Cosmetic Preservatives – What Changed ?

Recently many preservatives have been banned or restricted in cosmetic products. One of the most widely used was the mixture Methylchloroisothiazolinone / Methylisothiazolinone (MCI / MI). This mixture was allowed for use in all cosmetic products up to 0,0015% (3:1). This is no longer the case.

Major changes

Now the mixture MCI / MI can be used ONLY in cosmetic products intended to be removed after application, such as shower gels, shampoos & conditioners – rinse-off products. In these products, MCI / MI can be used up to 0,0015% (ratio 3:1).

The use of MCI / MI in products intended to remain on the skin, hair or other external parts of the body is forbidden in the EU. Examples of these leave-on products are: creams, hair styling products (sprays, gels), perfumes,  nail polishes, make-up products (lip glosses, lipsticks, mascaras,  etc.), make-up removers, etc.

In the products that remain in contact with the skin or hair for a limited period of time (e.g. some minutes), like face masks, MCI / MI shall NOT be used.

What is the problem with these preservatives?

The mixture MCI / MI has been associated with the occurrence of skin allergies. These preservatives are also very commonly used in household detergents, increasing the possibility of skin sensitization and cross-reactions.

What needs to be done?

  • To remove or replace MCI / MI for other preservatives in leave-on products
  • To consider replacing also in rinse-off products, as there is still discussion about their safety

Cosmetic ingredients are constantly  under review in the EU by the Scientific Committee for Consumer Safety  (SCCS). The aim is to assess their safety and establish restrictions of use for the protection of human health. Preservatives have been on the spot in the last years. Now the attention was drawn to some of the most widely used ones – MCI / MI, Parabens.

Cosmetics manufacturers and their Responsible Person should closely follow the updates from the SCCS and the amendments to the Cosmetics Regulation to take the right decisions towards ensuring compliance of their products on the EU market.

Carina Martins

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