Yes it’s probably true and no I’m not scare mongering; Dermatologists have recently seen a growth spurt (pardon the pun) in scalp complaints with sufferers experiencing sores, redness, inflammation and swelling, all classic signs of an allergic reaction namely Dermatitis. So would you be surprised if I told you regular shampoo and conditioner is causing these reactions?
Methaylisothiazolinome or M.I for short is a powerful biocide and preservative added to many household products such as shampoo and hair colorants. M.I extends the shelf life of products and stops the likes of bacteria and yeast forming. This unwanted preservative features in many household products such as washing up liquid, face wipes, bubble bath, hand cream, sun cream moisturiser and even oil based paints!
MI was used with MCI/MI (another preservative) for many years, but in 2005 the European Commission approved manufacturers to use it as a single-agent, which ironically was supposed to have less impact on allergy suffers but has had the opposite effect with an influx of reported cases due to this higher single dose. There have been calls to ban the substance completely. Data published in 2013 suggests allergy suffers are on the up - 1.94% in 2009 to 6.02% in 2012.
I’ve certainly seen the evidence first hand. Some of my own clients have complained of aggravated, red, sore scalps (it was initially one of my own clients that made me aware of M.I – thanks Gill!) and on investigating their bathroom cabinet, M.I was featured as an ingredient in their shampoo.
And whilst there is some good news with the European Cosmetics Trade Association advising its members to remove M.I from products left on the skin such as baby wipes and moisturisers, checking the labels on all your products is the by far the best option. If you think M.I is the reason for your newly acquired sensitive scalp, stop using the products immediately and symptoms should clear up after a week.
Finally it’s worth mentioning that at the beginning of this blog I said I wasn’t scare mongering and I’m not. To put it into context, if you haven’t yet reacted to M.I, you are unlikely to now. It’s not a demon, killer substance that should keep us awake with worry all night long. M.I is not even featured in the top ten but if your scalp has recently been having side effects from your new shampoo, it’s worth checking the label. After all being aware and choosing the right products for your hair (and scalp) can’t hurt.
Here are some of my favourite hair products that are M.I free
The Body Shop Banana Shampoo. (250mls, £4.50) This shampoo gently cleanses hair, leaving it beautifully shiny. It contains real banana puree and smells good enough to eat.
Aubrey’s Organic Nustyle Detangler and Shine Booster. (148mls, £8.99) Powerful anti-frizz ingredients in this certified organic formula that smooth’s out tangles, protects hair from breakage and heat damage and brings out natural shine.
Neals Yard Remedies Nurturing Rose Conditioner. (£11.50, 200mls) A deeply moisturising blend of olive and coconut oils combined with anti-oxidant maple extract and a gentle infusion of rose and calendula flowers for healthy, vibrant hair.
Wella Professionals Colours – Hair by Nicky McKenzie from £25.00