MI: tighter restrictions for rinse-off cosmetics in EU

It was almost a year ago to the day that we reported on the most recent restriction on the use of methylisothiazolinone in cosmetics in the EU — to ban the use of MI in leave-on cosmetics — and now we have a new one to report on for rinse-off products.

On the 6th July 2017, COMMISSION REGULATION (EU) 2017/1224, amending Annex V to Regulation (EC) No 1223/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council on cosmetic products, was published. 

The Amendment lowered the maximum permitted concentration of MI in a rinse-off product from 0.01% to 0.0015% — in other words, from 100 parts per million (100ppm) to 15 parts per million (15ppm).

According to the Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (SCCS), MI at this concentration in a rinse-off product is safe for the general consumer “from the point of view of induction of contact allergy” — in other words, it should not be capable of sensitising a non-MI-allergic individual to MI.

It may, and probably will, still elicit reactions in consumers already sensitised to MI.

There is a period of transition. The dates are as follows:

  • From 27 January 2018 only cosmetic products which comply with the Regulation can be placed into the EU market.
  • From 27 April 2018 only cosmetic products which comply with the Regulation can be sold in the EU market.


So who will this help?

Probably not those already sensitised, at least directly, as even at 15ppm many will react — and nobody is likely to want to take a risk, so label-reading and checking will remain paramount.

Those susceptible to allergies but not yet sensitised to MI and who use a lot of cosmetics may be helped, as it is thought this low level will help prevent future sensitisations.

How the cosmetic industry will respond and react to this restriction is unclear. At such a low concentration, MI will not be so effective at destroying bacteria, and so may need to be combined with additional preservatives such as phenoxyethanol or parabens — which many consumers like or need to avoid too — in certain formulations. This could merely result in additional ingredients — further restricting those products for consumers sensitive to other preservatives.

Alternatively, formulators and cosmetic companies may consider removing MI altogether, and look for alternative or perhaps more ‘natural’ preservative mixes for their shampoo, conditioner and shower gel formulations. We can only hope these too, in turn, do not become overused in the industry.

It may take time for the picture to become clear.


  1. Roseann Keenan

    I wish all the jibberjabing would just stop. Get rid of it now. U.S. and Europe. Those that have the most to lose surely does not have this allergy. When you wake up as a monster and your life has to stop, doctoring starts. The pain and discomfort for what? Shelf life?

    1. MI Free (Post author)

      It’s a huge subject, with many complicating factors. There is a reluctance to ban entirely, because the industry is running out of preservatives. If we rely on just a few, allergies to those with increase, and then we’ll eventually have none left. There is an argument though for banning MI and moving towards a cosmetic system where products have a shorter shelf life, are sold in smaller quantities, and therefore require less preservation. It’s a huge decision, so ‘jibberjabber’ has to take place among the experts, as frustrating as it must be for those at the receiving end of terrible symptoms. Sorry you’ve had a hard time of it.

  2. susmitha

    According to the recent updates may I know what is the final concentration that can be used in Leave-on and Rinse-off products

    1. MI Free (Post author)

      As it says in the article, it is banned in leave-on, and 15ppm is the maximum permitted in rinse-off.

      1. susmitha

        thank you may I know whether the the recent amendment has been done in EU for leave-on products ??

        1. MI Free (Post author)

          Sorry, what do you mean? As I said in the article and in my previous comment, MI is banned in leave-on products in the EU, and has been since February 2017.


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