EC ban on MIT preservative in leave-on cosmetics approved

By Lucy Whitehouse

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags European union

EC ban on MIT preservative in leave-on cosmetics approved
The European Commission has approved a ban on methylisothiazolinone (MIT) in leave-on cosmetics, a preservative traditionally used in water-based formulations - for example, in shampoos, liquid soaps, hand lotions and wet wipes.

In a regulation published in the Official Journal of the European Union, companies have until February 2017 to reformulate or discontinue any products containing MIT in the EU market.

A large proportion of industry players, however, have pre-empted the ban, as MIT use has been the subject of scrutiny and criticism since at least 2013, when industry body Cosmetics Europe called for its usage to be stopped at the earliest opportunity.

As such, many products have already been reformulated or discontinued ahead of this long-awaited official ban. MIT has been found to have sensitising potential, meaning it can cause allergic reactions such as skin inflammation and itchiness that increase in severity as a result of repeated exposures.


MIT has often been used as an alternative to parabens in the hunt for formulations that could offer ‘free-from’ claims; now however, it will no longer be available for use in EU products.

Previously, the preservative had been authorised as a preservative in cosmetic products at concentrations up to 100 parts per million (ppm).

The ban was proposed last year and was the subject of public consultation before being formally implemented last month due, according to the amendment, to an increased incidence of allergies induced by MIT.

According to preservative company Surfachem, this is the first in a two-step process: the second stage will see further restriction of MIT in rinse-off products, a vote for which is expected in February 2017.

Cases of allergic contact dermatitis attributed to MIT are ‘dramatically decreased’ in rinse-off formulations, according to Surfachem, however despite this, consumer goods manufacturers are under pressure to remove it from formulations as a precautionary measure.

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