Methylchloroisothiazolinone/Methylisothiazolinone (aka Kathon CG)

methylisothiazolinoneI don’t know many people who can actually say either of these names.  There are a number of acronyms used, but my favourite coping strategy is used by the owner of a small personal care company who simply refers to the combination as ‘methy whatsits’.  Now I’ve put that out there I hope you’ll join me in trying to make that the standard term for this preservative combination.  

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I say combination because these two preservatives always used to be used together.    Recently it has been possible to use just the Methylisothiazolinone.  I’ll come to the motivation behind that a bit later.

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Methylchloroisothiazolinone/Methylisothiazolinone combined – the perfect preservative?

They are very good preservatives.  The combination works extremely well at astonishingly low levels.  Around 15ppm is just about the maximum that is ever used and it often does well at much lower levels.

Both the components are highly water soluble, and have hardly any potential to penetrate the skin or to build up in the body if they manage to do so.  They are also readily biodegradable.  The combination of very low use levels, high biodegradability and zero risk of accumulation in fatty tissues make them a very environmentally friendly option.  If you have read Silent Spring, or my review of it, you’ll be well aware that accumulation in tissues can  have unpredictable and undesirable consequences.   No such worries with the methy whatsits.

They have also been extensively tested for potential carcinogenicity, and have passed with flying colours.

Is Methylchloroisothiazolinone Alone the Answer?

Unfortunately they have an Achilles heal.  At high concentrations they are quite bad skin irritants.  This is a real tragedy, because in every other respect they really are the ideal preservative system.  It is a shame because this irritancy really isn’t a problem so long as you keep the concentration low enough.  Unfortunately as you’ll see from my post about patch testing of cosmetic preservatives it is only too possible for a preservative to get an undeserved reputation.  And this is particularly true of this pair.

The trade name is much easier to pronounce.  It is Kathon CG.  Kathon CG has been widely criticised for its sensitisation.  I think it is impossible to dismiss the fact that it is a sensitiser, but it is easy to exaggerate just how bad it is.  In particular if you look at the extensive literature it is pretty rare to find it studied at its typical use level in actual products.

Kathon CG is regularly slated on blogs extolling the benefits of natural products.  It is so easy to find data about its skin sensitising properties it would be rather surprising if it didn’t.  Needless to say this information is usually presented as if this is a major scandal.  I don’t know what can be done about this.  The simple statement ‘Kathon CG is a potent skin sensitiser’ is true.   The more accurate ‘Kathon CG is a potent skin sensitiser at levels well above its normal use levels, but despite that it is still a good choice because it is so effective you can use it at really low levels so you get hardly any skin reactions in normal use’ doesn’t really trip off the tongue nearly as well.

How much of a problem are Methylchloroisothiazolinone and Methylisothiazolinone?

The reality is that you are very unlikely indeed to have any problems with a product that contains this preservative.  It is used in some very big selling products indeed and if it was really giving rise to a lot of reactions it would be changed.  But once something gets a bad name it is a devil of a job to shift it.  Recently it has become possible to get the methylisothiazolinone on its own.  This is the least sensitising of the two and so this might be a chance to re-evaluate it.  But the trouble is it is still going to look bad when tested at a high level in a patch test.  And I don’t think many consumers pay that much attention to the details.  But maybe I am too pessimistic and this will give us a new option.   I hope so.

In the meantime, I think that Kathon CG and its derivatives are very close to being the ideal preservative.  Whenever I need to preserve something in the lab – which is quite often, bugs are everywhere – it is my first choice.  It hasn’t let me down yet.

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References

This recent review by the EU’s scientific committee makes it clear just how much data, and just how positive that data is, for this combination of materials.  The only issue of concern was sensitisation, which was considered as not an issue in rinse off products.  It did not draw any conclusion about its suitability in leave on products.

http://ec.europa.eu/health/scientific_committees/consumer_safety/docs/sccs_o_009.pdf

A review paper from 2000 that finds reactions to this material to be comparable to other preservatives.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10908182

Israeli review of skin reactions which again showed relatively low levels of reactions.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16958921

Patch tests on a large sample of nearly 2,000 eczema patients only elicited 1.6% patch test reactions to Kathon CG.  This was using a level much higher than would be used in cosmetics.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18709291

 

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78 Responses to Methylchloroisothiazolinone/Methylisothiazolinone (aka Kathon CG)

  1. Jim Bullock says:

    Colin,
    (second attempt to submit a comment so I hope this is not duplicated!)
    A really good post on an interesting topic. As an ex-biocider (who can still pronounce the names) I am now pretty neutral on biocide choice. Some points worthy discussion of discussion perhaps:

    If I remember correctly (and I don’t have the data any more) MIT has to be used at higher concentrations than CMIT/MIT blends to achieve the same preservation efficacy – not because MIT is so bad but because CMIT is effective at very low concentrations indeed. This has implications for cost-effectiveness as well as chossing the right concentration when comparing possible adverse effects.

