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Phenoxyethanol (122-99-6)

Phenoxyethanol Chemical Structure

What is Phenoxyethanol?

Phenoxyethanol is an organic compound with the formula C6H5OC2H4OH. It is an aromatic ether which can be classified as a glycol ether and a phenol ether. It is both naturally found and manufactured synthetically. It is the most commonly used globally-approved preservative in personal care formulations.

Macsen Laboratories is the leading supplier of Phenoxyethanol with ISO certification.
Name of Product Phenoxyethanol
IUPAC Name 2-Phenoxyethan-1-ol
Synonyms Ethylene glycol monophenyl ether; Phenyl cellosolve; Phenoxethol; Phenoxytol; Phenoxytolarosol; Dowanol EP / EPH Protectol PE; Emery 6705; Rose ether
CAS No 122-99-6
Molecular Formula C8H10O2
Molecular Weight 138.16 g/mol
Pubchem CID 31236

Chemical Properties

SR. No Criteria Limit/Specification
1 Appearance (Form) Oily liquid
2 Appearance (Color) Colorless
3 Odor Faint aromatic odor
4 Solubility Soluble in alcohol, ether, alkali and chloroform
5 Density 1.102 g/cm3
6 Boiling Point 243-247 °C
7 Refractive Index 1.534 (20 °C)


The common uses of Phenoxyethanol are as follows-

  • It is widely used as a preservative in cosmetics such as creams, lotions, shampoos, and makeup, as well as in some pharmaceuticals and vaccines.
  • In some products such as soaps and perfumes, phenoxyethanol serves as a stabilizer and helps stabilize ingredients, preventing them from reacting with each other or degrading over time.
  • It has germicidal and germistatic properties, making it a good choice for products such as hand sanitizers and wound cleansers.
  • It is also used as a perfume fixative, as an antiseptic, and as a solvent for cellulose acetate, dyes, inks, and resins.
  • Though not its primary use, phenoxyethanol has been found to have some effectiveness as an insect repellent ingredient.
  • Additionally, it is used as an anesthetic in fish aquaculture.

Side effects

While phenoxyethanol is generally considered safe for use in many consumer products when used within recommended concentrations (typically up to 1% in cosmetic formulations), some individuals may experience side effects or adverse reactions, particularly with high concentrations or prolonged exposure. The possible side effects associated with phenoxyethanol include:

The use of products containing phenoxyethanol should be avoided in individuals allergic to it, in pregnant and breastfeeding women, and in children under the age of 3 years.


Q. Is phenoxyethanol safe for skin?

Phenoxyethanol is generally considered safe for skin. Regulatory bodies around the world, including the USFDA and the European Union’s Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (SCCS), have evaluated the safety of phenoxyethanol and approved its use as a preservative in cosmetics in concentration limit upto 1%.

Q. Is phenoxyethanol a paraben?

Phenoxyethanol is not a paraben. While both phenoxyethanol and parabens are used as preservatives in cosmetic and personal care products, they are chemically distinct compounds.

Q. What is phenoxyethanol made from?

Phenoxyethanol is produced by the hydroxyethylation of phenol (Williamson synthesis), for example, in the presence of alkali-metal hydroxides or alkali-metal borohydrides.

Q. Can phenoxyethanol cause cancer?

The Cosmetic Ingredient Review has determined that phenoxyethanol is safe for use in skin care in approved concentrations. Its carcinogenic potential has not been supported by any evidence.

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