If you’ve arrived at this now old post because you’re looking for products free from the preservatives methylisothiazolinone (MI) and methylchloroisothiazolinone (MCI), please see the dedicated website Methylisothiazolinone Free, which has extensive lists of safe cosmetics, make-up, household detergents, paints, pet care products and much more — as well as lots of other useful information if you have an allergy to these preservatives.
If you’re interested in the original post from 2013 based on the news story which broke of the increasing problem of MI allergy in preceding years, then read on.
The news is filled this morning with reports of increased problems with two preservatives found in many cosmetic products. The alarm has been raised by the British Association of Dermatologists (BAD), who this week will be presenting research highlighting an ‘epidemic’ of contact dermatitis to two chemical preservatives, Methylisothiazolinone (MI) and Methylchloroisothiazolinone/Methylisothiazolinone (MCI/MI) in the UK.
BAD say “It is their presence in personal care products that are causing most concern, for example moist tissue wipes, cleansers, shower gels, deodorants, shaving foam. They can also be found in household products such as washing up liquid.”
The preservatives are often used together, and past concerns about MCI/MI in Europe has led to reductions in the concentrations allowed in cosmetic products. Despite this, a team at the Leeds Centre for Dermatology say there has been a 6.2% rise in contact allergy to MCI/MI and MI over the last three years. Other dermatology centres have experienced rises too. David Orton, President of the British Society of Cutaneous Allergy, said that across the large patch test centres in the UK, data suggest that rates of allergy to these two preservatives are now nearing 10 per cent — and in some cases higher.
Both he, and Dr John McFadden, Consultant Dermatologist at St John’s Institute of Dermatology, are calling for the cosmetics industry to act immediately to protect consumers — rather than waiting for legislation from Europe, which could take years.
But not everyone is in agreement. Dr Chris Flower, of the Cosmetic, Toiletry and Perfumery Association (CPTA) has stated that the response and concern is alarmist. He argues that the preservatives have been proven to be safe, and that the levels of the preservatives used by the researchers in patch testing is higher than the levels which would be encountered in everyday cosmetic use, and that therefore the numbers could be an over-estimate.
So where does this leave us?
We at Skins Matter don’t know of any natural or ‘free from’ cosmetic company which uses these preservatives, and in fact many of those on our radar have already taken to Twitter today to point out that they avoid them — such as Miamoo and Borealis Natural.
This story is about allergy not toxicity, so we don’t feel consumers specifically need to act unless they are experiencing some kind of reaction with their skincare routine which they have not yet got to the bottom of. In that case, patch testing may well be useful, but do see your doctor in the first instance. Our article on contact dermatitis may also help with taking steps towards a diagnosis.