Move over Parabens. It’s time to focus on MITs.
This post is quite different from my last posts. I hope you don't mind me taking on a more informative tone this time. It's only because it has come up in conversation quite a few times lately that I felt it time I put my thoughts and research into something that can be shared with everyone.
You may already know or have heard about those nasty parabens in body wash and other body cleansers. You also may already avoid them (awesome!). There are so many new body washes, shampoos and treatments that now claim to be paraben free. Just in case you were not aware, a paraben is a family of chemicals used as a preservative in body washes and the like. They stop bacteria growing. There has been a huge movement away from parabens in recent years because of their ability to seep into our bloodstream and mess up our hormones and do a whole raft of other things that are detrimental to our health.
However, in commercially produced substances, when one thing is removed, it must be replaced. So whilst our amazing body wash or shampoo might no longer contain a preservative from the Paraben family, they do contain other harmful preservatives in them.
Ok so I am going to get a bit fancy here… what to look for on the label:
Methylisothiazolinone (MIT): 2-methyl-4-isothiazoline-3-one, Neolone 950 preservative, MI, OriStar MIT and Microcare MT.
Methylchloroisothiazolinone (CMIT): 5-Chloro-2-methyl-4-isothiazolin-3-one and MCI.
These common preservatives are found in many liquid personal care products including Shampoo, conditioner, hair color, body wash, lotion, sunscreen, mascara, shaving cream, baby lotion, baby shampoo, hairspray, makeup remover, commercially manufactured liquid soaps and detergents. Oh my goodness that’s almost everything you could use in one day!
So what is so bad about MIT and CMIT? Both of these preservatives are known allergens and have been known to cause contact dermatitis, high sensitization, organ toxicity and even neurotoxicity. We can easily research all of this information and find that these chemicals can cause severe skin reactions in some people. What is interesting is that they have been around since the 1970s, and yet only about a decade later, these preservatives were alredy noted as contact allergens.
Since 2013 the use of these preservatives particularly in cosmetics has received increased media coverage in the UK and during my investigations, I found that some UK doctors have asked manufacturers to stop using these harmful chemicals – why are we not investigating this more here in Australia? (more interestingly, why cant I find any Australian based studies?)
I cannot tell you how many people say to me that they cannot use soap because they get a reaction from it. Sneaky advertising of “soap-free” products mean that we end up being fooled into using other products that contain known irritants. Out of curiosity I checked a number of products I have laying around in the back of my bathroom cupboard - with names like Herbal, Natures and Organic I would have thought them to be just that. But low and behold MIT and CMIT are in every single one of these common products. These prettily packaged chemicals have birds, butterflies and tropical garden pictures all over them and brightly coloured notes telling us how they are 100% Paraben Free. That's because we all know about Parabens. However not many of us know about MIT and CMIT so we are yet to see brightly coloured notes telling us that these products are free of these skin irritants.
A common allergic reaction to MIT and CMIT is eczema-like symptoms like redness and itching. Those who have longer or more intense exposure may experience burning sensations and blisters. To make matters worse, there have been known cases of these symptoms worsening after sun exposure – so why are they used in some sunscreens? Continued exposure can lead to high sensitization which will be triggered each time you come into contact with these chemicals. Of course there are some people who can use all of these products and not react at all. That is the beauty of individuality! However, for most of us, continued exposure to known irritants from common, every day products need to be avoided.
I find it scary how these are found in so many products. It isn’t like we can just cut out say, baby wipes, and be done with it! I used to use baby wipes all the time so this explains the irritation I got after a while!
So what can we do? First thing - buy artisan soap bars (of course) But not just any. The last thing you need is a soap made from a pre-manufactured melt and pour base. Ask your soap maker about the difference between melt and pour and cold process. If you want to know the details, you’ll have to email me :-)
What are the benefits of cold process soap? Your soap maker knows exactly what goes into each bar. The word Soap comes from Saponification, which means "saponified oil'. Oils such as olive oil and coconut oil make beautiful gentle soaps and can be calculated to have plenty of these nourishing oils in the bar once cured. In Sparrow Soap bars, there are no preservatives, and no harmful chemicals, just pure, natural soap the way it has been made for hundreds of years!
Sure the oils we use today are more refined and we have access to a huge range of superior oil , however the process remains the same and the result is worth the slow method. At the end of the day, there is so much information out there. If you are not happy with your body wash there are alternatives. As I say to each of my customers: All you can do is try something new until you find what works for you.