Phenoxyethanol is a preservative manufactured through a process by which phenol is treated with ethylene oxide (a colorless gas or liquid that is considered carcinogenic). Phenol is a mildly acidic white crystalline solid.
Phenoxyethanol grew to prominence as a replacement for parabens. “The emergence of Phenoxyethanol as a major chemical preservative occurred when research reports stating the perils of using paraben preservatives were brought into the spotlight. Many manufacturers found this chemical as a suitable alternative to paraben as it was easy to obtain and inexpensive too.” 
Phenoxyethanol is used as a preservative in a wide variety of cosmetics and skincare. It’s linked to skin and immune system toxicity and/or allergies.
While some agencies claim phenoxyethanol is safe at 1% or less, there’s no clear way to know when you’re breaching the 1% mark when layering with other products, which is why MADEWITH has excluded it altogether.
Furthermore, Phenoxyethanol is treated with Ethylene Glycol (a byproduct of Ethylene Oxide, which is also on our Never MADEWITH List).
 NIH. NCBI. Li DG1,2, Du HY2, Gerhard S3, Imke M3, Liu W2. Inhibition of TRPV1 prevented skin irritancy induced by phenoxyethanol. A preliminary in vitro and in vivo study. (2017). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27168163
 NIH. NCBI. The Potential Risk Assessment of Phenoxyethanol with a Versatile Model System. (2020). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31988350
 European Commission. French report recommending the further reduction of phenoxyethanol in products for children. Page 5. (2012). https://ec.europa.eu/health/scientific_committees/consumer_safety/docs/sccs_o_195.pdf
 EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). Listed on the United States Federal Register. Phenoxyethanol as an ingredient in pesticides. (2019). https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2019/09/27/2019-20529/2-phenoxyethanol-exemption-from-the-requirement-of-a-tolerance
 .The American Society of Contact Dermatitis. Core Allergens list. (2017). https://www.contactderm.org/UserFiles/file/2017_American_Contact_Dermatitis_Society_Core_Allergen.pdf
 Santa Cruz Biotechnology, Inc. Phenoxyethanol State of Hazardous Nature. http://datasheets.scbt.com/sc-238193.pdf
 The Derm Review. Phenoxyethanol. (2018). https://thedermreview.com/phenoxyethanol