounded on Mother Earth.

Most of us live in an urban or suburban environment and lead busy, multitasking lives. Unless you are a non smoking vegan nudist living off the grid in a blue zone on a self sustaining organic windmill farm with zero electronic devices & no motor vehicles then you are being exposed to and unconsciously consuming countless toxins on a daily basis. That is our earthly reality.

Making clean, green choices when and where we can is enormously helpful in promoting our good health and in reducing our daily toxic stressors. Adding to your stress about a safe level of a safe ingredient because Sally So and So Blogger said so, is not a good use of your precious time and energy. Besides, anyone blogging about toxins is using a computer or cell phone to do it and that in and of itself is a laughable form of hypocrisy. I’m sorry if that’s a little harsh, but it’s true. Living on Mother Earth and maintaining a modern lifestyle means a balanced, peaceable lifestyle of moderation, common sense, daily exercise & positive intentions.

I sure hope this helps to clarify the confusion around this particular ingredient. Please feel free to write me at if you have any further questions.

Here are other sites that offer great food for thought. Check them out.

Paula’s Choice
Sheer Miracle

Cancer Dot Gov


Dina Altieri
CEO & CoFo
Hush + Dotti