Tag Archives: problems

Latest News on MI


I get a lot of traffic to this blog from people interested in methylisothiazolinone, or as it is now known MI.   For people who haven’t been following the story, here’s a quick recap.  MI has been used for about 40 years in combination with a closely related chemical called methylchloroisothiazolinone.  I’ll call that MCI.   The combination works extremely well at very low levels.  Its Achilles Heel is that it causes a lot of allergic reactions when used at higher levels.  This took formulators a while to work out when it was first introduced.  But the level was scaled down and the reactions went down.  Continue reading

Sensitive Skin

sensitive skin

An interesting question from Patricia that I think might interest some other people.

I have sensitive skin and always look for cosmetic products which are free of harsh chemicals. I was not aware of the m1 preservative until today when a report was made on the breakfast show and will in future try to find a product which does not include it. However, I have been aware of parabens for some time and have tried to use products that do not include parabens, difficult. Lloyds the Chemist did bring out a range of their own brand moisturisers parabens free, but for some reason I can’t find that range now, think it may be discontinued. Inecto make a moisture replenishing body lotion which is paraben free, I love this, and have given to friends and to one young friend in particular who suffers from dermatitis and she likes it very much. I have checked some of the most expensive brands of cosmetics, and for some reason most seem to include parabens in their make up, don’t know why because surely cosmetics, particularly lipsticks, are something which are used up pretty quickly, I know mine are.

I think there are two distinct meanings to the term sensitive skin. Some people have skin that is just a lot more porous and dry than others. This means that it is not a good barrier and is prone to becoming dry and itchy. I can sympathise with this as my skin is a bit like this, and is getting worse as I get older. Continue reading

Milk of Magnesia for the Skin

Milk of Magnesia

This is an odd one.  Alexi writes

Hi, Colin

I have question about milk of magnesia. A lot of ladies are saying that it’s effective at controlling oil on their skin, but is it safe? I’ve heard that milk of magnesia has a pH of 10.5. Wouldn’t it disrupt the skins acid mantle over a long period of time?

I had this discussion with a couple of other ladies. One told me that she asked her professors (retired doctors) and they told her it’s not strong enough to change the skins pH. Another lady told me that her husband (who’s a cosmetic chemist) told her that using it daily would not cause any long term damage. I would like to know your opinion. Thank you!

I have no idea what would suggest to someone that applying a treatment for an upset stomach to ones face was a good idea. Continue reading

coconut oil causes spots

Coconut Oil causes spots?


One of the drawbacks I have found with setting myself up as an internet guru is that the more questions I get the more I realise how little I know.  Take this one from Rebecca.

Hello. First off, I am not entirely sure if this is a type of scientific problem that is addressable, or even common, but I thought it was startling and strange. I have always had good skin, no acne problems as a teenager. I would get the occasional pimple but it was never anything severe. I think that is pretty lucky. However, when I met my boyfriend (now fiance) he introduced me to coconut oil, to cook with. I had never heard of it, much less tried it. Fast forward a few weeks. I began breaking out like crazy, but after several months I noticed it was only on my cheeks. I was devastated, and since I have quite a healthy diet I tried everything from making sure I had a clean pillow case, washing my face am and pm, everything. I would get at least one new blemish a day. I did some online research, which I am not sure how trustworthy that can be, but I found that coconut oil could have been the culprit. I have since stopped cooking with it (note: I never used it directly on my skin, only ingested it) and my skin has improved dramatically. I no longer get any blemishes. I read that coconut oil can release liposaccharides and these can let gut bacteria into the bloodstream. This in turn was causing my body to try to fight this off, and I think it manifested as acne, but only on my cheeks. Do you know if this is really the case? Could I just be allergic to coconut oil? I can hardly believe this substance did so much damage. Do you think others have this problem? Is it common? My fiance can eat the coconut oil on food with no trouble at all. I am glad I found a solution for myself but I am just wondering at the science behind it! Thanks!

Well that one has me baffled, other than to say we are all different.  I have never heard of this happening with coconut oil before, and given that it is staple food ingredient across wide stretches of the globe I can’t imagine it is very common. Continue reading

Can You See Your Skin Peeling from Peeling Gels?


Whoops, not that kind of peel

It is nice to get a question from one of my oldest friends on Twitter, Musical Houses.

Hi Colin, I was hoping you’d be able to answer a burning question I have regarding peeling gels. They are HUGE in Asia right now (and making their way to the West), and they claim to exfoliate gently. They are hugely popular because they appear to ‘work’ – when you rub the product on your face you get all these little white balls which look like dead skin cells. A typical ingredients list looks like this: water, glycerin, acrylates/C10-30, alkyl acrylate crosspolymer, dicocodimonium, chloride, steartrimonium bromide, aloe barbadensis leaf extract, gingko biloba extract, rosmarinus officinalis/rosemary leaf extract, butylene glycol. I don’t see any exfoliating on the list, but instead see a whole bunch of polymers. Do you think it’s possible that the little white balls produced are a reaction within the product itself that causes the product to pill up, forming those little white balls? I’m rather skeptical that all this is actually dead skin. Was wondering how products like these work?

I hate to have confirm your skepticism.  You are quite right, you are not seeing dead skin peel off. Continue reading

Synthetic or Natural Preservatives?


Deb asks whether natural preservatives are safer than synthetic ones.

Hi Colin,  stumbled across your site somehow and so now have a question – I personally prefer to use “natural” preservatives (well actually prefer to make natural products with essential oils etc) over synthetic preservatives – the thought being that the synthetic preservatives may be more likely to cause skin irritation due to their synthetic make up – so what is your view in the whole dilemma? Is my thought process correct or is it flawed? Would love to know your professional cosmetic scientist view and the chief instigators of skin sensitivity synthetic or natural.



Continue reading

Colin Solves Your Problems 11: SLS and SLES


SLS is good at forming spherical structures

Jean writes:

The old one about SLS and SLES I have tried using products with more, allegedly, greener detergents but my skin reacts to them, itching and dryness, but when I use products with the above detergent, I don’t have a problem. Is it because , although It is claimed that SLS and SLES are harsher on the skin, the composition of the products by bigger companies, who seem to spend a lot of money on formulations, are better and more complex allowing for a gentler finished product? I have come to the conclusion that a detergent is a detergent and maybe it is best just to use a good soap made with oils and sodium hydroxide. Love your site for info, very informative. I am sick of all the scaremongering sites and wonder whether the people who write some of this stuff realise how daft they look.


Continue reading

Colin Solves Your Problems 6: Milia



I have suffered from milia for many years and want to know which products are good for preventing and treating milia. I understand I need to exfoliate well but wondered if you could recommend a good skin care range cleanse exfoliate and moisturise that won’t add to the milia. Also is there a better foundation or blusher to use as my milia spots tend to build up on my cheeks were I would place blusher.

Many Thanks


Continue reading