MI free sunscreen and sun cream

Confused by sunscreen recommendations? Need yours to be methylisothiazolinone free? Here’s the lowdown – and a list of safe brands.

Sun cream: what you need to know

Most of us do not apply enough sunscreen to protect us from the sun’s damaging UV rays. We also don’t reapply regularly – particularly when sweating or exercising or after swimming.

Sun Protection Factor (SPF) indicates the level of protection from UVB rays, which are related to sunburn and skin cancer. You need a minimum SPF15 for everyday activity, and minimum SPF30 for lengthier exposure. Children at the beach should have SPF50.

We also need protection from UVA rays, which are more associated with wrinkles and ageing. 

The usual recommendation is to go for products offering protection against UVA and UVB – these are often called ‘broad spectrum‘ sunscreens.

There are two types of sunscreen:

1/ inorganic / physical – these contain zinc oxide and titanium dioxide and reflect and scatter UV rays away from the skin
2/ organic / chemical – these contain ingredients such as oxybenzone and methoxycinnamate that absorb the UV rays.

This FAQ from the American Academy of Dermatology is useful.

MI / MCI-Free Sunscreens

All products in the UK / EU should now be safe and MI-free: these countries have legislation excluding MI from leave-on products, which include suncreams. 

The US and Australia / NZ don’t have such bans yet in force, so this selection of methylisothiazolinone / methylchloroisothiazolinone-free sun creams, sun lotions and other sun care products has a mostly American and Australian / New Zealand focus. 

Babyganics (US)
Mostly natural mineral-based sunscreens from the US for young children. Use phenoxyethanol and ethylhexylglycerin preservatives instead of isothiazolinones or parabens. Browse here. (Warning: some of their household products contain MI

Badger (US)
A wide selection of non-nano zinc oxide-based sunscreens, with strong natural qualities. These include kids sunscreens, sporting sunscreens, daily sunscreens, active sunscreens and some unscented versions too. Mostly SPF25-35. Also an aftersun balm. Browse here

Beauty Counter (US)
A handful of products – broad spectrum SPF30 – including stick sunscreens for both face and body.

Cancer Council Sunscreen (Australia)
Told us that from 2016 onwards, no MI / MCI is used. Before that, MI was in some products, which may potentially still be in circulation. Broad spectrum between SPF30 and 50, and include products for kids, sports, ‘everyday’ and water sport. 

Coola Suncare (US)
Re: MI / MCI they told us: “We confirmed with our lab that we do not use this preservative in any of our products, or in any trace amounts in our ingredients”. Classic, mineral and ‘beauty’ sunscreens – including for sport – in spray, stick or lotion, and for lips too. SPF30 and SPF50 products. Also some handy travel sets – and an after-sun lotion. 

Derma E (US)
Known for their antioxidant sunscreens with vitamin C and green tea, for both face and body. SPF 30. 

Green People (US / UK)
Wide selection of sun cream products – and SPF15 tinted moisturisers / mineral powders – as well as a children’s range, and after-sun care products too. In the UK, you can even buy a Sun Care Sample Pack for £1.50.

JASON (US / UK)
Very good and affordable products, with SPF up to 45. For UK information, click here. For US, click here. To browse selection on Amazon, click here.

Lavera (US / UK)
German natural skincare brand, free from MI / MCI. Their sun range includes sun cream, after sun care and self-tanning products. Browse here.

MooGoo (Australia)
Small collection of sun care products from this MI-free Australian brand – including SPF40 zinc oxide natural sunscreen.

Natural Instinct (Australia)
Free from 400+ synthetic and petrochemically derived ingredients – including MI / MCI – and which are all listed here. A trio of SPF30 products, with excellent natural qualities.

Nature’s Gate (US)
Includes some SPF50 broad spectrum products – some for sports and some for kids. 

NO-AD (US)
Wide range of products for general protection, facial sun care, sport, children and tanning. SPFs from 8 to 50. 

Salcura (US / UK)
Their therapeutic shampoos are popular, but lesser known are two equally good DermaSun products this brand do as well – DermaSun Burn Relief and DermaSun Allergy Relief – the latter of which is indicated for prickly heat and may be handy for other sensitivities, which many with MI-allergy experience from time to time. 

Skin Sunscreen Golf (US)
Small specialist selection of sunscreen for golfers. 

Skinnies (New Zealand)
Water-free and preservative-free SPF30 products.

Sunsense (Australia)
Confirm their MI free status in their FAQ. Wide range of SPF50+ products – including for children, sport, sensitive skin and anti-ageing. 

