Every methylisothiazolinone allergy sufferer knows their trigger is likely to be found in cosmetics, but many, I suspect, would not guess that it can turn up in mouthwash.
Why? Well, Article 2 of the EU Cosmetics Regulation ((EC) No. 1223/2009) defines a cosmetic product as follows:
” … any substance or mixture intended to be placed in contact with the external parts of the human body (epidermis, hair system, nails, lips and external genital organs) or with the teeth and the mucous membranes of the oral cavity with a view exclusively or mainly to cleaning them, perfuming them, changing their appearance, protecting them, keeping them in good condition or correcting body odours”
So, mouthwashes are cosmetic products, according to this definition, and therefore the legislation governing the use of MI or MCI / MI in rinse-off / wash-off products applies.
None of this minimises my surprise at coming across methylisothiazolinone in Colgate Cavity Protection — a fluoride mouthwash commonly found on UK shelves. This product may well shield ‘teeth from cavity-causing acids’ but if you have MI allergy it will instead, I imagine, cause untold damage to your internal oral tissues that would leave you in acute pain.
The need for preservation
Any water-based preparation needs to be preserved — and water is the first ingredient in this mouthwash — and almost certainly in others.
Thankfully for the MI sufferer, most other mainstream mouthwashes do not list MI among their ingredients, but it always pays to check, and double check, and to contact manufacturers before you risk using a mouthwash — or you could be in for a particularly unpleasant shock.
No mouthwash is guaranteed to be ‘allergy safe’ for everyone, but if you struggle with high street brands — which often contain petrochemical derivatives, propylene glycol and artificial colorants — and want to explore more natural alternatives, which are free from MI and other ingredients many want or need to avoid, here are three you may like to try. If you have any further recommendations, please leave them in comments.
JASON Healthy Mouth
Several flavours of natural mouthwash, in very generously sized bottles, including ‘orange cinnamint’, ‘peppermint’ and ‘cinnamon clove’. Additionally free from parabens, SLS, petrochemicals, gluten and phthalates. Most importantly for many — they’re free from alcohol as well.
Neal’s Yard Remedies Lavender & Myrrh Mouthwash (UK only)
Just glycerin, denatured alcohol and essential oils / botanical extracts.
Weleda Ratanhia Mouthwash
Unusual mouthwash, which contains myrrh. Add several drops to water. Contains alcohol, and some essential oils of sage, eucalyptus and mint, for example. Claimed to be good for gums which have a tendency to bleed.
PS: Reader Donna Manuriak also recommends Tom’s of Maine mouthwashes as safe. Although I’ve not independently verified with them that they are MI-Free, you can browse the collection here.