Parabens, MIT, CIT, Formalin - Are these preservatives Cosmetic 'Nasties' ?

Parabens, MIT, CIT, Formalin - Are these preservatives Cosmetic 'Nasties' ?

A typical scenario: you treat yourself with a shopping session in your favourite beauty department. You are looking forward to trying out the new shampoo that was featured and reviewed in the fashion magazine you bought during your lunch. As soon as you grab the product, there is something catching your attention - 'paraben free' label on the front of the product - "What exactly are parabens again?'' might run through your thoughts and you type three words in your search engine 'What. Are. Parabens'. And now you are overwhelmed with articles bashing parabens, preservatives, chemicals in general for plenty of reasons, but since you are in a rush, the only two words you mainly get to notice are 'carcinogenic effects'. And you actually believe them.
What is the real truth behind these chemicals though? 

  • Parabens

They describe a family of anti-fungal / anti-bacterial ingredients that have been used for decades.

Cosmetics typically use short-chain parabens (e.g. Methyl) and some long-chain parabens (e.g. Propyl) and there has been use of some branched chain (e.g. Isobutyl).

Safety concerns mainly surround theories that some parabens can have a weak estrogenic activity. That could theoretically increase the growth of tumours. However, there is no evidence to suggest this is the case and the actual original hoo-ha about parabens came from unfounded and scientifically-flawed reports.

There are restrictions on the use of some parabens including bans on branched chain parabens now, as regulators have not been satisfied about their safety in terms of irritation.

Methyl Paraben, in our cosmetic scientists opinion, is the best, safest, mildest and all round ideal preservative, for leave-on cosmetics. 

MERUMAYA don’t use it due to public perception, and some battles aren’t worth the energy.

  • MIT = Methylisothiazolinone

A nasty preservative that is effective because it is nasty. Typically found in rinse-off products, but was approved as a leave-on preservative a few years ago – much to the shock of most cosmetic scientists!  It’s now once again banned from leave-on products and quite rightly.

There are a lot of links to MIT causing allergic reactions. Isothiazolinones are used in laundry and household products, so the onset of allergic reactions, can be triggered by a cumulative exposure effect.

MERUMAYA avoid this preservative.

  • CIT = Chloroisothiazolinone

This is used in combination with MIT, in a lot of rinse-off products.

Again, a nasty but effective preservative. This one is even nastier than MIT and is purely for rinse-off products and quite rightly, not permitted in leave-on products. Same allergy issues apply as noted for MIT.

MERUMAYA avoid this preservative.

  • Formalin = Formaldehyde

This is a preservative used in cosmetics and does have links with being cancerous.  The jury is out on this to some extent, and it is still used (in some preservatives that work by releasing formaldehyde into the formulation over time). It is dose dependent and once again the view of all regulatory bodies is formaldehyde-doning preservatives are safe at the levels stipulated.

MERUMAYA avoid formaldehyde-donors.

This blog post is based on information provided by one of our Cosmetic Scientists.


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