Why Are Beauty Products Harmful to Sensitive Skin?
People who experience allergy-like skin problems, such as redness, rash, or scaly patches, tend to blame foods. However, allergic reactions to food would rather cause hives, than chronic, itchy dermatitis.
According to specialists, rash and scaly patches are likely to be triggered by over-washing, as well as fragrances and other chemicals found in soaps, shampoos, and beauty products people use daily. Research suggests that more than 40 percent of people in North America have a sensitive skin.
Specialists point out that what you put onto the skin matters more than what you eat, when it comes to the symptoms like a face rash or scaly eyelids. Dermatologists believe that consumers should be more conscious about their skincare routine. In fact, even products labeled as “hypoallergenic” may trigger skin allergies.
What Is the Link Between Irritated Skin and Beauty Products?
Allergic contact dermatitis, or eczema, and non-allergic skin reactions induced by ingredients in cosmetics and cleansing products are getting more and more common these days.
Today, people tend to wash way more, compared to previous generations. However, very few actually understand how the skin is affected. According to experts, soaps and detergents remove important fat molecules and friendly bacteria from the skin, making it more sensitive. Applying beauty products to the skin that has been cleansed is likely to result in a rash. This is because of numerous irritating ingredients like fragrance and preservatives contained in these products.
Specialists suggest that irritation accumulates, and that there is some threshold after which the skin develops the reaction.
Yet, many people, both females and males, are obsessed with beauty products nowadays, and it’s a great news for the beauty industry, which is worth over $400 billion worldwide.
All those nice-looking and sweet-smelling creams, lotions, face serums, and oils seem so essential, that hardly anyone knows about the potential harm associated with these products.
Experts believe that the way people care for their skin should be changed. Cleansing the skin more gently and using less products on it can help to significantly reduce irritation and improve the condition of sensitive skin.
What Does Over-Washing Have to Do with Sensitive Skin?
With the growth of the soap industry, people do wash more often these days, which is usually once or twice a day.
According to dermatologists, it’s natural for skin to be slightly acidic. When it gets too alkaline, skin usually becomes dry and sensitive. Soaps and even water are generally alkaline, which means that excessive usage of cleansing can make the skin even more irritated.
Specialists compare the skin with a brick wall with the lipids (fat molecules) as the mortar. Even when you wash with hot water, your mortar is affected. When you use soap, it removes the dirt and the oil from the skin, leading to a damage of skin barrier. As a result, the skin becomes more itchy, irritated, and prone to allergies.
To avoid this, you may need to adjust your washing routine to your skin type. Generally, experts recommend washing only when it’s needed and avoiding very hot water and very long showers. If your skin is extremely sensitive, you may want to avoid showering daily. In this case, you can just wash “problematic” parts of the body, such as the underarms or the feet.
Why Are Beauty Products Harmful for Sensitive Skin?
When you wash your skin with soap, you remove the so-called mortar. If you apply moisturizers, toners and other cosmetics onto the damaged skin, it can become irritated and develop a rash.
This is caused by numerous chemicals contained in beauty products. For instance, a cleanser usually contains about 40 ingredients, while shampoos have around 30. Reactions to shampoos tend to appear first on the face or neck, which makes it difficult to determine the trigger.
Various ingredients contained in shampoos are hidden under the terms like “fragrance”. Besides, since they have water inside, a preservative should be added to prevent bacteria growth. Methylisothiazolinone (MI) is one of the biggest irritants associated with shampoos. In Europe, MI is only allowed in minuscule amounts in products that are rinsed off. However, in the United States it is still allowed. Linalool is another big offender.
These preservatives are known allergens, so it is possible to patch test against these chemicals.
Is There Any Difference Between Organic Perfumes and Fragrances?
According to dermatologists, the majority of skin outbreaks are caused by fragrances. There are patch tests available for specific fragrances. If you are allergic or sensitive to fragrance, you may be wondering whether using organic perfumes like essential oils is safe.
Many people think that their rash is caused by a synthetic fragrance, so they choose an organic one. However, it’s still fragrance, and it can still irritate your skin.
Thus, an essential oil is one thing – it may contain about 20 ingredients, all of which are obtained from a plant. Besides, many essential oils, including lavender oil, contain rash-inducing preservative linalool.
How Can You Treat the Irritated Skin?
The first thing you should to treat the skin damaged by excessive washing and use of beauty products is avoid the exposure to these products. You will need to stop using all the cosmetic, skincare and cleansing products you are using for at least the period of two weeks. This method is similar to the elimination diet in food allergies.
If you have sensitive skin, you should use products that are free of any fragrances and irritants. This applies to cleansers, moisturizers, shampoos, sunscreen, etc. Experts recommend trying brands like Avène, Aveeno, CeraVe, among others.
When the reaction has gone, you can start reintroducing products you were using. It should be one product, a week at a time. As soon as you find the reaction-causing product, remove from your routine.
Is Labeling of Allergenic and Irritating Products Regulated?
In the United States, oversight of cosmetic ingredients is covered by the Food and Drug Administration, which relies on its Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. This act does not require full ingredient or allergen labeling.
Besides, the use of the terms like “hypoallergenic” or “unscented” is not regulated, which means products with these terms on the label can still contain fragrance or other allergens. The term “fragrance-free” is not regulated either, but it’s considered to be more reliable. However, if you have a known skin allergy, it’s better to check with the company itself.
Fortunately, the situation is better in Europe. The EU legislation has banned three fragrances from beauty products and requires 23 allergens to be labeled. More potentially allergenic fragrances are under review.
Some beauty products sold in the United States (e.g. brands like L’Oréal and Unilever) follow the European regulations in the product labeling. However, products that are only available in North America don’t need to. Therefore, they can list potential allergens under the catchall terms like “perfume”.