So many everyday shampoos contain methylisothiazolinone, and possibly methylchlorisothiazolinone too, that the MI-sensitive consumer can struggle to find good, affordable shampoos – especially when first diagnosed, and additionally when requiring products free from other ingredients, such as fragrances.
Here is a selection. For more products, see also our Hair Directory.
The Body Shop Shampoo Range
The brand has a MI-free policy, so all shampoos (and other products, including their conditioners) are safe to use. The shampoos include Ginger Scalp Care, and very popular Banana Shampoo. Browse their range at their Body Shop Amazon Stores in the USA, in Canada and in the UK, or see their US site here, or UK site here.
Faith In Nature Fragrance Free Shampoo (400ml)
Faith in Nature are entirely MI-free, so all their shampoos (and conditioners) are safe, but for those with fragrance sensitivities, this particular product is ideal. It suits those who like a slightly soapy feel to their shampoo, and a foam, as this product has ALS (ammonium laureth sulphate) rather than SLS, but it is very unlikely to trigger any sensitivities at all as it has a very plain and simple formulation. You can find it online, and in the UK in Holland and Barrett.
Green People Neutral Scent Free Shampoo (200ml)
Another fragrance free option, and one which, like the Faith in Nature shampoo, uses a sulphate – although in this case it’s sodium coco sulphate, which has a better reputation among advocates of natural cosmetics than ALS. Again, the entire GP range is isothiazolinone-free, and this is ideal for those with sensitive skin and allergies – including food allergies, as only corn and coconut derivatives are used, alongside herbal botanicals. Learn more on the Green People site. Products are on Amazon; for other stockists contact GP directly.
Hairprint are an American brand of hair color restoring products, which are particularly innovative and unique (for more, see our MI-free Hair Dye article). As well as this innovation, they also offer a set of four shampoos, which are also confirmed isothiazolinone-free. Their Bio-Active Kelp Shampoo (pictured right, along with matching conditioner), for instance, has the gentlest, most nourishing of ingredients — including aloe vera, coconut oil, coconut milk and vegetable glycerin — which is good for both dry scalps and hair that’s lost its usual bounce and edge. There’s also an Amla Butter Shampoo (for dandruff and scalp dryness) and a Fermenting Bamboo Shampoo (for gloss and shine).
JASON Gluten Free Shampoo (473ml)
Lots of shampoos (and conditioners) use wheat protein as it is excellent at building body and conditioning hair. Although little research has been done on the effects of gluten in cosmetics on those with celiac / coeliac disease or other gluten intolerance, many consumers, understandably, wish to avoid taking the ‘risk’. This product is not the only gluten free one on the market, but is one of the few to nail its colours so firmly to the mast. There are a dozen or so shampoos in the JASON range – including a fragrance free version – and the brand is safely isothiazolinone-free. For details see the US site here, the Canadian site here or the UK site here. In the UK, they are stocked by most health stores. You can also buy online.
Johnson’s Baby Shampoo (300ml)
It won’t win any friends for its natural qualities, as it contains SLES and petrochemical derivatives and artificial fragrances / colorants, but it is MI free – as is their entire ‘baby’ range, as they confirm here. (This appears to be true of their brand across other nations, as their South African site here confirms the same.) It’s also parabens free.
Neutrogena T/Gel Shampoos (125ml)
This is a small collection of shampoos, including a fragrance free one for sensitive scalps. The ingredients for UK products can be seen here. They are preserved with parabens not isothiazolinones.
For the US versions, click here, though it’s not always clear what the preservation system is in the products. They appear to be MI-free, but double check labels. (A search suggests the Triple Repair Fortifying Shampoo is the only MI-containing Neutrogena shampoo, so avoid that one.)
Odylique’s Gentle Herb Shampoo (20 / 200 / 500ml)
This product can divide opinion – a few people don’t seem to like it, but the many who do swear by it and are very faithful to it, as testified by the product being named best shampoo for sensitive scalps in the prestigious Guide des Meilleurs Cosmetiques 2015-16. It also received a gold medal in the ‘Free From’ Skincare Awards Hair Care category in 2013. It’s a simple formula, with aloe vera, coconut and corn cleansers, plus herbs, and contains no fragrance allergens or other undesirable ingredients. It does not contain any sulphates, and uses gentle detergent coco glucoside instead. Free from food allergens such as wheat and nuts too. You can buy a sampler for £2.50 on the Odylique site – a terrific service which more brands should offer.
QV Shampoos (200g)
These Australian shampoos – and conditioners – use parabens as preservatives and are safely MI free. Again, quite straightforward formulations, not particularly natural, but probably good for most with any kind of allergy or sensitivity. See the QV Skincare (Australia) site for more information.
Salcura Shampoos (200ml)
Two therapeutic shampoos especially formulated for problem scalps. One is the Omega Rich Shampoo for itchy scalps and psoriasis relief – which contains a variety of omega oils, has some excellent anecdotal reports of effectiveness, and is one of Salcura’s signature products. The other is a child’s shampoo, the Bioskin Junior Shampoo, which is for younger scalps prone to eczema and dryness. They use phenoxyethanol and ethylhexylglycerin preservatives, in place of the dreaded isothiazolinones, and have an MI-free policy across all their products, which include conditioners.
Everyday high-street brands often contain MI, so take extreme care when shopping in regular supermarkets, stores and pharmacies.
TRESemme is reported as being MI Free on some sites, but at least some of their products contain MI, both in UK and US.
The same goes for Garnier Fructis. In the US, these products contain it.
Further, at least some shampoos by Herbal Essences, John Frieda, Charles Worthington, Pantene and Head & Shoulders contain both MI and MCI.