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Methylisothiazolinone and methylchloroisothiazolinone 

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Methylisothiazolinone (MIT or MI) and Methylchloroisothiazolinone (CMIT or CMI) are two preservatives from the family of substances called isothiazolinones, used in some cosmetic products and other household products.  MIT can be used alone to help preserve the product or it may be used together with CMIT as a blend.  Preservatives are an essential element in cosmetic products, protecting products, and so the consumer, against contamination by microorganisms during storage and continued use.

MIT and CMIT are two of the very limited number of ‘broad spectrum’ preservatives, which means they are effective against a variety of bacteria, yeasts and moulds, across a wide range of product types.  MIT and CMIT have been positively approved for use as preservatives for many years under the strict European cosmetics legislation. The primary purpose of these laws is to protect human safety. One of the ways it does this is by banning certain ingredients and controlling others by limiting their concentration or restricting them to particular product types. Preservatives may only be used if they are specifically listed in the legislation.

MIT


MIT can be used on its own to help preserve cosmetic products.

Following discussions with dermatologists, who reported an increase in cases of allergy to MIT in their clinics, the European cosmetics industry assessed the available information regarding the risk of allergic reactions to MIT, and in December 2013, the European Personal Care Association, Cosmetics Europe, issued a Recommendation for companies to discontinue the use of MIT in leave-on skincare products.

The European Commission’s independent expert scientific panel (the Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety, SCCS), which advises on safety matters, reviewed the use of MIT in cosmetic products.  In 2013, the SCCS also recommended that MIT be removed from leave-on cosmetic products and that the amount of MIT used in rinse-off cosmetic products should be reduced. 

As a result, the European Commission changed the cosmetic law to ban the use of MIT in leave-on cosmetic products.  Since 12 February 2017, it is no longer permitted to make these products available to consumers.

In addition, the maximum amount of MIT present in rinse-off products has been reduced and since 27 April 2018, all products made available to consumers must comply with the new limit.

If consumers have been diagnosed as allergic to MIT it is important to check the ingredient list of rinse-off cosmetic products.  The name ‘methylisothiazolinone’ will always be listed as ‘methylisothiazolinone’ regardless of where in Europe a product is purchased.

MIT/CMIT Blend

MIT may also be used in a blend with CMIT.  If the MIT and CMIT blend is used to preserve a cosmetic product, then the names methylisothiazolinone and methylchloroisothiazolinone will both be present in the ingredients list, which every cosmetic product must have either on its carton, pack or label, card etc. at point of sale.

In its review of the MIT/CMIT blend, the SCCS has stated that the MIT/CMIT blend should only be allowed to be used in rinse-off cosmetic products.

As a result, the European cosmetic law was changed to restrict the use of this blend to rinse-off products only from April 2016.

You may have read some media articles wrongly suggesting there could be a link between MIT and cancer. There are no links between the use of MIT or CMIT and cancer