    Microbiologists (who should know better than I do) used to tell me it was a bad idea to base a preservation strategy on only one class of compounds as that means there is only one antimicrobial mechanism in play which may leave gaps in the efficacy spectrum and encourage tolerance. So better to use CMIT/MIT in combination with a completely different preservative.

    Your point about skin senstisation at “much higher than normal use” levels is very well made. The lack of general understanding of the difference between hazard classification and risk assessment leads to opinions of the sort you refer to. I won’t go further into this debate except to repeat the mantra: Risk = Hazard x Exposure…

  2. rhelune says:

    I’m one of those rare persons who can’t use them (in concentrations permitted in the EU). It took me a while to find out. Previously I’ve thought all liquid soaps (not really soaps, but that’s what they’re called) had to be irritating (drying actually, but dryness irritates). I have been using various Avon Senses liquid soaps, the only difference being fragrance and colour, so after a few bottles I’ve stopped reading the labels. Some 5 or 6 different Avon Senses liquid soaps irritated me. The next one (some LE summer or winter scent) didn’t. I checked the label, these 2 preservatives weren’t listed (the other ingredients were the same).

    Because of paraben scaremongering some products are being reformulated using methylisothiazolinone (Eucerin):( Will there be any products left for me?

  3. Rebecca says:

    Hi Colin,

    I was going to ask you about these very chemicals as I was perusing over my new bottle of Panten shampoo this evening (in the bath) and wondering if those chemophobes were right – the longer the chemical name the more heinous the chemical. My instinct was that they were either misinformed or merely cretins but I needed some facts or at least some sensible discussion. Again thank you for your very interesting artical.

    How about one on sodium lauryl sulphate…is it really that bad? I noticed it in the pantent as well and also have seen it in my kids emulsifying ointment.

    Rebecca

  4. Valerie says:

    You really DO know how to pick ‘em! Interesting read – as with any ingredient, there is a limitation to the levels that can be used without irritating the skin. There are scarier things that could be used. Give me an article on DMDM Hydantoin!

  5. Valerie says:

    please?

  6. Dan says:

    maybe of interest – Low-level efficacy of cosmetic preservatives
    M. D. Lundov1, J. D.
    Synopsis
    Preservation using combinations of preservatives has several advantages. This study shows that the concentration of some of the most frequently used allergenic preservatives can be markedly lowered when they are combined with phenoxyethanol. The antimicrobial efficacy of cosmetic preservatives and known allergens of various potency [diazolidinyl urea, methylchloroisothiazolinone/methylisothiazolinone (MCI/MI), methylisothiazolinone (MI) and phenoxyethanol] was tested alone and in various combinations of two or three preservatives together. The preservatives were tested for minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) values and possible synergy using fractional inhibitory concentration. MCI/MI was the only preservative showing low-level MIC against all four tested microorganisms: Staphylococcus aureus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Candida albicans and Aspergillus niger. Different combinations of the preservatives indicated additive effects against the microorganisms. No combination of preservatives showed any inhibitory action on each other. Challenge tests with different concentrations and combinations were performed in a cosmetic cream. Diazolidinyl urea and MCI/MI alone were ineffective against C. albicans in a challenge test at concentrations up to 16 times higher than the observed MIC values. When combining phenoxyethanol with either one of the allergenic preservatives diazolidinyl urea, MCI/MI or MI, the cosmetic cream was adequately preserved at concentrations well below the preservatives’ MIC values as well as 10–20 times below the maximum permitted concentrations. By using combinations of preservatives, effective preservation can be achieved with lower concentrations of allergenic preservatives
    International Journal of Cos Science April 2011

  7. Rags says:

    Out of the 160 different chemicals I have been wearing on my back for a week, what is the one chemical I am actually allergic to???

    Methylisothiazolinone

    Your right I probably can’t say it, I am a mere diploma graduate.

    I work using my hands in a drying environment where I am exposed to numerous toxins on a daily basis.

    I come home and as I have the dreaded eczema the most allergenic substance I thought I had in my home was the fur the cats drop. I use non bio detergent, I have cold water cleaning system – no chemicals just cloths, and I drink goat or soya milk, never cow.

    After hearing the results of my week without bath, I check through the list of products and ingredients I supplied to my dermatologist and find that the only one with Methylisothiazolinone is my hair conditioner. I’m lucky my hair doesn’t get greasy so I only wash it once or twice a week. I know I have to do a controlled study of not using Methylisothiazolinone for a while before I get reviewed again, but you should have seen the angry mess on my back, exactly where the Methylisothiazolinone was.

    If that was what was causing my splitting, dry and raw hands all this time, then low levels of this chemical can cause people to not be able to do the job they were trained to do, which impacts on health as well as socio-economic and psychological well-being. One tiny chemical with a long name and a lot to answer for.

  8. Colin says:

    I’m sorry to hear about your experience Rags. If you have the time, it would be very public spirited to notify the manufacturer of your experience. All big cosmetic companies keep records of skin reactions reported to them and any product with an abnormally high level of complaints will be reformulated.

