Dermatologists have pegged it as being second only to nickel in causing contact allergies. Now, manufacturers have been ordered to cease using the chemical in products that are left on the skin – although it will still be permitted in rinse-off stuff like shower gels and shampoos.
Some background on the controversial chemical: Methylisothiazolinone, also known as MI or MIT, is a potent preservative found in house paint to halt the growth of harmful yeasts and bacteria.
Its increasing use in the cosmetics industry has prompted experts from the St John’s Institute of Dermatology in London to blame it for an “epidemic” of severe skin allergies “not seen before in our lifetime”.
In response, European trade association Cosmetics Europe said in a statement that it has found “evidence to suggest a relationship between the use of leave-on skin products, including cosmetic wet wipes containing MIT, and the induction of contact allergy and allergic contact dermatitis”. Members of the body have also been ordered to remove the offending chemical from their products “as soon as feasible”.
However, Cosmetic Europe’s latest move has been panned as not going far enough to effectively stem the rise in allergies.
Dr David Orton, a member of the British Association of Dermatologists and president of the British Society of Cutaneous Allergy, said in a statement to The Telegraph: “As it currently stands, this recommendation falls short of calling for the removal or a reduction of MI levels in rinse-off cosmetics, such as shower gels or shampoos.”
“We still have concerns that its continued use at present concentrations in such products will elicit allergic reactions in those that are already sensitised,” Dr Orton added. “This is a matter which we are hoping to reach agreement on in future planned discussions.”
Bonus: For further reading, see herworldPLUS’ investigations into heavy metals and other hazardous ingredients in lipsticks and mascara.
For more information on MI and Cosmetics Europe’s industry recommendations, visit Cosmetics Europe for the full statement.