Ethylhexylglycerin at a glance

  • Skin-softening agent with mild humectant (hydration boosting) properties
  • Multitasks with preservative capabilities to improve formulary stability
  • Also popular in deodorants where it has an inhibiting effect on odor-causing bacteria
  • Proven track record of safety
  • Pale to colourless liquid as a raw material

Ethylhexylglycerin description

Ethylhexylglycerin is a synthetic skin-softening agent. Ethylhexylglycerin can also be used as a preservative and carrier/suspending agent that boosts the efficacy of other preservatives such as phenoxyethanol. It has been shown to have mild humectant properties leading to improved skin hydration without a sticky feel. Ethylhexylglycerin is also popular in deodorant formulas where it has an inhibiting effect on odor-causing bacteria. Antibacterial action is also where it earns its keep as a preservative, but since it isn’t effective against other type of pathogens, it would always be used with more broad-spectrum preservatives. As a raw material, ethylhexylglycerin is a pale to colourless liquid. It is formed by a condensation reaction between 2-ethyhexanol (an oil-like ingredient) and glycerine. In 2013, the Cosmetic Ingredient Review Expert Panel deemed ethylhexylglycerin as safe used in up to 8% concentration in rinse-off products and up to 2% in leave-on formulas. Studies regarding sensitisation patch tests of 5% ethylhexylglycerin show that reactions to this ingredient are very rare and their occurrence in a broad population is considered low risk.

Ethylhexylglycerin references

  • PLoS One, October 2016, ePublication
  • Contact Dermatitis, May 2016, pages 281-288
  • International Journal of Toxicology, September 2013, pages 5S-21S
  • Personal Care, 2008, pages 1-4
  • Cosmetic Science Technology, 2006, pages 1-11

Peer-reviewed, substantiated scientific research is used to assess ingredients in this dictionary. Regulations regarding constraints, permitted concentration levels and availability vary by country and region.

Ingredient ratings


Proven and supported by independent studies. Outstanding active ingredient for most skin types or concerns.


Necessary to improve a formula's texture, stability, or penetration.


Generally non-irritating but may have aesthetic, stability, or other issues that limit its usefulness.


There is a likelihood of irritation. Risk increases when combined with other problematic ingredients.


May cause irritation, inflammation, dryness, etc. May offer benefit in some capability but overall, proven to do more harm than good.


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Not Rated