  9. Colin says:

    Fascinating stuff Dan. Of course, as I am sure you realise, using a combination of preservatives mean there are more names on the ingredient list which makes you even more vulnerable to scare stories. Ingredient lists are probably, on balance, a good thing. But they do have some perverse effects as well.

  10. M says:

    My original visit to the web was merely to research food that my G6PD deficient son should avoid. My research on Napthalene then took me to MITs with someone referring to them as being chemically similar to ‘Agent Orange’. After reading your post I conclude that the amounts used as an ingredient are most probably harmless but I’d still like to know more. Are they best avoided in cleaning products (one of which I have and had to refer to their website — wasn’t listed on bottle)
    Thank you

  11. Sabine says:

    Colin, this is really interesting. The preservative I use doesn’t contain the M-thingies, but this one looks interesting and I may be tempted to give them a try. Do you know if there are any PH restrictions and are they good for formulas that are low on water and heavy on oil?

    rags and rhelune, check out you local soap makers (do a search on the internet or pop into your local farmers market). Cold Processed soap doesn’t contain preservatives and natural liquid soap (made with lye not from surfactants) doesn’t either. Depending on the style of your local soap maker, they may also sell balms, creams and other things without these preservatives and if you get to know them, may even be able to make something specifically for you, avoiding anything you are allergic to.

  12. Colin says:

    Similar to agent orange? I haven’t heard that one before. There is no particular similarity I can see. I think MIT is safe enough.

  13. Colin says:

    @Sabine If you are thinking of using them I suggest you’d do best to pick a blend with other preservatives. Euxyl K100 is one option but there are others. Do bear in mind that they get a lot of bad press and some toxicologists who do assessments are unwilling to sign them off in leave on products. I have never had the slightest problem with pH or oil levels.

  14. Ted says:

    My daughter is alergic to Kathon cg or methy and on a recent trip to Turkey her eyes came up like golf balls, tracked it down to the biocide in the swiming pool full uf the stuff so take care.

  15. Colin says:

    Preserving a swimming pool with Kathon CG? That must have cost them a fortune. And it wouldn’t work very well either. Oh well, there is no accounting for the things some people do. I hope your daughter has recovered.

  16. SteveO says:

    I’m just halfway through my allergy patch testing… had 150 one for past two days.
    Patches are now off, and the dreaded Methys “appear” to be my one downfall.
    Thats what has obviously brought me to this site – so thank you for the above informative post!
    Bizarrwe thing is, my body washes, shampoos and shaving gels don’t “seem” to have this ingredient in them.. the only thing in the house I can find is the Fairy washing Up Liquid.
    Surely doing the washing up once a day can’t make my skin that bad… can it?
    Maybe I should be digging deeper to try and find a resolve, but having wasted the last 9 months getting this far I’m running out of patience and bother!

  17. Chris says:

    Originally, I was just allergic to formaldehyde but have developed the allergy to Kathon CG, which I’ve found out; it is fairly common to be allergic to both.

  18. Liz says:

    Hi there! I too am allergic to this preservative, as my allergy test resulted.. Unfortunately, because there are easier things to be allergic to… I spend a lot of money and time checking all sorts of products in supermarkets and shops, and since this stuff is in almost everything, it’s fairly impossible for me to have no rash at all. My latest “irritation” has been with my lips, because apparently it’s being used in lipsticks and lipglosses too. The nasty thing with cosmetics is, you don’t always get the wrapping with it, so the ingredients are more difficult to trace.
    Imo, the washing up liguids and laundry liquids are unavoidable, because they all have methylisotiazolinone in it.. Still the question remains: could you get a rash from clothes washed in laundry liquid with methy?

  19. Fiona says:

    Hi – i recently have been tested as being allergic to this aswel. I am a hairdresser and was only working 5 hours a week in contact with it. I get reactions to clothes being washed in it, hair care products etc – some times you feel like you are going crazy as your itchy all the time. Biggest problem i have is not knowing or being able to find the ingredients listed and there are so many names for it. I have read somewhere that is very close to Agent Orange. ( my dad was a vietnam vet) We are now wondering if the exposure from him has been passed down to me. Hence why i am allergic.

  20. Colin says:

    Hello Fiona. Sorry to hear about your troubles. I don’t think your father’s experience in Vietnam has anything to do with your allergy to this material. For a start, it bears no resemblance to Agent Orange. And even if it did it isn’t the sort of thing that gets passed on. It should be listed as Methylchloroisothiazolinone (and) methylisothiazolinone on ingredient lists, so it isn’t too difficult to work out what to avoid in cosmetic products. I didn’t realise it was used in laundry products. Maybe try switching to powder ones? They shouldn’t need preservation at all. (I don’t know much about laundry products so I stand to be corrected there if anyone knows better.)

