EU Labelling and Law

Methylisothiazolinone (MI) and methylchloroisothiazolinone (MCI) must be declared on cosmetics labels when present in the formulation.

(Note that small products may not carry a list of ingredients. In this case, the ingredients must by law be made available at the point of sale – if in store, ask an assistant, and if online, email customer services.)

EU cosmetics labelling laws treats ‘leave on’ products (such as face creams) differently to ‘rinse/wash off’ products (such as shower gels). 

The legalities and processes are complicated, and are under constant under review. 

On 16th April 2016, the MI / MCI blend was banned from leave-on products in the European Union.

On 12th February 2017, MI was banned from leave-on products in the European Union.  

Both MI and the MI / MCI blend are permitted in rinse off products, and this is likely to remain the case in future. That said, permitted levels are being reduced in 2018. 

Removal of the preservatives in leave-on products may help to reduce the number of people becoming sensitised to MI, but will not help those individuals already sensitive to MI, who will have to continue to read ingredients labels carefully. 


Household Detergents

Similarly, the presence of MI or MCI (or other isothiazolinones, permitted for use in household products, such as benzisothiazolinone) must be declared in the ingredients list of any household cleaners or cleaning products.

These are usually easier to spot, because full ingredient declaration for other components (eg surfactants, soaps) need not be given, and are usually named as these ‘types’. Consequently, ingredient lists are typically far shorter than in cosmetics. 

More information is provided in this HSE guidance document, and as does EU legislation 648/2004.


For posts concerning legislation, click here

For MI-and-MCI-free cosmetic brands, click here, or use the drop-down menu above for cosmetic types. 

For isothiazolinone-free household detergents, click here, or use the drop-down menu above for household product types. 


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