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 modest 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 in the UK contact GP directly. See also the Green People Australia store.
Hairprint are an American brand of hair color restoring products, which are particularly innovative and wholly 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).
JASON Aloe Vera Shampoo (473ml)
All of JASON shampoos (and conditioners) are safe, but if you’re looking for a particularly moisturising and gentle one, then the aloe vera option may be the one you lean towards. It is highly nourishing, with vitamins and minerals, and the plant-derived panthenols it boasts help with the all-important moisture retention. This is one of the most affordable brands out there. There are a dozen or so other shampoos in the JASON range — including a fragrance free version — and the brand is safely isothiazolinone-free. To buy, Walmart in the US sometimes have good deals or try Planet Organic in the UK.
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. Find it widely in high street stores.
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 appear to be preserved with various non-isothiazolinone preservatives.
For the US versions, click here; they appear to use different preservatives to the UK products, such as TEA and DMDM hydantoin. They seem to be MI-free from the ingredients provided, but double check labels.
This all applies to the T/Gel products. Other Neutrogena shampoos should now be safe too, at least in the UK. There used to be an MI-containing Neutrogena shampoo called Triple Repair Fortifying Shampoo but this appears to have been discontinued (though old stock may still lurk on some shelves). The search function for the US website does not work for ingredients, but none that I checked contain isothiazolinones.
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 has also received a gold medal in the ‘Free From’ Skincare Awards Hair Care category. 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. It’s a UK-based brand, so check out the product on their website here, but you can also get it through Amazon in various countries.
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.