  21. Pingback: Creme Nivea Ao Redor Do Mundo | East to West Skin Care

  22. ERIN says:

    I am also allergic to this preservative. I have absolutely no other allergies. actually it is not easy and almost impossible to find skincare product that do not contain this preservative. I am hoping to be proved wrong and someone knows an easier way to find them. I have been tested and this is certainly the thing I am allergic to. Instant reaction – eyes water, nose blocks and waters sking itchy and then raw. Any clues for a source and or website to find suitable skin care products (moisturisers etc) without of course promoting any brand. My initial reaction came with eye cream and moisturisers but it was whn the builders got to work with the “eco friendly” water based paint and glues that the really big contact reaction happened.

    Help and SOS

  23. Clive White says:

    I too have just been patch tested and found to be allergic to this substance. I have spent a few hours already, but can’t find a shampoo that does not contain it.
    Like Lesley above, is there a list of products free from this, it would be much easier to consult this than try and find out product by product, which is not easy. The shampoo I have been using contains this substance but it is not shown on the label, you have to go to the manufacturers site to find out. It seems rediculous that somewhere there is not an easy database that we can consult.
    Anybosy know of one? or at least a shampoo?

  24. Colin says:

    Thanks to everyone for sharing their experiences. I am beginning to think that it would be useful to have a ‘free from’ list online somewhere. The trouble is it would be troublesome to keep it up to date. I might try and create one on here for a while as an experiment to see how difficult it is.

  25. Erin says:

    A free from list would be invaluable. There are lists about of those that contain it but no accompanying list to point you ate the positive (ie products that do not). I have taken to emailing companies and asking them. It is time consuming but there seems no other way. I realise that we that suffer reactions to this preservative are a small minority but still….

    One thing to say is that many “natural” products also contain it. So you really have to be sure. Sadly anything that does not contain it seems to more expensive than those that do (all to do with economy of scale I assume).

    Hope you start your list Colin! I could start with my small list that I have already if you ever decide to experiment.

    Erin

  26. Clive White says:

    This is the best site I have found so far, but it still leaves a lot to be desired http://www.goodguide.com/ingredients/258653-methylchloroisothiazolinone

  27. Bev says:

    My daughter has developed an allergy to methylchloroisthiazolinone! …and I’ve learned the word as it’s contained in so many different products! Her reaction to it has been severe so I now have to take my glasses and read the labels on every product that comes into contact with her skin, from skin care products, cosmetics and hair products to sun creams to detergents…the list is endless and as some others have mentioned, it isn’t always listed on product labels. L’oreal Elvive is one of the only hair product brands that don’t contain the dreaded ingredient, SOME of the Timotei range are OK but we got caught out with that one as some of the range contains it. Ironically, the product that caused the worst reaction in the patch testing (apart from the individual ingredient) was Huggies baby wipes, the packaging claiming them to be ‘as gentle as cotton wool and water’!

  28. GILL THOMAS says:

    Hi interesting coments. I to have just been tested and the results show that my allergy is methylisothiazlino which came up in my Clarins make up and pantene shampoo. I was so bad over christmas with my eyes and face it spoilt my holiday the make up was a gift from my husband who thought that I would be better with this class of product. I am trying simple soap and shampoo as it is not listed as having this agent in it. Avon produts appear to use this agent as well.

  29. Colin says:

    Thanks for sharing that Gill. I think Simple are generally a pretty good bet for people with sensitive skin, but it would be good to hear of a positive experience from an actual sufferer. Incidentally Simple tend to use the parabens as their preservative of choice from what I can see. This is probably the best option for minimising skin reactions overall, but it obviously won’t suit everybody.

  30. Sarah says:

    Hi I just linked to your website from British Beauty Blogger and I think it’s great. I get so annoyed about mis-represented test results – in all areas of science, so thank you.

    Also if you are looking for more products for your list, I *think* the NakedBodyCare products are free of the Methy Whatsits.

  31. Colin says:

    Thanks for your kind words Sarah. Naked look like a responsible natural company who don’t indulge in scaremongering, and their products look fun. They don’t talk about the azonilones on their website but I haven’t found any listed on any of their packs yet. As a green company they shouldn’t have any particular issue with them so I don’t think we can assume they are all okay.

  32. GILL THOMAS says:

    Hi just thought I would let you know that I have had an email from ECOVER they have confirmed from their lab in Belgium that their products do not contain Methy Whatsits so thats good news for me I am so scared to use anything at the moment having just been tested and found that all my swollen eyes, face and iritation was due to this horrible chemical. I can start cleaning again.

  33. GILL THOMAS says:

    HI Colin I have spent some time with the girls in my local Body Shop they have huge books which contain all the ingredients they use in their products, they also gave me some samples to try. Early this week I e-mailed Body shop and have just had a reply back from their customer services to say that their technical team can confirm that they do not use METHLISOTHIAZOLINONE in any of their product and it doesn’t have an alternative name. I thought this might be helpful to you. Only last week I was tested and confirmed that it was methy whatsit that was causing all my problem and was so worried that I could not use any cosmetics again but I now have new hopes.

  34. Colin says:

    Thanks Gill. Duly noted.

