Free shipping on all orders over $39

Five Best products without phenoxyethanol

Reviewed by Marta October 8, 2008 21 Comments
Readers have been asking me to recommend some products that don't use the preservative phenoxyethanol. And with good reason. There are several animal studies that demonstrate that it is toxic - with effects on the brain and the nervous system - at moderate concentrations. In Japan, there is a concentration limit for its use in cosmetics. In Europe, the European Union classifies it as an irritant and there are various studies (on rabbit skin, for example) that demonstrate reactions at low doses.

I have pulled together some highly recommended products, serving different functions, and none of which has phenoxyethanol.

Tracie Martyn Amla Purifying Cleanser ($65). Tracie Martyn goes out of her way to avoid sulfates, parabens and formaldehyde-releasing preservatives. Her Amla cleanser is a standout product and I haven't yet found anything to beat it. It is wonderful for anyone with rosacea and/or sensitive skin. Amla is Indian gooseberry and a powerful antioxidant due to the tannins and polyphenols. This cleanser also has turmeric, a spice whose cosmetic purposes run the gamut from lightening skin to removing superfluous hair to curing eczema, psoriasis, and acne. Pricey, but it lasts for ages.

Replenix Retinol Plus Smoothing Serum 10X ($72). Over the counter retinol creams are mostly a sorry bunch, with very little vitamin A and lots of chemicals that you could happily live without. With a 1% concentration of retinol, Replenix Retinol Plus wisely keeps everything else stripped to the bare minimum. Hyaluronic acid will help with moisture retention and caffeine and green tea provide the antioxidants

Nutra-Lift Rejuvenating A Therapy ($40). This serum is great for what's in it as well as what isn't (no nasty preservatives here). This is one of the better matrixyl 3000 creams going, with a hefty 5% dose. Close your eyes and think of all the proven anti-agers. Whatever came to mind, Nutra-Lift probably has it. There's vitamin C, CoQ10, grape seed, astaxanthin, marine collagen and elastin, vitamin E.....I could go on and on.

Your Best Face Correct ($150). This is the best eye cream I have so far found. Honestly, the comments I get from friends since I started to use are almost embarrassingly complimentary. I even look as if I've had a little eye-lid lift (I haven't!). Another matrixyl 3000 product, this also has YBF's signature ingredient, spin trap, a molecule that stops free radicals in their tracks. Snap-8 is a neuropeptide that helps the facial muscles stay relaxed (so no squinting). Alpha arbutin is a skin brightener that inhibits melanin production. Your Best Face products can be bought from the TIA Shop.

Stem Organics Smooth Skin Exfoliant ($39).This is my new favorite and the gentle scrubbing ingredient is bamboo. It also contains Stem's two signature ingredients: pomegranate (an anti-oxidant with a clinical pedigree to prove it) and kakadu plum (an obscure Australian fruit that has more vitamin C than a gazillion oranges).

Ingredients in Tracie Martyn Amla Cleanser

Testingaqua (purified water), amla extract, sorbitol, coconut and soy amino acids, castor and soy hydrolized protein, decyl glucoside and lauryl lactylate, lactic acid, salicylic acid, ascorbic acid (vitamin c), malic acid, allantoin (comfrey), papaya enzymes, pineapple enzymes, silicon dioxide, honeysuckle extract, turmeric extract, spinach extract, blend of spearmint, lime and other natural essential oils.

Ingredients in Replenix Retinol Plus Smoothing Serum

Cyclopentasiloxane, Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Cyclomethicone, PEG/PPG
18/18 Dimethicone, Caffeine, Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Polyphenols,
Retinol, Polysorbate-20, Purified Water, Hyaluronic Acid.

Ingredients in Nutra-Lift Rejuventing Therapy

Certified Organic Aloe Vera Gel, Matrixyl 3000 at 5% (Palmitoyl
Oligopeptide, Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-7 PAL KTTKS), Vitamin C ester, sea
kelp / algae, liposomes, astaxanthin, grape seed extract, cetyl esters,
nikkomullese, co-Q10, pycogenol, natural mixed tocopherals (vitamin e),
anti-oxidant complex 14, natural firming complex (dmae, alpha lipoic
acid, vitamin C ester, & astaxanthin), fruit flower complex 12,
herbal complex 30, plant derived polysorbate 20,
hydroxyethyl-cellulose, hyaluronic acid, copper peptide, marine
collagen, marine elastine, organic royal jelly, Mexican yam, green tea,
active copper peptide , milk thistle, retinyl palmitate, ( vitamin A)

