Why preservatives matter?
Skin cream that will be used daily directly to your skin should not only work as designed, but it must be safe to use! Skin creams are often handled by more than one person and sometimes hands are not properly washed before use! So first announcement: make sure you use clean hands when spreading your creams! My daughters (3yo and 5yo), for example, are always sticking their fingers into the KPAway jars then lathering up, repeating, and once in a while our cat finds himself covered with a little cream too!
In 2019 the Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereaology (JEADV) published a nice review of Phenoxyethanol. I will quote it here: (link)
Phenoxyethanol, or 2-phenoxyethanol, has a large spectrum of antimicrobial activity and has been widely used as a preservative in cosmetic products for decades. It is effective against various Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacteria, as well as against yeasts, and has only a weak inhibitory effect on resident skin flora. According to the European Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety, phenoxyethanol is safe for all consumers – including children of all ages – when used as a preservative in cosmetic products at a maximum concentration of 1%. Adverse systemic effects have been observed in toxicological studies on animals but only when the levels of exposure were many magnitudes higher (around 200-fold higher) than those to which consumers are exposed when using phenoxyethanol-containing cosmetic products. Despite its widespread use in cosmetic products, phenoxyethanol is a rare sensitizer. It can be considered as one of the most well-tolerated preservatives used in cosmetic products.