  35. Dr. Jardin says:

    Methylisothiazolinone is NOT safe for use. It is a biocide neurotoxin, meaning it kills brain cells and can damage your nervous system.

    I suggest you amend your post.

    http://jpet.aspetjournals.org/content/317/3/1320

  36. Colin says:

    @Dr Jardin – thanks for drawing this to my attention. Can I draw your attention to the link at the bottom. http://ijt.sagepub.com/content/29/4_suppl/187S.abstract of that link. It shows that this paper was included in the CIR review’s assessment of this product which specifically concluded that it was not a neurotoxin at the levels used in cosmetics. Thanks for your contribution and hopefully I have put your mind at rest.

  37. Di Morris says:

    Agent orange – could we be talking about disperse dye orange – http://www.satra.co.uk/spotlight/article_view.php?id=290

  38. Colin says:

    That might be the origin of the confusion Di. Sillier things have happened.

  39. Becky says:

    Hi, Does anyone know which household cleaners do not contain methylchoroisothiazolinone i have recently had a patch test which has concluded i have an allergy to this.

    Thanks

  40. Mandy says:

    Wow – can’t believe there are other folks out there with same allergy to ‘methy thingies’ as me. I was patch tested in 1987/88 and have never met anyone with same allergy!

    It was much harder back in the 80’s and 90’s, before the level of product labelling we have today, to find ‘methy thingie’ free products.

    However, my biggest reaction has always been to paint and as there is no labelling on paint pots it’s always been a case of try it and see and then having to live with the rashes etc.

  41. Carol Johnson says:

    After suffering for years with swollen, itchy eyelids, and cracked hands an allergy test six years ago showed I was allergic to a range of ingredients, one of them methychloroisothiazoline also formaldehyde. I religiously check shampoos , creams and conditioners and have found the Simple range, some Loreal,do not contain methy. however, I do check everytime because I have found that manufacturers change ingredients quite often. This is I feel an important point to make as you do get complacent. I came to this site after suffering again in the past week with itchy burnt skin and swollen lips, and feel quite relieved that the others suffer and I am not just neurotic as I have been told! I have always used Nivea lotion to take off my make up but after checking was horrified to see it has methy in! So going to look for a cleanser without this at lunchtime, which may take some time. I am pleased I have found a no nonsense site.

  42. megan says:

    I have also bee tested allergic to the methy….. I am a hairstylist & am finding it in everything I use. I have had a terrible problem with exema on my lips & am reading labels & searching the net for info. I also can’t find a list of products free of methy.. I apreciate chatting w people who share my dilemma!

  43. Lucas says:

    Interesting read. Well written and thought out, a very balanced and un-bias article and I appreciate the personal level of the conclusion…an honest opinion is always refreshing.

    I must conclude that it seems no-one has enough data to make a definitive statement on this topic.

    For me, a point of concern about the studies ratifying the use of ‘Methy’ such as the one referred to on March 11th by ‘Dr Jardin’ & ‘Colin’ is the conflict of interest in these studies, both for and against the matter.

    This is the review aforementioned.
    http://ijt.sagepub.com/content/29/4_suppl/187S.abstract

    This review is part of the ‘International Journal of Toxicology’ directed by one F. Alan Andersen, Ph.D.
    http://www.fdaaa.org/fdaaa_leadership/aAndersen.php

    Here is an interview with F. Alan Andersen, Ph.D.
    http://personalcaretruth.com/2011/08/the-cosmetic-ingredient-review-and-safe-cosmetics/

    In this interview, Andersen states, “The CIR (Cosmetic Ingredient Review) program was created 35 years ago by the cosmetics industry with the support of the FDA and the Consumer Federation of America.”

    The CIR website states, “The Cosmetic Ingredient Review was established in 1976 by the industry trade association (then the Cosmetic, Toiletry, and Fragrance Association, now the Personal Care Products Council), with the support of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Consumer Federation of America. Although funded by the Council, CIR and the review process are independent from the Council and the cosmetics industry. CIR operates under a set of procedures.”

    From the Personal Care Products Council website, “Based in Washington, D.C., the Personal Care Products Council is the leading national trade association representing the global cosmetic and personal care products industry. Founded in 1894, the Council represents more than 600 member companies who manufacture, distribute, and supply the vast majority of finished personal care products marketed in the U.S. As the makers of a diverse range of products millions of consumers rely on everyday, from sunscreens, toothpaste and shampoo to moisturizer, lipstick and fragrance, personal care products companies are global leaders committed to product safety, quality and innovation.”

    My point? Andersen himself said that the CIR, set up to help regulate the practice of the cosmetics industry, is bankrolled by the cosmetics industry. As someone who is not a docter, an end user of said products and reliant on the integrity of these reports, the conflict of interest here means I simply cannot trust any report coming from the CIR and affiliate companies. So who can you trust? Although their practice is completely legal, and this may make people sleep easier at night, the moral implications for me on a personal level are massive.

