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While searching for phenoxyethanol in my house, I ended up finding it, along with parabens and a few other toxic ingredients, in some of my natural and organic baby products. You can imagine my horror and disbelief that I had been using these products on my son for the past few months. I had gotten into the pattern of believing that Whole Foods carried better products than Walmart and that if it said it was organic or natural, well, it was. I was dead wrong. Organic and Natural labels have a gray area; they can still use a small degree of toxins while misleading the general public into believing they’re purchasing something healthier and better for their bodies. Stupidly, I believed the label and stopped checking the ingredients. I’ll never do that again.

Here is what I found in the following baby products I had in my home that I believed were safe:

Little Twig Bodymilk lotion (Phenoxyethanol HS 4-It even states made with organic ingredients and says it is ideal for sensitive skin! It also contains two more, less toxic ingredients)

Hyland’s Homeopathic Teething Gel (Methylparaben HS 10 and Propylparaben HS 5 but no phenoxyethanol. Actually worse to have those two ingredients than the pheoxyethanol. And this enters his blood stream immediately as it is placed right on his gums! Can you believe it is a Homeopathic remedy?)

Arbonne Baby Care Body Oil (Propylparaben HS 5)
Arbonne Baby Care Hair & Body Wash (Triethanolamine HS 6, Methylchoroisothiazolinone HS 6, Methylisothiazolinone HS 6, Methylparaben HS 10 and several other toxins)
Arbonne Baby Care Body lotion (Methylparaben HS 10Propylparaben HS 5, Tocopheryl Acetate HS 4, Disodium EDTA HS 3, Diazolidinyl Urea HS 5, Triethanolamine HS 6, and several other toxins)

Aura Cacia Baby Baby Lotion with pure organic lavender oil (Tocopheryl Acetate HS 4 and Disodium EDTA HS 3)

Nature Babycare baby wipes (Phenoxyethanol HS 4)

Fortunately, I hadn’t been using all of these products, but I was still shocked to see the crap in these misleading natural or organic products. I had used the Hyland’s teething gel a handful of times, the Little Twig lotion on occasion, but the Nature Babycare wipes were a staple in our everyday life. I had actually just put in an order to Amazon for a 10 pack of wipes when I realized that phenoxyethanol was an ingredient. I immediately went to Nature Babycare’s website and found that they are a company based in Sweden and follow the E.U. standards. I found their contact information and wrote them the following:

Från: Holly
Skickat: den 25 februari 2010 21:29
Till: Customer Service mailgrupp
Ämne: Customer Service


I have been researching the ingredients in wipes and found that you use phenoxyethanol in your wipes. It is considered a hazard risk of between 4-8 on I have purchased the fragrance free wipes and don’t understand how this product could be considered 100% all natural with this toxic ingredient in it. I know you have to follow the E.U. standards and so I’m concerned about this. Can you give me some more information on this? How much is used in the wipes?



On March 3rd they finally responded back with this:

Hi Holly,   Thank you for taking the time to contact us.

Phenoxyethanol is a common preservative that is used throughout the industry.  Phenoxyethyanol is found on the EU Cosmetics Directive List of Preservatives Allowed in Cosmetic Products in a concentration less than 1%.  It is this concentration level that many manufacturers work towards. However, the amount of phenoxyethanol in Nature Babycare products is well below that max level, in fact, we have less than half of the allowed concentration in our products. In regard to your internet information, here’s another website that states that typical concentrations are 0.1%  (That’s 1/10 of one percent) Without phenoxyethanol, bacteria could grow and that would certainly not be acceptable to use on you or your child’s skin. Marlene has intensely pursued the most natural approach possible to her Nature babycare product line that is good for your baby’s skin and the environment.  For example, some wipes contain silicone to make them “slide” better on the skin.  Marlene, however, doesn’t use silicones in her wipes.

Please be assured that Nature Babycare’s award-winning wipes are safe for your baby and for the environment.

All the Best,

Nature babycare USA

I wasn’t satisfied with Stephanie’s answer and went to the link she provided me. Can you believe it is a link directly for purchasing phenoxyethanol! You can buy it direct from the manufacturer for $6.06 for a 2 oz. bottle. To my surprise, you can download the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS). I am still in awe that she sent me to this link as the MSDS, provided by the company, goes on to explain all of the safety precautions you should take when working with this toxin and all of the problems that can arise from using the product. Here’s what it had to say on Personal Protection, Hazards and First Aid Measures:

Respiratory Protection: If airborne concentrations pose a health hazard, become irritating or exceed recommended limits, use a NIOSH approved respirator in accordance with OSHA respiratory protection requirements under 29 CFR 1910.134.
Eye Protection: Chemical splash goggles
Protective Clothing: Clothing suitable to prevent skin contact, neoprene or nitrile gloves.

