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Less Toxic Personal Products


The following items are all that are really needed for personal care, and are tolerated by most chemically sensitive people:  

·         basic soap made from vegetable oils, can also be used for shampoo

·         Coconut oil - use to moisturize your skin and hair

·         Baking soda for toothpaste

If you are able to go out to work or socialize you can try adding:

·         An unscented deodorant

·         Some very carefully selected cosmetics, e.g. Paul Pender's, a lip pencil and an eye pencil can be used for about everything

·         Hair spray or gel -can be made at home (see table below)

·         Sunscreen -The best and lest toxic are made from zinc oxide and can be made at home


Helpful Info.

1.       Always read the ingredient list. Look for "contains no dyes or perfumes". "Natural" is meaningless.

2.       Health food departments contain many less than healthful products.

3.       The FDA does not “approve” of toiletries. If it receives many complaints about a particular product, it may investigate. A product must be proven to be carcinogenic or toxic in order to be taken off the market (i.e., products are presumed safe until proven harmful).

4.       There are two kinds of product sensitivity:

a)       to products that are toxic. MCS people cannot use such products or be around people who have used them. Non-MCS people generally tolerate low doses, but may react to heavier doses or combinations.

b)    to generally non-toxic substances, such as lanolin, to which one may have an allergic reaction.

Sources for Personal Products:

Many of the larger Nutritional food and food cooperative’s stores sell unscented and petroleum free products.  Look for “no added dyes or scent” and “no Petrochemicals used in the production of this product”.   Mail order sources specializing in products for the chemically sensitive and that advertise in our newsletter are:  Needs,  The Living Source, and Janices (not on-line, call  800-janices, also try Safe Shopper's Directory.                          



Personal Care Products Table:  What to Avoid, What to Use


Products are grouped into categories based on acceptability for MCS; however, no product is safe for everyone.

Do not useindicates products that are either especially problematic or are mistakenly believed to be safe.


Product Category


Best for MCS

Ok for use by most highly chemically sensitive people

Next Best

For visitors to MCS homes, caretakers, and some people with MCS - unscented, not made from petrochemicals

Body Soap

Do not use:

Deodorant soaps;

Ivory (it is scented)

Baking soda

Pure soaps made from oils without additives (e.g. Dr. Bronner's Baby Mild, Kirk's Hard-water Unscented Castile Soap[i][1], Nature’s Made Organics Soy, fragrance free, homemade, unscented soaps.)


“Basic” soaps labeled “no added dyes or perfumes”, such as Sirena Coconut Soap , Kiss my Face, Olive Oil Soap.

Mildly scented castile soaps may be ok, ask those with MCS or allergies.


Do not use: Johnson & Johnson Baby shampoo  (it is scented)

For short hair, just use your body soap

Shampoos labeled “No added dyes or perfumes” e.g. AFM Satin Touch, Magic Botanicals, Pure Essentials, Tom’s of Maine

Cream Rinse

Cold water

1 T. vinegar or lemon juice in 1 c. water.

For dry hair treatment use coconut oil.

Conditioners labeled “No added dyes or perfumes”


Do not use


Nothing - allow your natural underarm detox system to work, eat right and "your sweat won't stink".

Baking soda,  Green clay

Unscented Deodorants: e.g. Nutribiotic unscented deodorant stick, Pure and Basic unscented, Nature’d France, unscented (some of these “unscented deodorants do have a stong smell of herbs.)

Body powder

Do not use talc or baby powder: contain scents and asbestos

Baking soda, cornstarch, arrowroot flour.

Country Comfort Baby Powder


Nothing - not necessary according to dentists.

Baking soda.

Hydrogen peroxide with baking soda

Eco-dent, Daily Care

Toothpaste made without formaldehyde




Hydrogen peroxide mixed with water, lemon juice, bits of clove, those little bottles of natural breath drops

Moisturizing Creams

Do not use baby lotion, it is scented.

Any tolerable vegetable oil - almond oil and jojoba oil do not get rancid

Plain coconut oil,  mixtures of natural oils and waxes such as: Un-petroleum Jelly, Granny’s Body Moisturizer, Country comfort- Herbal Savvy, Pure Herbal. [1][1]


Love your face (not a product, a state of mind)

Natural pencils and powders made from clay: Eco-Bella Botanicals, Bare Essentials, Los Gatos

Unscented makeup e.g. Paul Penders, Jason, Almay, Aubrey unscented versions


Do not use: PABA[ii][2]

Cover with clothing or stay out of the sun.

Sunflower oil for light protection.

Plain zinc oxide for heavy protection.

Homemade sunscreen of titanium oxide and oils or waxes[iii][3]

Lily of the Desert Sun Block [always ask before using sunscreen around people with MCS: even unscented versions have a strong odor and are very persistent]

Fingernail polish

Polish with a flannel cloth board - 40's retro style.

Finger nail polish is usually tolerated by EI’s on others when completely dry.

Shaving cream

Use your body soap (the little left-overs in a mug) with a shaving brush.

Simple Shaving Foam (electric razor)

After shave


Hot water; to avoid getting a rash, use a sharp razor and shave before showering, followed by cold water.

Lemon or vinegar diluted with water, Witch Hazel

Insect repellents

Do not use Avon Skin So Soft (why do you think it repels bugs?)

None - cover or go inside.

Try the "mosquito hat"

Try the insect noise machines if you are not electro-magnetically sensitive.

Citronella based repellents (made for animals too.)

Hair Spray

Do not use commercial hair sprays - even in a pump – see  Bill Moyer's Report - Trade Secrets


Kitchen mixtures such as egg white, sugar and water, stale beer (looses its smell), gelatin and water.

Aloe vera gel

Styling gels are less toxic - e.g. Kiss Kids, Hold Up, KD Jelly, Real Purity Styling Gel, Naturade Styling Spray (pump)


Do not use any




[If you want to try natural oils, be sure to ask before wearing them around someone with MCS or allergies.]


Do not wear

dry cleaned clothes or unwashed new clothes

Organic Cotton

Natural, untreated Cotton

Older cotton without strong dyes


Rayon, Linen, Tercel, Wool

Any clothing that is washed via less toxic cleaning methods enough to get the fabric finish out. (Natural fibers do not cling and thus do not need fabric treatments).


Mention of any brand names in this article are not endorsement of the product, nor are the choices limited to those brands- they are examples of some products some of our members have been able to use.  These products tend to come and go on the market and it is best for you to explore the alternatives yourself.


Footnotes to Personal Care Product Table –


[1][1] For a good heavy duty moisturizing bar, melt ½ cup of oil (olive, almond or any other tolerated oil), one ounce of bees wax and ½ cup of coconut oil together and pour into a disposable container to for a bar.

[i][1] Kirks Original Coco Hardwater Castile Soap - Unscented.  Grocery stores usually carry the scented version.  Order the unscented version from 1 800 82KIRKS; it is inexpensive.

[ii][2] PABA: Some chemicals can cause an allergic reaction–either by themselves or in combination with UVR. One such chemical is para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA), which was used in some of the earliest sunscreens developed. Because so many people are sensitive to PABA, its popularity and use has declined greatly in recent years.

[iii][3] Home Made Sunscreen- Obtain USP grade titanium oxide or zinc oxide (available from compounding pharmacies), almond oil (or other good oil) and beeswax.  Use 1 cup oil to 1 oz beeswax and 1-2 Tablespoons zinc or titanium oxide. Heat the oil just enough to melt the wax (grate or chop it first), then add the titanium or zinc oxide.


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