    I have found the same problem when comparing test results of supposed ‘independent’ review companies bankrolled by chemical companies involved in the production of psychotropic medication. It seems logical to assume (despite assumption being a very dangerous business) that other areas of the scientific study are payed for in much the same way.

    Wherever profit is involved, it will forever be a difficulty to find out the true facts.

  44. Juan Carlos Rodriguez says:

    It is true that Methylthiazolinone and Methylchloroisothiazolinone are used to straighten and relaxing hair , in products in high concentrations.
    If this is possible, what concentration can be used ?

    best Regards

    Juan Carlos Rodriguez

  45. Colin says:

    The concentrations used are tiny and way too low to have any effect on the hair. I don’t think that they would have a hair straightening effect at any concentration.

  46. Tracy says:

    I have also recently patch tested positive to these two ingredients and just wanted to warn everyone thinking they’re buying products without these, that they can be hidden under the term “fragrance” and “parfum.”
    This information came directly from my amazing dermatologist. You can’t find hardly anything without fragrance so I’m trying to find products that a) don’t list either preservative, b) are fragrance free, & c) or lists fragrance as the very last ingredient in hopes that at least lowering the exposure may help.
    Good luck to everyone…this is miserable!

  47. Colin says:

    Sorry to hear that patch test result Tracy. As you say, it really is miserable.

    I don’t think that thing about fragrances is right. I have never come across a fragrance that contained any preservative and I can’t think of any reason why one should contain one. If a product isn’t labelled with methylchloroisothiazolinone and methylisothiazolinone then it shouldn’t contain them.

  48. Tania says:

    Hi, My partner has recently tested allergic to Kathon so we’re busy researching. Thank you everyone for your comments and useful information. Someone asked about laundry liquid and makeup (okay he doesn’t wear makeup but I’m trying to clear everything in the household for him). We tend to buy organic, so that has helped. So far the Castille style “soaps” have proved clear, and so has the “Ecover” brand of household products. The beauty of Ecover is their website lists all ingredients. Our next big challenge is the pool. I have emailed the pool chemical supplier (as provided by the pool company) but no reply yet. Good luck everyone – but take heart, his symptoms cleared very quickly once we took control of the chemicals in the house and his workplace.

  49. Anne says:

    Hi just had patch testing done and have found out allergic to Methylisothiazolinone, is this known by other names Help please

    Thanks

  50. Colin says:

    @Anne EU regulations and similar ones in most other countries require consistent ingredient labelling so it should be labelled as methylisothiazolinone on all products that contain it. Very small companies sometimes get these things a bit wrong and put the trade name on. In that case it will be called Kathon CG or Euxyl K100. But most of the time you can trust the ingredient list.

  51. Wenda Cannedy says:

    I had patch testing done this week and am allergic to Methylisothiazolinone. Wow! This is so new to me and is very overwhelming.. Thank-you for having this website. It has been very helpful. My dermatologist recommended free & clear products. Have not tried them yet. Also vanicream products.

  52. Yvette says:

    I too am allergic and my immunologist gave me a list that is updated in almost real time of products that are free of both kathon and benzoyl peroxide (my other irritant). These lists come from databases and your doctor should be giving you one as part of treatment

  53. Daniel says:

    Last week a patch test revealed I’m severely allergic to methylisothiazolinone and methylchloroisothiazolinone – a cause for celebration, really, because now I at least know what caused the horrific eczema that has eben covering my face for the last three months. Apparently, I got sensitized back in October while doing a complete renovation of my apartment, using common white paint for all the walls and ceilings in every room. None of my cosmetic products contain the methy stuff – but since the paint does, it could easily be singled out as the main offender. Unfortunately, even three months later I’m still reacting quite strongly to the fumes when I’m in the apartment. According to the methylisothiazolinone-allergy-hotline from the paint company (amazingly almost every paint company here in Germany seems to have one) that problem might last another six months if I’m unlucky. However, they also told me that it’s possible to neutralize the methy whatsits with a solution of sodium thiosulfate pentahydrate, which needs to be applied to all surfaces covered with the paint. I decided to wait another month before I try this, hoping the fumes lessen to a tolerable degree by themselves until then. Has anyone else heard of the sodium thing or maybe even tried it? I’d love to know if it’s really worth the trouble.

  54. Lana says:

    I have just done some alergy tests because I’ve had rashes for months on and off and it is because Kathon CG, so it’s not so ideal…

  55. Colin says:

    @Lana that is the tragedy of this preservative. It isn’t ideal at all if you are allergic to it.

