Protecting yourself from MI - Sunsense

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Protecting yourself from MI


What is MI?

MI (Methylisothiazolinone) is a preservative used in many skin care products, including baby wipes and sunscreen. Its anti-bacterial properties kill unwanted bacteria and prevent further contamination in these products.

What’s the risk?
The use of MI in skincare is currently under review by the TGA as it can cause allergic contact dermatitis (ACD)1, which can appear as an itchy red rash on the skin similar to eczema. Not only does it cause a reaction, but research published in the Medical Journal of Australia has stated that the rate of allergic reactions to MI is rising at an alarming speed; their testing showing a jump from 3.5% to 11.3 % in two years from 2011 to 20132.

Dr Jennifer Cahill, a dermatologist with the Skin and Cancer Foundation, who conducted the research, says, “MI is now the most common cause of allergic contact dermatitis in our patient population.”

As is common with ACD, an individual can have contact with the substance with no reaction for some time, however once a reaction starts, continued exposure to the substance may lead to increased sensitivity, and even progression from localised reactions to generalised ones3.

Where is it found?
MI is one of the most commonly used preservatives in Australia, appearing in sunscreens, baby wipes, cosmetics, shampoo and more.


Protecting yourself
Rosemary Nixon, of the Skin and Cancer Foundation, has said “All over the world manufacturers are taking notice and in Europe, industry has recognised that this preservative needs to be eliminated.”

The Therapeutic Goods Administration in Australia is currently undergoing a review of the maximum allowable levels of MI in cosmetic and therapeutic goods, after calls from organisations like the Skin and Cancer Foundation to remove it from all leave-on products due to the alarming increase in adverse reactions. Currently MI is only allowed in leave-on cosmetic products or therapeutic goods in preparations of 0.01% or less of MI. The proposed review would mean it can only be used in rinse-off cosmetic preparations or therapeutic goods in preparations of 0.0015% or less of MI.

We recommend using altogether MI free products to avoid any risk. Try the SunSense range of sunscreens, or QV Face and QV Skincare for washes, moisturisers, shampoo and conditioners, all of which you can rely on to be totally MI free. At Ego Pharmaceuticals we have never used MI and all of our products are MI free – we even ensure that the raw materials used in our products haven’t been preserved with MI, another source of contamination that some may overlook. We specialise in the science of healthy skin, and make it our mission to develop products suitable for sensitive skins containing as few sensitising ingredients as possible.


1. Gonçalo M, Goossens A. Whilst Rome burns: the epidemic of contact allergy to methylisothiazolinone. Contact Dermatitis 2013;68(5):257–8
2. Cahill JL, Toholka RW, Nixon RL. Methylisothiazolinone in baby wipes: a rising star among causes of contact dermatitis. Med J Aust 2014;200(4):208
3. Oakley A, Post R., Allergic Contact Dermatitis [Internet] 1997 [Updated 2016; cited 15 June 2017]. Available from:

We always recommend doing a patch test on a small area of skin with any new products and waiting 24 hours before using to avoid adverse reactions.

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