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Benzyl Benzoate

Today's Chemical:

Benzyl Benzoate

EWG Risk Score:


What is it:

Benzyl benzoate is a synthetic chemical used as a fragrance ingredient, artificial flavor, preservative, and solvent.  It is also considered an over the counter drug and can be used as a scabies or lice treatment.  It is an ester of benzyl alcohol and benzoic acid. 

What are it's risks:

  • Benzyl benzoate has been found to posess weakly estrogenic properties and have weak stimulating action upon the growth of breast cancer cells in one study. However, this study found benzyl benzoate not to display this activity at the concentration tested. 
  • Listed as a suspected allergen by the EU Cosmetics Directive. (Source)
  • From, the side effects of medical-strength benzyl benzoate are:
    • Blister formation, crusting, itching, oozing, reddening, or scaling of skin
    • difficulty in urinating (dribbling)
    • jerking movements
    • sudden loss of consciousness
    • burning or itching of skin

         These side effects are usually only seen at high doses and concentrations, however, damaged skin or    impaired immune function may make certain individuals more suseptible to reactions. 

Brands that use benzyl benzoate include: Jason, The Body Shop, Origins, Weleda, Dermalogica & Zia.

Steph's Opinion:

I would classify the estrogen-mimicking properties of benzyl benzoate as potential, but not confirmed.  As a person who seeks to avoid xenoestrogens (chemicals that mimic estrogen in the body) I, as a precautionary measure, avoid benzyl benzoate as well. 

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Reader Comments (44)

Miessence also uses this!

Thu, June 2, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJoanna

Can children/adults use benzyl benzoate to illiminate lice/nits?

Thu, October 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle

I just found out that this is also contained in Calvin Klein's perfume Euphoria.. I know its in small doses, but the perfume also has benzyl alcohol. I've researched only 3 of the ingredients of the perfume and two of them are already on this site and are considered risky. I really dont want to know what else there is in this perfume :x

Sat, November 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKali

Just noticed Dr Hauschka's Regenerating Eye Cream as well as the Day Cream also contains benzyl benzoate, NOT COOL. Very surprised, as I thought Hauschka products were safer and healthier! 'Holistic Face Care' printed right on the tube, I think not! Very disappointed.

Fri, November 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPat

Benzyl benzoate is found in many popular brand name skincare products. Although it may cause some of the concerns mentioned above, I agree it's best to avoid it. There are some great products that do not use it at all.

Sun, January 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSabrina

Benzyl Benzoate was used in southern Africa as a cure for scabies in the 1970s. It was rubbed on as a lotion. I don't know what concentration was used but I believe it was quite strong. It would be interesting to know if there were any side effects.

Tue, February 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPat

I love this website it's so informative.Thank you.
I was wondering why you only mention the synthetic version of benzyl benzoate here? I have always believed Benzyl benzoate is a fragrance component inherent in some essential oils such as ylang ylang and jasmine. Generally if used at the correct ratios one will not experience any sensitivity to these essential oils. Many natural brands must include fragrance allergens on their INCI lists by law. Which is why you might find it listed on the ingredient lists of your favourite natural brand. There is no way to distinguish between the components of natural essential oils and their synthetic counterparts without testing, as they have the same chemical name. There is much evidence to suggest that fragrance sensitivity is caused by the toxic chemicals created in a laboratory and that the body tolerates and assimilates these chemicals of the same name in their complete and natural form but not the isolated versions or synthetic versions of the same chemical. Can you shed some light on this grey area....Many Thanks, Rachel

Tue, April 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRachel

Also in Dr. miracle's anti breakage cream

Wed, June 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRose

Bath and Body Works use Benzyl Benzoate in some of their products. I've recently developed an allergy to a body wash from them containing this ingredient. I have no confirmation that Benzyl Benzoate is the culprit, but as a precautionary measure I am avoiding it as well as all benzoates.

Sun, July 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMelissa

Loccitane also uses this ingredient on their lip balms. I'm quite scared from reading all these side effects as I suffer from epilepsy.

Mon, October 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterWinnie

Also found in De-mite laundry additive

Sat, October 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRalph

Benzyl benzoate is found naturally in some essential oils. One of those being Cinnamon leaf essential oil. properly diluted they are safe but some will have reactions if allergy is found, as with all things in nature. It is the law to label Benzyl benzoate as an ingredient in products weather or not it occurs naturally or is in synthetic form.

Wed, November 14, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterkristie

Also in burts beeslipchap

Wed, January 2, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterrye

I was researching benzyl benzoate because it's in my hand soap by Ecos (which they say is a "non-drying formula, cleans & softens hands")...Yet they make it with benzyl benzoate :[...I hate how there's a push to be more concerned about our wolrd than our own bodies; also, it seems profit is more important than quality. I will have to quite dragging my feet and make my own liquid soap! This website was helpful :)

Wed, January 9, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterrosa

Also found in Swanson's Mite-Free Laundry Additive.

Wed, March 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPete

Yes as Kristie mentioned Benzyl benzoate is a component of cinnamon essential oil... in the EU, if you sell products there, your labels are required to list these components of essential oils that some people might have reactions to.. when listed as a "component" of an essential oil, you are not looking at a separate ingredient.

there can literally be 100s maybe even 1000s of components of essential oils... and the EU labeling requirements do not distinguish between a synthetic chemical ingredient VS a component of an essential oil.

That's why you see companies like Dr. Haushka with this listed on their ingredients lists... because they sell products in the EU and I see that is listed as a component of an essential oil, it's not a separate ingredient.

Labeling requirements are not the same in the US.... the EU has stricter labeling requirements so if these companies are selling in US and EU they will be listing their components of essential oils that are on a list that the EU publishes and requires labeling of these ingredients.

So you have to read your labels very carefully to see if it's listed ans an ingredient or if it is listed as a component of an essential oil... those are two different things.

Sun, April 21, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterErin Ely

Also in Dr Hauschka regenerating serum

Sun, May 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDee

is there a list of popular fragrances that have toxic ingredients? if so, what is the website and link? thank you

Tue, June 18, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterann

Just noticed that it is used in Nivea cream as well...quite shocking and it leaves me wondering if it has been causing damage to my skin all this while...

Tue, August 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAyesha

@Ann--most popular fragrances contain problematic ingredients like phthalates. But the problem is we don't really know what's in ANY fragrance because they just list the scent chemicals as "fragrance" and not actually disclose all of the fragrance components.

Fri, August 30, 2013 | Registered Commenter[Stephanie Greenwood]

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