  56. Linda C.Farsund says:

    Merhylizothiazolinone ( and yes, i can pronounce it) has made my life a living hell for almost a year before i got tested and my dermatologist identified the problem( the specialists waiting list are very long in Norway so its not uncomon to have to wait almost a year before you get an appointment) I have big boils and exema inside my hands and arms and have to cover them with ointment, gauze and gloves both during day and at night because of the pain. The product that triggered my reaction was Aussie shampoo and conditioner (Australian brand)

  57. Kara says:

    I have been dealing with this for a couple years. I have had eczema from the time I was an infant to about 17 years old. Then I pretty much kept it under control with creams. I have never been able to wear lipstick or nail polish but could wear eye shadow, eye liner and mascara. About 3 years ago my eczema came back with an attitude. I finally broke down and had the tests, after 25+ years of peace. I was allergic to MCI and MI (shorten version). I am still finding products that don’t list these ingredients, like dish detergent. I even break out playing with my daughters hair because she uses products with these ingreds. My poor husband had to change shampoos for this reason.
    I have found I can use Aveeno bodywash and Johnson’s Baby Shampoo. I am going to try some of the products you guys have listed. I am Still looking for a good sunscreen because I seem to break out after using several of them. I am allergic to Caine products so thats tricky on sunburn. Lol And I don’t know if Gain Laundry detergent has MCI and MI in them but I can just hug someone who washes their clothes in that stuff and go crazy. Anyone else have that problem?
    Colin, I read the post about the swimming pool and Biocide and was curious about the relations to MCI and MI because after I’m in a pool for a few minutes my eyes and face start itching like crazy and I end up having to get out and dry my face off.
    Thanks again for the helpful information on here and I can’t wait for that list either. I don’t blame you if you give that idea up though. Exhausting work!

  58. Maria says:

    I’m so pleased I’ve stumbled upon this website, I shall continue to check for updates on what I can and cannot use. After 18 months of suffering with eczema/dermatitis on my body and face, I’ve finally been patch tested and today discovered I am allergic to methychloroisothiazolinone/methylisothiazolinone, thimerosal, 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol and nickel. My initial feeling is one of being overwhelmed and afraid I’m allergic to the entire world, but I really want/need to sort this and get my life – and healthy skin – back. I still can’t pinpoint when/why my various eczema areas began to flare up on a daily basis, but I’m hoping one day it will all be history. Recently I’ve been using Aveeno products which are very comforting. Any other advice happily received!

  59. Colin says:

    A few more MCI/MI free products e-mailed privately to me by Mitzy

    This is from my Allergist – Examples of Products FREE of CI+ e-Isothiazolinone. Free ‘N’ Clear Shampoo & Conditioner. Almay products. Sisley Botanical Pressed Powder with Hawthorne. Orlane Creme Cover-up. Sisley Botanical eye shadow.

  60. Diane Harrison says:

    I was diagnosed earlier this year with contact dermatitis and then I used asda little angles baby wipes on my face they must have changed their formula and my face broke out terribly I went back to hospital and got patch tested last week and found out im allergic to methylchloroisothiazolinone/methylisothiazolinone(kathlon CG) so far I have detected it is contained in anti bacterial products in a high dose found it in fairy liquid and handwash. I also found out the contact dermatitis is down to these products too!!!!! where can I find out ALL the products this horrible product is in????

  61. PhilG says:

    Colin thanks for all your valuable and helpful information. My wife found she has the methylchloroisothiazolinone/methylisothiazolinone allergy. its a real nightmare finding products that are not only safe for her to use and for me to use as well. we found the soap and shave cream i was using was also causing her skin irritation. i’ve switched them and it has alleviated some of her problems, but i need a dandruff shampoo….any suggestions?

  62. Colin says:

    Thanks for drawing that article to my attention – I was wondering why this post was getting so much traffic over the last couple of days. I can’t say that I have seen anything that indicates anything like an epidemic. This preservative does get used a lot, and consequently does generate a lot of reactions but I haven’t seen anything to justify that news story. In particular, the regulations haven’t changed so the statement that higher levels are now permitted is simply factually wrong.

    The reality is that any widely used preservative is going to generate reactions. If everyone in the industry uses the same small number of preservatives then people who have a problem with them are going to struggle to find products that they can use.

  63. Abi Burgoyne says:

    I wish I could upload a photo of my fingertips a few weeks ago, before I was diagnosed with this allergy. My friends actually said it looked as though I had leprosy. Secondary infection crept in and my fingernails were literally being pulled off by the infection underneath, my hands looked as though I had severe chemical burns. It was horrific. If you could have seen that, you would know just how bad this preservative can affect the skin.

  64. Maria says:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01clzkg

    Interesting 6 minute programme broadcast on radio 4 today, which led me to this site.

  65. Colin says:

    Just got a note through from Janet

    Allergy
    Message I have received a message from Ecover that all their products are MI/MCI free except Stain Remover, Non Biological Laundry Gel and Bio Laundry Gel. They do a wide range of household cleaning products. I am based in UK so not sure if these products are available worldwide.

  66. Colin says:

    Another range that is free of MI/MCI from Janet. I don’t know anything about this company myself.

    “I am delighted to confirm that a wonderful skin care range called Emma Hardie http://www.emmahardie.com do not contain MCI & MI had this confirmed from the company direct.”

