Eczema and Dermatitis

Cosmetics Europe Tells Manufacturers to Avoid Allergy-Causing Preservative

+ CV Skinlabs Team

Ban Chemical IrritantIn August of 2013, we told our readers about two preservatives widely used in personal care products that were tied to an outbreak in skin allergic reactions. Both “methylchlorosothiazolinone (MCI)” and “methylisothiazolinone (MI or MIT)” were linked with a rise in skin allergies, and researchers noted that patients with dermatitis should avoid products that included them.

Now, according to a December 2013 report in the Daily Mail, Cosmetics Europe-the European cosmetics trade association-has told its members to remove MI from products that are left on skin.

Important note-a number of products in the U.S., including L’Oreal Paris Triple Active Day Multi-Protection Moisturizer and Olay Professional Exfoliating Cream, have this potentially irritating preservative in them.

Here’s more, and why you may want to avoid this preservative.

Allergic Reactions on the Rise

These preservatives have been used for decades to help deter contamination in products like cosmetics, baby wipes, body lotions, and more. Scientists have long known that they could encourage allergic reactions, but recent reports indicate that such reactions are increasing at an alarming rate.

“The frequency of reactions to MI is unprecedented in my experience,” said Dr. Ian White from St. Thomas’ Hospital, London. “We’ve never seen anything like it.”

British clinics report that the rate of allergic reactions has been more than 10 percent for MI, when normal rates are between 1-2 percent. Symptoms range from a rash of bright red tiny bumps to fluid filled lumps on the skin, blisters, itchy eyes and swelling.

In directing its members to stop using this product, Cosmetic Europe stated, “This action is recommended in the interests of consumer safety in relation to adverse skin reactions. It is recommended that companies do not wait for regulatory intervention under the Cosmetics Regulation but implement this recommendation as soon as feasible.”

It Depends on the Dose

One of the reasons more people may be experiencing reactions to this chemical may be related to an increased dose. It used to be that MI and MCI were mixed together in a three-to-one ratio to ward off microorganisms in formulas, but as dermatologists began to be concern about MCI and allergies, some manufacturers started using MI alone at much higher concentrations.

Before, MI was included at around four parts per million (ppm), but starting in 2005, it was allowed at levels up to 100 ppm. Many skin experts believe there is a connection between the higher levels and the outbreak of allergy problems.

Some Companies Already Responding

A survey in September 2013 showed that the chemical was found in a number of products, including those made by L’Oreal, Olay, and Nivea. The following companies have now announced that they will stop using MI:

  • Vaseline
  • Brylcreem
  • Huggies (wipes)
  • Molton Brown
  • Nivea
  • Johnson & Johnson’s Piz Buin

A number of companies are still using these preservatives, however. They can be most risky in leave-on products like moisturizers and creams. Rinse-off products like shampoos and conditioners are less likely to cause reactions. I would recommend that you avoid this ingredient, however, as chemicals linked to allergies can be unpredictable. You may not be sensitive to them at first, but over time, you can develop a sensitivity-and be surprised by an unwanted reaction.

Preservatives don’t need to be toxic. There are safer options available, such as those used by CV Skinlabs, that have a much lower risk of allergic reactions.

What do you think of this news? Will you stop using products with these preservatives?

Picture courtesy Stuart Miles via


“Outbreak of contact allergy to cosmetic preservative: history repeats itself (again)”, J.Mann, I.White, J.White, P.Bannerjee and J. McFadden, St John’s Institute of Dermatology, St Thomas’ Hospital, London, UK.

Methylchoroisothiazolinone and methylisotiazolinone contact allergy: a new epidemic”, R. Urwin and S.M Wilkinson, The Leeds Centre for Dermatology, Leeds. UK.

Sean Poulter, “Ban on chemical irritant used in skin creams after explosion in cases of allergic reactions and eczema,” Daily Mail, December 15, 2013,

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