Ingredients in YBF Correct

Reverse osmosis water,
licorice root extract, snap-8 (acetyl glutamyl hexapeptide-3),
pepha-timp (polypeptide), cucumber extract, simugel (C16H34), syn-ake
(tripeptide), haloxyl (hydroxysuccinimide, chrysin, palmitoyl
oligopeptide (and) palmitoyl tetrapeptide-3), nutmeg butter, matrixyl
3000 (palmitoyl oligopeptide, palmitoyl tetrapeptide-3), dimethyl
isosorbide, alpha arbutin, cyclomethicone (and) dimethicone copolyol,
ethyhexyl palmitate, spin trap (phenyl butyl nitrone), glycerine,
l-proline, provitamin B5, raspberry seed extract, alpha lipoic acid,
sepilift DPHP (palmitoyl-1, palmitoyloxy-4 proline), triglyceride,
paraben du, sodium hyaluronate, caffeine, cetearyl isononanoate,
ceteareth-20, cetearyl alcohol, glyceryl stearate, cetyl palmitate,
ceteareth-12, vitamin e, BHT, olive leaf extract, vitamin a, violet
leaf extract, oakmoss absolute.

Ingredients in Stem Organics Smooth Skin Exfoliant

Organic Aloe Extract, Bamboo Extract, Vegetable Glycerin, Vegetable
Emulsifying Wax, Gylceryl Monostearate, Coco Glucoside (vegetable),
Organic Jojoba Oil, Guar Gum, Tasmanian Kelp Extract, Kakadu Plum
Extract, Organic Prunica Granatum (Pomegranate), D-alpha Tocopherol
(Vit E), Willowbark Extract, Sodium Hydroxymethylglycinate (amino acid
based preservative), Organic Sweet Orange Essential Oil, Tangerine
Essential Oil, Organic Geranium Essential Oil, Limonene (occuring in
essential oils), Bottle Brush Bush Essence, Organic Lemon Essential
Oil, Citric Acid.

  • November 29, 2015

    by kerry

    Would love an update to this best 5 since this one is from 2008! thanks!

  • May 1, 2015

    by Mariam

    So expensive :(

  • March 14, 2012

    by Sophia

    Thanks SammieB for mentioning Get Creamed Body (! I checked out their website and beauty reviews and their entire line is fantastic!! Not a single unpronounceable chemical in the bunch! My new go to everyone should look at: Get Creamed Body! They have a feature in LOULOU magazine this month too! Go Canadian companies!

  • December 6, 2011

    by Jina

    Hi CherylIM,
    Interested to hear why you had this test done? What symptoms did you have? My problem is that I seem to be sensitive to even aloe Vera gel because it has minute amount of phenoxyethonal. Irritates my skin. Look forward to hearing your comment.

  • December 5, 2011

    by CherylM

    FYI on phenoxyethanol: I had a very expensive lab test done by a lab in the UK called Acumen for health reasons. Surpised to find that I am chemically sensitive to phenoxyethanol AND it has attached to my cellular DNA, i.e., for me it has become a "DNA adduct." Adducts can cause DNA mutations and as we all know, mutations in DNA can cause cancer. Before this test I didn't even know about phenoxyethanol. If you think this chemical is not harmful - think again. Nothing should be attached to your DNA. Discovered it in ALL of my personal care products - cleanser, moisturizer (pricey brand by noted Dr.) , lotions and hair products. Threw ALL out! It is often found in "natural products." Every brand at WholeFoods has it except for Aubrey & Dr. Hauschka. We live awash in a sea of chemicals - and we take them for granted. I don't feel a need to debate this. With stuff already attached to my DNA I can not afford to wait for the debates to be resolved. I'm starting over and going clean. But it is hard. This darned chemical is in EVERYTHING!!!!!

Join the discussion! Leave a comment below.

My Comment

Add a comment...

-or- Cancel Comment
* Required Fields
truth in aging's five best

Truth In Aging's Five Best

The very best to choose from for your skin concerns.

Read More

truth in aging videos

Truth In Aging Videos

Helpful how-tos and reviews from Marta and friends.

Watch Now

meet our contributors

Meet Our Contributors

The TIA community consists of our trusted reviewers.

Meet Them

be inspired

Be Inspired

Inspiring thoughts and women who are aging gracefully.

Read More