Vanicream (US)
High-tolerance skincare products for those with sensitive skin – free from not only the isothiazolinone preservatives, but fragrances, dyes / colors, parabens and other preservatives. Offer a quartet of high-spectrum sunscreen products, including a lip protector. Browse on Amazon US, or find it in these stores. In Australia, try Fishpond.

World Organics (New Zealand)
A pair of broad spectrum SPF30 products in the River Veda brand from a wholly MI-free company. (Deliver internationally.)

WARNING!

Aveeno
At least one product – Aveeno Positively Radiant CC Cream Broad Spectrum SPF 30 – contains MI. Be alert for others.

Banana Boat / Hawaiian Tropic 
Both by the same company – Edgewell. Told us via their Hawaiian Tropic Facebook page that: ” Because of scientific information suggesting that the use of MIT may lead to the induction of contact allergy, Edgewell has discontinued the use of MIT globally. As of March 2017 all Banana Boat products being produced will be MIT free, and we plan to have all MIT products completely phased out of market by October 2017.” When queried whether this applied to Hawaiian Tropic the baffling reply was: “We cannot speak for Hawaiian Tropic”. Proceed with caution. 

Cerave
Not checked and no response to our query, but it seems some do and some don’t contain MI. There’s an example in this thread on Facebook

La Roche Posay
“We do not have prepared information for the ingredient information you requested for our entire product line”. Check labels. 

Neutrogena
No response to our query, but some of their sun products do seem to contain MI. As per Cerave, there’s an example in this thread on Facebook

Sun Bum
Several of their creams contain MI.

NO RESPONSE

The following were approached for their MI / MCI status in sun care, but either have not yet responded, or have told us they will look into it, and get back to us when they know. This page will be updated if and when they do. 

Alba Botanica, Blue Lizard, Coppertone, Elta MD, Kiss My Face, Shiseido, Sun Laboratories, and Suntegrity. 

13 Comments

  1. Carrie

    THANK YOU SO MUCH!!! I appreciate your research and your help so much! It’s made the journey of finding safe products for my husband so much easier!!! I’d be lost without your help!

    Reply
    1. MI Free (Post author)

      That’s a great thing to hear – thank you!

      Reply
  2. Linda Budd

    Thank you so much for your diligence. I don’t know how I would get along without you guys and SkinSafe. This allergy is challenging, to say the least.

    Reply
    1. MI Free (Post author)

      Glad to help!

      Reply
  3. Christine

    This is great, thank you! I recently did not read my labels well enough and put some Neutrogena Sport Face Oil-Free SFP 70 on my face and neck and broke out into a bad rash that lasted about 10 days! Of course, it had MI in it 🙁

    Conversely, I’ve had good luck with a brand called Elta MD. They have a few types of sunscreens for sale, usually at dermatologists’ offices. If you could include that brand in future research I’d love it, just to be sure it’s good/safe. Thanks!

    Reply
    1. MI Free (Post author)

      Thank you for the Neutrogena warning! I did contact Elta MD but haven’t received a response – I’ll maybe chase a few up in due course.

      Reply
  4. Belinda Seaman

    Great list! I use World Organics sunscreens for the whole family and love them. Did you know they are available in Australia and the US too – or anywhere in the world via online? Highly recommend

    Reply
    1. MI Free (Post author)

      Thanks Belinda – will add a note to their entry!

      Reply
  5. Pingback: Self tanning and bronzing without MI | Methylisothiazolinone Free

  6. Sherry O'Shell

    VERY HELPFUL research…Thank You!!
    Sunscreen down, Now on to dishwashing liquid, make up And Everything else

    Reply
    1. MI Free (Post author)

      Ah, thank you for taking the time to comment – you’re more than welcome. If you’re in the UK, leave-on make-up should all be safe now, and indeed throughout the EU.

      Reply
      1. Christine

        Well it *should* be, but you can’t count on it. I live in the U.S. but spent all of June in Italy and shops were still selling shampoo, conditioner and soaps with MI in it. I think the manufacturers stopped making it with MI as an ingredient, but realistically it will be a while before all the product is off store shelves. You still need to check the labels.

        Reply
        1. MI Free (Post author)

          Will be in Italy for a week in autumn. I will check – but bear in mind that MI is still permitted in the EU in rinse-off products – such has shampoo, conditioner, soap, shower gel, scrubs etc. It’s leave on – creams, sunscreen, make-up – in which it’s banned.

          Reply

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