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Ethylhexylglycerin is an alkyl glyceryl ether. This means that the ethylhexyl group is bound to glycerin at one end by an ether linkage. Although they are also alkyl glyceryl ethers, Batyl Alcohol and Chimyl Alcohol (may also be called Cetyl Glyceryl Ether) have traditionally been used as cosmetic labeling names for these alkyl glyceryl ethers. Glyceryl Lauryl Ether and Isostearyl Glyceryl Ether are also alkyl glyceryl ethers that may be used in cosmetic products. Despite the different types of names for these ingredients, they all consist of an alkyl group bound to glycerin by an ether linkage. Ethylhexylglycerin and the other alkyl glyceryl ether ingredients may be used in bath products, body and hand products, cleansing products, deodorants, eye makeup, foundations, hair care products and suntan products.
Ethylhexylglycerin is a relatively new cosmetic ingredient that is used for its surfactant, emollient, skin-conditioning and antimicrobial properties. Since 2002, it has been occasionally reported as a contact allergen.
Aerts, O., Verhulst, L., & Goossens, A. (2016). Ethylhexylglycerin: a low-risk, but highly relevant, sensitizer in ‘hypo-allergenic’cosmetics. Contact dermatitis, 74(5), 281-288.
Preservatives are added to cosmetics to protect the consumers from infections and prevent product spoilage. The concentration of preservatives should be kept as low as possible and this can be achieved by adding potentiating agents. The aim of the study was to investigate the mechanisms behind potentiation of the bactericidal effect of a commonly used preservative, 2-phenoxyethanol (PE), by the potentiating agent ethylhexylglycerin (EHG). Sub-lethal concentrations of EHG (0.075%) and PE (0.675%) in combination led to rapid killing of E. coli (> 5 log reduction of cfu after 30 min), leakage of cellular constituents, disruption of the energy metabolism, morphological deformities of cells and condensation of DNA. Used alone, EHG disrupted the membrane integrity even at low concentrations. In conclusion, sub-lethal concentrations of EHG potentiate the effect of PE through damage of the cell membrane integrity. Thus, adding EHG to PE in a 1:9 ratio has a similar effect on membrane damage and bacterial viability as doubling the concentration of PE. This study provides insight about the mechanism of action of a strong potentiating agent, EHG, which is commonly used in cosmetics together with PE.
Langsrud, S., Steinhauer, K., Lüthje, S., Weber, K., Goroncy-Bermes, P., & Holck, A. L. (2016). Ethylhexylglycerin Impairs Membrane Integrity and Enhances the Lethal Effect of Phenoxyethanol. PloS one, 11(10), e0165228.