Consumers are always waiting to jump on the bandwagon of social awareness regarding potentially dangerous ingredients. At this point in time “Parabens”, “GMO” and “Sulfates” are commonly known words that inflict instant fear. What is is all about? All these things are believed to harm reproductive health and lead to cancer .
One thing I’ve been reading about lately is “Phenoxyethanol”. I had to share what I’ve learned because it’s literally in just about every single cosmetic and skincare product I own.
I’ve read many lists online of “Ingredients to avoid” but this is rarely listed.
What is “Phenoxyethanol”?
In the cosmetics industry, Phenoxyethanol is used as a stabiliser in perfumes and as a preservative. (paiskincare.com)
There are many mixed reviews online, but coincidentally many of the positive reviews are coming from companies that use the product themselves and would lose profit if people boycotted the ingredient (such as Paula’s Choice and The Honest Company).
While it’s true that full testing results have been inconclusive, here are some facts (taken from sourced articles via Wiki):
Phenoxyethanol is an alternative to standard, potentially harmful formaldehyde-releasing preservatives.
In 2005–06, methyldibromoglutaronitrile/ phenoxyethanol was the ninth-most-prevalent allergen in patch tests(5.8%).
The Food and Drug Administration has warned that the chemical is toxic to infants via ingestion, and “can depress the central nervous system and may cause vomiting and diarrhea.” Combined with Chlorphenesin, these two chemicals can cause respiratory depression in infants. Since these chemicals are often present in cosmetics and lotions applied to the hands and are easily ingested, caution should be exercised.
German research in 1999, concluded that it had neurotoxin potential, but in a concentration-dependent manner.
The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) data sheets show chromosomal changes and genetic mutation effects in testing as well as testicular atrophy and interference with reproductivity in mice for other Glycol Ethers, although Phenoxyethanol is not mentioned in the abstract. 
What you should be aware of:
1. It has dangerous neurotoxin properties only in high concentrations. If your product contains Phenoxyethanol but it is one of the very last ingredients listed you’re probably fine, it’s in a very low concentration.
2. Something can be labeled hypoallergenic and all natural but still contain Phenoxyethanol.
3. It’s equally as dangerous as parabens (which are not all that dangerous to be quite honest). Seeing a product boast about being “paraben-free” while containing Phenoxyethanol is a total oxymoron.
4. Many companies are looking to find an alternative ingredient that can also kill bacteria and mold.
5. It’s bad enough to be banned from European ECOCERT companies.
6. You’re not going to die if you use it, but try to avoid it if you can and especially if it’s high on the ingredient list.
Read your product labels like you do for food. Also, don’t be a jerk and warn about dangers of ingredients while eating Kraft food and drinking Diet Coke.
Cancer is so prevalent now because of our lifestyles and what we are ingesting. It’s nearly impossible to be completely green but try to stay informed and make the best decisions you can.