Methylisothiazolinone, or MI, has been the topic of much research and dialogue in the skin care industry concerning its increasingly common use in a variety of cosmetic products. Experts warn that the “MI epidemic” is sending more and more people to the dermatologist due to severe skin reactions when this ingredient is included in products directly contacting the skin. Here is everything you need to know about methylisothiazolinone, its possible negative effects on your skin, and how to avoid MI exposure.
What Is Methylisothiazolinone?
Methylisothiazolinone is a preservative that has traditionally been used in paints, glues, and household cleaners. However, since 2005, MI has been used in cosmetic and personal care products like lotions, shampoos, and laundry detergents. A 2013 study published in Contact Dermatitis reported that between 2010 and 2012, the prevalence of MI contact allergies rose from 2 percent to 3.7 percent . In 2016, however, a British study found that the prevalence of MI-related skin reactions is now between 6 and 12 percent .
This is largely due to the fact that MI continues to be incorporated into an increasing number of skin care and personal care products. Therefore, more people are now exposed to this ingredient than would have been the case a decade ago, and an individual’s exposure may be coming from a variety of products.
Whether or not this is truly an “epidemic” is a subject of debate among skin experts. However, the underlying concern that MI, a known allergen, is showing up in substantially more skin care products is universal.
Where to Look for MI
Methylisothiazolinone is widely used in many everyday products, including:
• Foundations and concealers
• Self-tanning lotions
• Bubble baths
• Moist wipes
• Laundry detergents and fabric softeners
What Does an MI Allergy Look Like?
While mild reactions to MI can have similar symptoms to other causes of contact dermatitis, in severe cases, symptoms can appear all over the body. Look for these common symptoms of an MI allergy:
• Patches of dry, flaky skin
If you’re concerned about a skin reaction to a particular skin care product or ingredient, be sure to consult your dermatologist. To accurately diagnose an MI allergy, your dermatologist can conduct a patch test.
How to Avoid MI Exposure
To avoid unnecessary exposure to MI, you’ll need to read product labels carefully. You may see methylisothiazolinone listed, or similar preservatives such as chloroxylenol and benzalkonium chloride. If you’re unsure about an ingredient and you have an MI allergy, talk with your dermatologist before using a new product.
When reading labels on skin care products, look for ingredients like amino acids, peptides, and antioxidants in formulas that are MI and paraben-free. AminoGenesis Cocoon, for example, is a nourishing, paraben-free moisturizer that contains a powerful blend of 17 plant-based amino acids and no MI. This formula can help to soothe dry, flaking skin conditions, razor burn, sunburns, and other minor skin injuries.
You might also benefit from an antioxidant-rich serum such as AminoGenesis Perfect Reflection, which contains vitamins A, C, and D and CoQ10 to help protect your skin from both oxidative and carbon free radical damage. As a result, this serum improves the appearance of dull, lackluster skin, discoloration, and flaky, dry skin. Like all Aminogenesis products, it does not contain MI, parabens, or gluten and is also cruelty-free.
Although you may not have an allergy to methylisothiazolinone, it is possible to develop a sensitivity to ingredients like this one, especially if you begin to use more products that contain it. To help avoid exposure to this preservative in your skin care and cosmetic products, check labels before you buy. Knowing which ingredients to stay away from and which to include in your everyday skin care routine can have a positive impact on the overall look and feel of your skin.