Health for humans, animals & plants

Parabens and isothiazolinones in cosmetic products

Final report of the priority action A-038-17

Parabens and isothiazolinones were used as preservatives in cosmetic products. Their use has since been restricted or banned. The aim of the focus action "Parabens and isothiazolinones in cosmetic products" was to check whether the legal requirements are being complied with.

61 samples from all over Austria were examined. 16 samples were rejected:

  • Isothiazolinones were detected in seven samples; these are prohibited in cosmetic products that remain on the skin
  • One sample contained the banned isobutylparaben.
  • One sample contained the prohibited mixture of methylisothiazolinone (MI) and methylchloroisothia-zolinone (MCI).
  • The other complaints concerned labeling deficiencies. Of these, a preservative was not declared in four samples

Since July 30, 2015, only certain parabens may be used as preservatives in cosmetic products (methyl, ethyl, butyl and propyl parabens). Maximum levels have been set for parabens. Cosmetic products that contain the preservatives butyl and propyl parabens, remain on the skin and are designed for children under 3 years of age must carry the warning "Do not use in diaper area." Isopropylparaben, isobutylparaben, phenylparaben, benzylparaben and pentylparaben are prohibited. Isothiazolinones (methylisothiazolinone, methylchloroisothiazolinone) can cause allergic reactions and are prohibited in "leave-on" products (cosmetic products that remain on the skin or in the hair).

Last updated: 18.07.2022

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