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One of the most essential skincare habits is to take off your makeup as you’re getting ready for bed.

But…are the particular face wipes you’re using packed with health risks instead of healthy nutrients?

Turns out, a preservative called methylisothiazolinone (MI), which helps control bacteria in pre-moistened facial wipes, may come with health risks.

“Over the last year or two, we’ve seen an explosion in the number of contact dermatitis cases caused by MI,” says Matthew Zirwas, MD, director of the contact dermatitis center at Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center. “It’s unbelievable, and it’s by far the most significant allergen I’ve ever seen.”

The preservative was approved for use in 2005, but as companies opted to use it more often in various types of cosmetic products, including facial wipes, soap and certain hair products, reports of allergic reactions began to grow.

“With soap, the ingredient gets applied to the skin and gets rinsed off, so there’s very little residue left,” says Zirwas. “But with a wipe, you don’t rinse, so whatever is in that wipe gets left on your skin at full concentration, which increases the chances of getting an allergic reaction from it.”

What Is Contact Dermatitis?

According to Mayo Clinic, contact dermatitis is a type of skin inflammation that occurs when substances touching your skin cause irritation or an allergic reaction. In most cases, the condition is neither contagious nor life-threatening, though many of the symptoms can make you feel very uncomfortable.

Symptoms of contact dermatitis can include:

  • Red rash or bumps
  • Itching, which may be severe
  • Dry, cracked, red patches, which may resemble a burn
  • Blisters, draining fluid and crusting in severe reactions
  • Skin rash limited to an exposed area — for example, directly under a watchband
  • Pain or tenderness

So, What Can You Do?

Before you buy face wipes, read the ingredient label. Methylisothiazolinone is often one of the last ingredients listed. Also, if you suspect that you’re having an allergic reaction to your face wipes, or any other cosmetic product, be sure to contact your primary care physician or a dermatologist as soon as you can.