The synthetic ingredient in question, methylisothiazolinone (MI), is permitted for use under European regulation but since 2005 is now allowed at much higher concentrations than ever before.
Leading dermatologists are linking its increased (and more concentrated) use to a dramatic rise in cases of contact dermatitis – a particular form of eczema triggered by skin contact with a topical allergen.
“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”, says Dr John McFadden, consultant dermatologist at St John’s Institute of Dermatology in London.
“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.”
The dermatologists leading this research estimate that one in ten patients with eczema has an allergy to MI.
As a skincare formulator who’s passionate (and positively nerdy) about ingredients, it’s great to see this exposé of methylisothiazolinone – a preservative I’ve often raised concerns about.
Sensitive skin is deeply embedded in our philosophy here at Pai and it has always frustrated me to see brands boast sensitive skin credentials with scant regard or understanding of the irritants contained in their formulations. Hopefully this will give them a wake-up call.
I’ll keep you updated as this story develops – the research is being presented to the British Association of Dermatoligists this week and the European Commission has also been called to conduct a further investigation.
Hopefully it will result in stricter regulation on irritants used by the beauty industry, which can only be a good thing for us sensitive souls!
Read the Telegraph’s full report here.