Methylisothiazolinone – The Preservative to Avoid
If you’ve read our Truth about Parabens article, then you’ll know that preservatives play an important role in skin care by preventing the growth of harmful fungi, bacteria and other microbes. The MI (Methylisothiazolinone) preservative is no different in its aims and is commonly used in many skin care products like sunscreen and baby wipes to kill and prevent bacteria. However, MI has revealed itself to be problematic in recent years. Research shows that MI preservative in skin care products can trigger and cause allergic contact dermatitis (ACD)1.
Overview of MI in recent years
MI has been used in skin care products since the early 2000s and is one of the most commonly used preservatives due to its effectiveness. Its existence has come back into the limelight due to research showing that the prevalence of MI allergies is increasing. In Australia, the Skin and Cancer Foundation found during their research that there was a sharp increase from 3.5% (in 2011) to 11.3% (in 2013) in allergic reactions to MI. 2 This rapid rise in the number of people reacting to the preservative prompted the skin care industry and manufacturers from all over the world to take notice and start to reduce the use of this preservative
Currently in Australia, the Therapeutic Goods Administration is reviewing the maximum quantity of MI allowed within cosmetic and therapeutic goods from 0.01% or less in leave-on products to 0.0015% or less.
So How Can You Avoid MI and Minimise Allergic Contact Dermatitis?
While MI has fallen out of favour within the cosmeceutical and therapeutic goods industries, it is still being used in many products. This means that when you’re shopping for products like wet wipes and sunscreen, you should always watch out for MI preservatives as an ingredient in case it leads to allergies.
With all skin care products that you plan on purchasing, we always recommend that you do a small patch test on an area of your skin and wait for 24 hours before deciding to use it as directed. This is the best way to avoid adverse reactions to products.
Methylisothiazolinone-free products we recommend
For those who are worried about MI preservatives or other sensitising agents, we would recommend trying products that avoid the use of MI, such as the Ego product range. Ego Pharmaceuticals have never used MI preservatives in their products and it’s part of Ego’s mission to try and develop skin care products that are suitable for sensitive skin.
- Gonçalo M, Goossens A. Whilst Rome burns: the epidemic of contact allergy to methylisothiazolinone. Contact Dermatitis 2013;68(5):257–8
- Cahill JL, Toholka RW, Nixon RL. Methylisothiazolinone in baby wipes: a rising star among causes of contact dermatitis. Med J Aust 2014;200(4):208
- Oakley A, Post R., Allergic Contact Dermatitis [Internet] 1997 [Updated 2016; cited 29 August 2017]. Available from: http://www.dermnetnz.org/topics/allergic-contact-dermatitis/