  67. Beth says:

    Hi, really hoping you can help as I have a few technical questions which I’m struggling to find answers to! For the last few months I’ve looked like a cross between a chemical burns / car crash victim on a daily basis. This has finally been attributed to a Methylchloroisothiazolinone/Methylisothiazolinone allergy following patch testing last week. I’m therefore trying to eradicate my home of everything that contains it – so far ALL my cleaning products and 90% of my cosmetics! I just wanted to know if Isothiazolinone, Benzisothiazolinone and Chloroisothiazolinone are the same as Methylisothiazolinone? Or similar enough that I should be removing them too? Also am I correct in thinking Methylparaben is safe? I’m so paranoid of anything staring ‘Methyl’ or ending ‘Lione’, the last few months have been a living hell and I’m just desperate to do everything I can to make sure this problem doesn’t keep returning. Thanks in advance!

  68. Colin says:

    Hi Beth,

    Okay you have asked two questions. To the first one, the way allergies work is that they are basically your body having a problem with a particular shape. That shape can be any size. So any molecule that has that shape will trigger off the reaction. There is no way of knowing without doing a lot more work whether you are allergic to methylchloroisothiazolinone alone, or if any member of the family will have the same effect. If I were in your position I’d avoid anything with the ‘thiazolinone’ bit in the name. I can’t be sure this is good advice, but that does seem to be the bit that causes the most problem.

    The methyl bit of the name is a group that is found on a great many chemicals and I doubt very much you are allergic to that bit. This means that you should be fine with methylparaben. Methylparaben and its relatives like propylparaben are very different in structure to the thiazolinones so you should be fine with them. In fact skin reactions to parabens are very infrequent indeed which is one of the reasons they are so popular with cosmetic scientists. I think you should be fine with them.

    I have just today posted a list that a sufferer has passed onto me of safe products compiled by an American dermatologist. You might find it helpful.

    http://colinsbeautypages.co.uk/list-mimci-free-products/

  69. Beth says:

    Very interesting programme on this last night, starts at around 36 minutes in.

  70. Colin says:

    Thanks for that link Beth. I was watching, and I have put my review here.

    http://colinsbeautypages.co.uk/methylisothiazolinone-lets-turn-scare-story/

  71. Beth says:

    Hello me again,

    Sorry to be a pain but I need some further advice… despite eradicating MI etc. from my home, the flair ups keep happening. My face is no better than before. I was told by a lady in Lush yesterday that in this country companies aren’t legally required to list ingredients on beauty products if the ingredient makes up less than 3% of the item. Surely this can’t be true, but I’m thinking if it is, maybe I’m still using cosmetics which have it in and it’s just not listed on the packaging…

  72. Colin says:

    I’m afraid the lady in Lush is misinformed. If a product contains MI then it will be on the pack. Cosmetics aren’t the only things that contain MI so that might explain it. Or you could be allergic to something else in addition.

  73. Eleni says:

    I have been suffering from swollen, burning, itchy eyes for a few months now. Was told by dermatologists to use no cosmetics, no perfumes, and no fragrant candles. They told me to use Cliniderm shampoo and conditioner, cetaphil as a body soap, glaxal base as a moisturizer and Vaseline petroleum jelly, marcelle deodorant,along with a prescription for cortisone cream for the eyes. All these products are fragrance free and preservative free. I still don’t know what I am allergic to and will only be getting my patch tests at the end of the month. I am convinced that I am allergic to methylchloroisothiazolinon . A few months ago we built a new room in our home I am wondering if the products used are causing me this problem, also decided to use a huggies wipe last week without thinking that gave me a severe allergic reaction that sent me to the hospital. Do any of you feel that you get a reaction simply by something someone else uses in your household? I am currently having a flare up and I have not used anything that would trigger me, except perhaps entering that newly renovated room….hmmmm??

  74. Sharon says:

    Hi. My daughter over tha last 2 yrs has suffered severe reactions to her hands and lips with what looks like chemical burns and was patch tested and found she is allergic to mythlwhatsit. And since the test it has spread across her body. It’s been horrid and very upsetting to see her suffer in such pain and that her 2 young children have had to do the washing cleaning and sometimes dressing of their mum whilst in so much pain and distress this alone has made her feel like a but if a useless mum. Though she is a wonderful mother to her children and they love her so much. I am very grateful to everyone of you who unfortunately suffer from this same debilitating problem but would like to thank you for your input. As this has given her hope that there is things to use without this mtthlwatsit in and to get better and maybe through my search I can leave some info and new advice to help others. Thank you. Sharon.

  75. Maria says:

    I have found out (without patch test) that I am also allergic to methylisothiazolinone. I do not get any itching, eczema or watery eyes, but a small swelling appears above my upper eyelids whenever I come into contact with MI. The swelling lasts for a few days, then goes down again. Does anyone else get a similar reaction?

    It is indeed difficult to avoid the stuff. I now use Timotei Pure shampoo which does not contain MI and is a very nice product, too. Cream E45 is good, as is the Ecover range of household cleaners.

  76. chloe rose says:

    Does anybody know whether maybelline foundation has an ingrediant as known as ‘methylchloroisothiazolinone’ in it , its covered with that name when actually its ‘bleach’

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