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Christmas Cosmetics Warning

Posted 12/12/17

Throughout October and November, Local Authority Trading Standards Services have been participating in a Scottish National Product Safety Group project, focussing on MI in Cosmetics.

MI (methylisothiazolinone) is a preservative which was banned from inclusion in ‘Leave on’ cosmetics (e.g. face cream, hair gel and wet wipes) on the basis of safety since February 2017, as it has been linked to sensitisation and skin allergy issues. 

The results are not yet fully collated, but given that consumers may be purchasing cosmetic products as gifts in the run up to Christmas, Trading Standards teams are keen to highlight the potential issues, and ensure consumers know what they are buying.  Within one authority alone, 60% of premises visited were found to have non-complaint stock, and over 380 products were removed from sale; 225 items were withdrawn from the market for the presence of MI, but others related to the presence of a banned skin lightener, and 140 with incorrect or incomplete labelling, which may indicate that the products have not had a proper safety assessment carried out. 

Authorities throughout Scotland visited a number retailers and importers to check their stock – over 3500 items were checked. Based on provisional figures, MI was found in 71 different product lines examined. This is likely to rise as results continue to be received. 

Initial findings would suggest that a large proportion of these products have been imported into the UK, and these link to another ongoing project focussing on the importers of consumer goods. 

All products containing MI have been withdrawn from the market, and liaison with other Trading Standards Services throughout the UK is taking place, to ensure that any other stock on the market is identified and dealt with appropriately. Traders will be given the necessary advice to ensure future compliance. This has, however, also highlighted other issues in terms of cosmetics labelling and safety documentation. 

Paul Bannister, Society of Chief Officers of Trading Standards in Scotland (SCOTSS) Lead Officer for Consumer Product Safety, said:

“Imported Cosmetics can contain ingredients which, although legal elsewhere in the world, are prohibited by European safety legislation.  As retailers source and consumers purchase via a global market, we must ensure that products for UK consumers remain safe. 

“Trading Standards teams throughout the country continue to deliver outstanding outcomes for the public, protecting them from hidden dangers such as this. Without such intervention and the work of our trading standards teams, consumers could be exposed to hazardous and low quality cosmetic products, which have not undergone the proper Product Safety Assessments. 

“I am delighted that authorities throughout Scotland have been able to participate in this coordinated initiative, which demonstrates that changes in the law require to be effectively communicated to businesses effectively, but also rigorously enforced. Whilst we do not yet have fully collated results, early indications were that leave on cosmetics containing MI were still being sold, despite no longer being permitted. The protection of our citizens is paramount, and likewise those citizens must also have confidence that products on the shelves are of the highest level of safety.” 

MI is currently still permitted in rinse off cosmetic such as shampoo and shower gel, however it is also important for businesses to note that a significant reduction in the safe levels of MI permitted in rinse off products of 15 PPM will come into effect from 27th January 2018, with a sell through period until 27th April 2018. Businesses should seek any advice they require in advance by contacting their local trading standards service.

Notes for editors:

The Society of Chief Officers of Trading Standards in Scotland (SCOTSS), is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SC047951). Our members are professional trading standards managers representing every Scottish local authority trading standards service. We aim to educate, promote and support local services.

Contact details: 

Ken Daly

SCOTSS National Coordinator





SCOTSS is a Scottish Charitable Incorporate Organisation, SC047951


Paul Bannister

Trading Standards Manager

North Lanarkshire Council

Tel. 01236 856460


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