At Lush, we strive to remove synthetic preservatives from our formulas and make everything self-preserving. However, some formulas still need preservatives to work efficiently on the skin and hair without turning after a few days. This is where phenoxyethanol is useful as it prolongs the shelf life of cosmetic products by limiting the growth of bacteria.
We make fresh, handmade products, and by minimising the time between the preparation of the product and its sale, we reduce the need for preservatives. We also prefer making products that are meant to be used fresh (but always lasting long enough for you to fully enjoy), rather than adding large quantities of synthetic preservatives.
Many factors come into play when deciding which preservatives to use: the type of product, its structure, the manufacturing process, the ingredients, and the application. Using this information and microbiological tests during product development, the appropriate preservative is then selected, whether natural or synthetic.
Phenoxyethanol is a clear liquid with a faint rose scent (which is why it is sometimes referred to as ‘rose ether’). Not only a preservative, it also acts as a solvent - blending well with other ingredients.
Used in cosmetics since the 1950s, it has a long history of safe use, is considered readily biodegradable and unlikely to accumulate in living organisms, as long as it is used in reasonable quantities. This is why EU regulations allow phenoxyethanol to make up no more than 1% of a product, whether it’s made to be left-on or rinsed-off.