Phenoxyethanol and Ethoxydiglycol: why are they in our Vitamin C Serum?

posted in: Q&A

Phenoxyethanol is a perfume fixative, antiseptic, and preservative that’s common in cosmetics. Ethoxydiglycol is considered a “penetration enhancer” when used in cosmetics, which is to say it’s a solvent that keeps our Vitamin C Serum in the optimal consistency. One of the goals of re[Fresh] is to be as natural as possible in the products we produce. But Phenoxyethanol and Ethoxydiglycol are not natural ingredients, and we’re not trying to hide that.

The EWG Rating

Phenoxyethanol is not a paraben, and its rating on the EWG is not concerning. The EWG is the Environmental Working Group, a coalition focused on asking questions and giving consumers the tools for making intentional and safe choices for themselves and the environment. The EWG considers Phenoxyethanol to be of a very low concern, and Ethoxydiglycol is given the “best” or least concerned rating of a 1.


The EU and Preservatives

Refresh sells to most every country in the world, but sometimes that means catering to policies in regards to things like preservatives. The EU is firm on their stance about preservatives. No cosmetic or skincare products can be sold in the EU without preservatives, whether the products claim to be all natural or not. Without the preservative and antiseptic nature of phenoxyethanol our Vitamin C Serum could become a breeding ground for dangerous bacteria.


So why isn’t it in our other products?

So, if Phenoxyethanol and Ethocydiglycol aren’t parabens, and aren’t concerns for the EWG why aren’t they in our other serums and products?


These preservatives are best described as a “necessary evil” in our estimation. The Vitamin C serum has a higher pH balance than the rest of our serums and peels do. In the other cases, the acidity is high enough to act as its own preservative and prevents bacterial growth. The same can’t be said for our Vitamin C formula. When it came down to it we faced a choice between compromising quality or adding these ingredients. We chose the ingredients, and transparency.