Woman's face blistered after using anti-wrinkle cream

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Marlene Corrall

The fight against ageing was never going to be easy. We work tirelessly, plastering our faces with cream, serum and masks in a desperate attempt to hold back the hands of time - with somewhat mixed results. Sometimes it's worth all the effort, sometimes it's a bit disappointing, but for Marlene Corrall, the result has been horrendous.

She is claiming to have suffered an extreme reaction to an anti-ageing face cream, leaving her face blistered and swollen.

Corrall, a 66 year old senior carer from Barrow Upon Soar in Leicestershire, told the Daily Mail that she suffered the reaction after using L'Oreal Paris Revitalift Laser Renewal products.

She claims that the painful blisters were so bad that she was prescribed steroids by her doctor, and it took six months to recover. She says she paid a private doctor, who told her she had reacted to methylisothiazolinone (MI) - which is included in some cosmetics to make them last longer.

A spokesperson from L'Oreal told the newspaper: "Consumer safety is always the highest priority for L'Oreal. The safety of all cosmetic products and their ingredients is governed by strict European laws."

"We're sorry to hear Mrs Corrall was not happy with the response she received. We would be willing to cover costs of a dermatologist appointment for her so she can better understand her reaction."

The chemical

A Watchdog programme highlighted a number of allergic reactions to this chemical in September, which at the time was included in Piz Buin's 1-day-long sun lotion. Piz Buin announced it would be removing the chemical from all its products designed to be left on the skin, and Vaseline, Brylcreem, Huggies and Nivea followed suit.

A spokesperson from Unilever, which makes the Vaseline and Brylcreem brands, told Watchdog that it was an important and common ingredient, but added that it was following dermatologists' concerns about MI and after discussing new findings, they decided to phase out use of the chemical.

Meanwhile a spokesperson from Nivea emphasised that the chemical had been approved for safe use by the experts, and had undergone rigorous tests, but it was working on replacing it in its products in response to consumer concerns.

L'Oreal said in a statement "MI is a very effective preservative that has been widely-used for years in many industries with a well-known safety record and is a preservative regulated by cosmetics legislation in Europe. MI has efficient anti-bacterial properties, which is why it is frequently used in cosmetic products, so that consumers can enjoy long-lasting and safe cosmetics."

"L'Oréal is aware of the concerns about MI (Methylisothiazolinone) and its allergy potential. Alongside the cosmetics industry, we are working closely with leading European dermatologists (the European Society of Contact Dermatitis) to develop a workable solution that will account for these potential effects and address these concerns."

What can you do?

While this chemical is commonly used, approved by the experts, and used every day with no side effects by the vast majority of people, there are some people who clearly have allergic reactions. In fact, there's a chance you could react to all sorts of products in cosmetics - whether chemical or natural.

The best answer to this problem is prevention: doing a test on a small area of skin before you apply any new cosmetics, and leaving it for a suitable length of time to see if any reaction develops.

However, if you have a reaction, it's worth taking photographs as evidence, and returning it to the manufacturer for a refund.

The Cosmetic, Toiletry and Perfumery Association also recommends that anyone who believes they have had a reaction to MI should contact the company that makes the product, so they can investigate. It says: "This feedback provides the industry with invaluable information, which can be acted on. "

It adds that if the symptoms persist, even after you stop using the product, you should see your GP.