Removal of parabens could be driving increase in skin allergies


Consumer demand for the removal of parabens from cosmetics could be behind the increase in skin allergies being reported by dermatologists.

A widely publicised report, written by leading dermatologists and delivered at the British Association of Dermatologists’ Annual Conference in July, found an increased incidence of contact allergy to preservatives methylisothiazolinone (MI) and methylchloroisothiazolinone (MCI), often found in cosmetic products.

However, Dr Diana Howard, Dermalogica’s vice president of technical services, said that consumer pressure to remove parabens from cosmetics has forced brands to turn to such alternatives.

“Some have opted for the older preservatives, MI and MCI, that had been used for many years but were abandoned with the concern that they were slow formaldehyde donors,” she said. “None of the alternatives are as benign as parabens and professional skin therapists can expect to see a higher incidence of skin irritation when alternative preservative systems are used.”

Dermatologist Dr John McFadden urged manufacturers to remove the ingredients from their products, saying, “We are in the midst of an outbreak of allergy to a preservative which we have not seen before in terms of scale in our lifetime.”

The Cosmetic, Toiletry and Perfumery Association, said that simply removing preservatives would be dangerous, adding that at the low levels at which they are used in skincare, they are safe.

Dermalogica’s education curriculum manager, Candice Gardner, added that thorough consultation is essential to help therapists identify if a client is at higher risk of irritation.

The ingredients can be found in products from leading professional brands, including Elemis and Clarins. Elemis director of product and treatment development Noella Gabriel said: “All our products are formulated strictly in compliance with global legislation and have full independent safety assessments to ensure their safe use.”