In the couple of years since the tighter restriction on the use of methylchloroisothiazolinone and methylisothiazolinone came into force throughout the European Union, I have occasionally found myself saying “MI and MCI are banned in leave-on products”, and have regularly read it on social media.
Except they’re not, of course.
MI and MCI are banned in leave-on cosmetics.
What is a cosmetic? For that we must see Article 2 of the EU Cosmetics Regulation (Regulation (EC) No. 1223/2009), where we find a cosmetic product defined as:
… any substance or mixture intended to be placed in contact with the various 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 and/or correcting body odours and/or protecting them or keeping them in good condition
And a ‘leave-on cosmetic’ is defined as:
… a cosmetic product which is intended to stay in prolonged contact with the skin, the hair or the mucous membranes
So if the primary purpose of a product is to fragrance, change appearance, deodorise, protect or maintain condition, then it is likely to be a cosmetic.
A spot product designed to hide the spot? It’s a cosmetic.
A spot product designed to treat the spot? It’s not a cosmetic.
While some leave-on products are obviously cosmetics — such as face creams, body lotions, lipstick, mascara, foundation, eye liner and fake tan — others may be less clear cut, and this is important for anyone with MI and MCI allergy, as it’s easy to be lulled into a false sense of security.
A muscle balm applied to the skin is not a cosmetic.
A joint cream is not a cosmetic.
Any ointment from your doctor is unlikely to be a cosmetic.
Is a mosquito repellent a cosmetic or not? I don’t know the answer to this, but I suspect not, unless it is incorporated by the ‘protecting’ aspect of the cosmetic definition, or perhaps even the ‘fragrancing’ aspect, if as well as fragrancing you, the user, there is a secondary effect of repelling bugs with a fragrance they don’t like. Either way, if you need some safe options, see our article on Insect Repellant here.
A medical lubricant, which may be applied to you at hospital prior to a scan, for example, is not a cosmetic.
An intimate or sexual lubricant, is not a cosmetic. The Tickle Her Pink Clitoral Stimulating Gel, for instance, contains methylisothiazolinone. For a list of safe lubricants, click our article on Lubricants here.
So, in summary: let’s use the word ‘cosmetics’ when it’s accurate and appropriate to do so, and if you’re based in the EU and you’re uncertain whether your leave-on product really is a leave-on cosmetic, please, please check and double check the ingredients, with the manufacturers, or with one of the many support groups online, including ourselves.