Hazards Identification General: A mild skin irritant and a moderate to severe eye irritant which may cause serious damage to the eyes. Systemic effects observed in animals include hemolysis, kidney, and liver damage, central nervous system depression, and lesions in brain, lungs, and liver. Contact with lips, tongue, and mucous membranes can result in numbness due to local anesthetic effect. Moderately toxic by acute ingestion resulting in gastrointestinal irritation with nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, with possible liver and kidney injury.

First Aid Measures
Eyes: Immediately flush under running water for at least 15 minutes, occasionally lifting upper and lower eyelids. Seek medical attention.
Skin: Remove contaminated clothing. Wash thoroughly with soap and water for 15 minutes. If contact has been widespread or prolonged, or if irritation occurs, seek medical attention. Wash clothing before reuse.
Inhalation: Get victim to fresh air. Give artificial respiration or oxygen if breathing has stopped. Get prompt medical attention. Do not give fluids if victim is unconscious.
Ingestion: Drink large quantities of water. Do not induce vomiting. Seek immediate medical attention. Never give anything by mouth to an unconscious person.

Signs of overexposure may also include central nervous system depression characterized by excitement, followed by headache, dizziness, and drowsiness. Advanced stages may cause collapse, unconsciousness, coma, and possible death. Brief contact with undiluted material may cause slight irritation. Repeated prolonged and widespread contact may result in significant skin irritation and the possible absorption of potentially harmful amounts. Beyond the skin irritation, additional signs and symptoms of toxicity would be similar to ingestion. Inhalation of vapors at elevated temperatures or mists may cause irritation of the nose and upper respiratory tract. Contact with eyes causes moderate to severe eye irritation including possible corneal injury. Based on animal studies, may cause developmental toxicity under conditions of overexposure. Little or no adverse environmental effects are anticipated. MSDS

And Nature Babycare sent me that information and thought that I’d be okay with it.
If this is what happens when you work with it outright, how can it possibly be safe to put 1%, or even less than half of that amount, in any kind of product, let alone a baby product that is used on bare skin? And skin that may or may not have a rash or open sores, as most babies have? So, a drop, or half a drop, or even an eighth of a drop of phenoxyethanol, is on each wipe and I should be okay to wipe my child with it? I, for one, neither can nor will do that to my child. I really felt bad after reading her email and realizing that I had used this product for about 3 months and never knew what I was doing. How many more parents are out there doing the same and believing this company’s misleading advertising?
If you think I’m overreacting, here is what phenoxyethanol does when it enters our body (this reiterates what the MSDS states to be true):
Phenoxyethanol breaks down to phenol and acetaldehyde, acetaldehyde converts to acetate. Phenol can disable the immune system’s primary response mechanism. Given that, it is at best ironic, that phenoxyethanol is used as an anti-bacterial in vaccines. Acetaldehyde occurs during the breakdown of ethanol, (alchohol and 2-phenoxyETHANOL), it is a suspected carcinogen. Inhalation studies have shown irritation of the eyes, skin, and respiratory tract.”

“However, several animal studies clearly demonstrate toxicity of phenoxyethanol, which causes damaging effects on the brain and the nervous system, even at moderate concentrations. As a cosmetic ingredient, phenoxyethanol is restricted in Japan and the European Union. Even the U.S. EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) data sheets show “chromosomal changes and genetic mutation effects in testing as well as testicular atrophy and reproductive damage in mice.”

In cosmetic formulations, phenoxyethanol is used to kill bacteria and stabilize the formulation. It’s often combined with polyquaterniums to balance its acidity. While it’s theoretically possible to derive phenoxyethanol from natural sources, beauty industry prefers a cheap synthetic phenoxyethanol that can be bought very cheaply from China.”

People may say that I’m being picky, but it is my right to research and uncover what I feel could be potentially harming my family. As I delve in, I find more and more that causes concern. I don’t want any kind of toxin entering my body or my kid’s bodies. For me, this toxin is one that I will now avoid at all costs. I have a few more ingredients that I have to research before I can confirm where they come from (synthetic or plant derived) and if they are truly safe. Some of the natural ingredients can be harmful and toxic to our bodies as well. I have to really understand what is okay and what is too much. Where do I draw the line? I’m still trying to determine that as so many products have mild natural toxins in them that score a Hazard Score of 1 or 2. Should I trust what I am reading? Should I trust that a HS of 1 or 2 is okay and they are mildly toxic? You can see my dilemma.

As for now I have switched over to using Earth’s Best Organic wipes. More to come on alternative options. Check back tomorrow to see what else you can do to protect your child.

Medical Disclaimer: Certain sections of this Blog deal with health and medical related issues.  Always seek the advice of a trained health professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before seeking any treatment. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking medical treatment due to information obtained on Any information received from this blog is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure. This site is for information purposes only. The information on this blog is not intended to replace proper medical care.

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