Organic alcohol that occurs naturally in some fruits (apricots, cranberries) and teas. Its chief function in cosmetics is as a preservative, and itŠ—Ès among the least sensitizing preservatives in use.
High amounts of benzyl alcohol can impart a noticeable floral-like scent to products, as it is part of the fragrance makeup of some essential oils such as jasmine.
As a volatile alcohol, it can pose a risk of sensitivity when used in high amounts, but is considered safe as used in cosmetics.
References for this information:
Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, March 2007, issue 5, pages 1737-1742
International Journal of Toxicology, 2001, Supplement 3, pages 23-50