Methylisothiazolinone: ‘Knowledge is power’
In 1597 Sir Francis Bacon wrote : “Knowledge is power”. This is as true today as it was over four centuries ago.
How many people would have avoided acute contact dermatitis if consumers had known that the preservative MI, which is short for methylisothiazolinone and known to be allergenic, was present in the skincare products they purchased regularly for themselves and their children.
MI sparks allergy concerns
MI was originally used in combination with another preservative, Methylchloroisothiazolinone (MCI) in a three-to-one ratio. Allergy concerns about MCI meant that it was dropped and MI is now often used alone but in much higher concentrations – up to 25 times higher than previously. Since this concentration has gone up so have cases of contact dermatitis and experts believe that the two may be linked.
Dr John McFadden, consultant dermatologist at St John’s Institute of Dermatology in London, has grave concerns and said “We are in the midst of an outbreak of allergy to a preservative which we have not seen before in terms of scale in our lifetime.
“Many of our patients have suffered acute dermatitis with redness and swelling of the face. I would ask the cosmetics industry not to wait for legislation but to get on and address the problem before the situation gets worse.
MI is not the only member of this group of chemicals to give rise to anxiety. Margarida Goncalo, President of the European Society of Contact Dermatitis wrote to the European Commission in January, stating “This new epidemic of allergic contact dermatitis from isothiazolinones is causing harm to European citizens; urgent action is required.”
Methyldibromo glutaronitrile, another preservative, was banned from use in cosmetics in 2005 after links were made to eczema but there are suggestions that the number of cases of allergy are rising even faster with MI than they did before.
One of the most bizarre aspect of this situation is that these chemicals have been rigorously tested, often on both animals and humans and found to be safe and non-toxic. The protocols and results are easily accessed on the Web. Yet all is not well. Do we need to redefine “safe and non-toxic”?
Although 20% of children now have eczema, often in the form of contact dermatitis, 80%, the vast majority do not. But for those 20% perhaps we need to think deeply about where to go next. Is a product safe and non-toxic which causes raging dermatitis /eczema? Do we care?
Preservatives needed in skincare products to cut risk of infection
Cosmetic formulations containing water need to contain preservatives to prevent bacteria and yeasts breeding in them and posing a threat of infection. I for one do not want to get Staph Aureus from my mascara, for example.
These products have all been rigorously tested by responsible and highly qualified professional scientists and put on the market by some of the most highly respected, brand leading corporations on the planet, companies dedicated to the health and well-being of their customers.
But when you look at the lists of ingredients in everyday cosmetics it is hard not to be overwhelmed. I have to ask: Have all these chemicals been tested to see whether they are safe in all these combinations? It would be a mammoth task, perhaps an impossible one, so maybe it is the responsibility of the concerned consumer, both those who are have already suffered from allergies and also those who wish to avoid the possibility that they might, to take the first step.
As we see, the formulation of popular synthetic cosmetic products will always require these chemicals, they would be very dangerous without them. But does that still make them the right choice for you? If you are in the 80% you may well be happy to continue using the products you are used to and are familiar with.
Improve the quality of your life and health of your family
But if you are in the 20% you really need to wake up to the world around you and get that knowledge which will ultimately bring you the power to improve the quality of your life and that of your family.
These preservatives we have heard about recently are not the only substances in daily use which we already know to be irritants – SLS, SLES, anyone? Or even those fragrances which are acknowledged to be the single most allergenic group of chemical additives to cosmetics. Perhaps we should look at the current scare as wake-up call to action, action only we ourselves can take for our own good.
Where to turn?
There are simple ways we can begin to cope with the blizzard of potential allergens we are all faced with every day.
First think about what you are using. If you are most worried about skin reactions, get a list of those ingredients you wish to avoid and read the label before you buy
Look at the ingredients list and eliminate ingredients methodically. See how you get on.
Bear in mind, the fewer the number of ingredients the easier it will be to suss out which ones suit you, and if you can pronounce it you are more likely to remember it in the future.
If you are worried about all the chemicals in your usual products remember :There are other, more natural alternatives available. For example,if you wish to use sun cream on your children, why not take a look at Badger Balm’s all natural options? Or for baby wipes, Jackson Reece specifically mention MI as one of the chemicals they refused to put into their herbal based wipes.
Check out products which use natural alternatives, they are out there, but most important, take your future into your own hands. Get a list of those ingredients you wish to avoid and read the label before you buy. Bear in mind, the fewer the number of ingredients the easier it will be to suss out which ones suit you, and if you can pronounce it you are more likely to remember it in the future.
Good luck with your homework and remember that once you take this project on :
Things can only get better !
Note: I recently came across an interesting website which may be useful for people with allergies who are making career choices : http://www.workhealthy.se . I found it accessible and very informative , well worth a look.
Don’t forget to take a look at Marble Hill Online. The site sells a range of natural skincare products, some of which are excellent for sensitive skin and other irritations. Suffering from acne? You’ll love the Health Scrub Bar, which features tea tree essential oil to eradicate zits.
Remember to always consult a licensed healthcare practitioner before embarking on any treatment, it’s your health and it’s IMPORTANT. Disclaimer
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