Here is a brief introduction to the problem, plus a short list of MI-free products.
If you’re looking for additional information, including on the diagnosis of MI allergy, labelling laws, and a more extensive database of products, then you may be interested in my site, Methylisothiazolinone Free. It covers not only suitable cosmetics for skin and hair, but also household cleaning products (for kitchen, bathroom, laundry, glass and furniture), wall paints, pet care products, and much more.
For more in-depth information, you may also be interested in my new book, Living with Methylisothiazolinone Allergy (pictured right).
The MI Story
In 2013, two dermatological organisations issued warnings about a relatively new ‘epidemic’ of allergy to MI — a preservative present in wet wipes, skin creams, washing up liquid, sun care, fabric conditioners and many more household cleaners and personal toiletries.
Despite calls for a ban from some quarters, it seems industry has been moving towards only a partial ban (on ‘leave on’ products — i.e. skin creams) and continuing to permit use in ‘rinse off’ products at a low level (0.01% or less) which experts believe should not cause sensitisation to MI. This should, in theory, halt the epidemic. However, those already sensitised will have to continue to read labels on products such as household detergents, shampoo and shower gels to avoid it. The ban in ‘leave on’ products, such as lipsticks, moisturisers and body lotions, does not yet apply everywhere, most notably in the United States. It does apply in Europe.
It seems those with eczema are more susceptible to sensitivity to MI (and other isothiazolinones, such as methylchloroisothiazolinone — or MCI), and as those with eczema are more likely to be atopic, they’re also more likely to have food allergies. It’s possible that those who experience reactions to skincare products and put them down to the food ingredients often found there, may actually be reacting to non-food ingredients — such as fragrances (such as linalool, geraniol, eugenol etc) and preservatives such as MI.
If you think you might be one of them, do not self diagnose. See a doctor or dermatologist who can, if relevant, refer you for patch testing to identify the culprit.
Avoiding fragrances and SLS (sodium lauryl sulphate) may also help if you have skin sensitivities.
The following brands avoid MI and other isothiazolinones in ALL products.
Attitude (US / Can) / Attitude (UK) — laundry / fabric softener / household detergents.
Bio-D (UK) — household / bathroom cleaning and laundry / dish washing.
Eco Me (US) / Eco Me (UK) — all natural and SLS free; wide selection of products.
Ecostore (Australia / New Zealand) —
Greenshield Organic (US) — also free from parabens, SLS/SLES, ammonia and more.
Mangle & Wringer (UK) — natural and MI-free household cleaning.
Rockin Green (US) — eco-friendly house and laundry (SLS / parabens free).
NB. Even brands which make natural, ‘gentle’ or environmental claims may use MI in some products, so beware. Among them are Ecover, Earth Friendly Products / ECOS, Seventh Generation and Mrs Meyer’s.
MI-free Cosmetics Brands
For MI-Free Cosmetics brands, see MI Free’s Cosmetics page.
For hair dyes, colours, shampoos and conditioners, see MI Free’s Hair Care page.