Anyone with sensitive skin knows it’s not always easy to find skincare products that work for your face and body. Your first step is to begin to read the ingredient label. With a little knowledge, certain ingredients will set off a warning bell in your head, letting you know to pass on particular products. To give you a place to start I’ve researched what ingredients are most likely to cause problems.
1.) ALCOHOL– Look for Stearyl alcohol, cetostearyl alcohol or acetyl alcohol, esostearyl, isopropyl or anything else with “alcohol” in its name. It dilates blood vessels, causing a more flushing appearance, and keeps the skin from processing Vitamin A.
Why avoid it: Alcohol can have a drying, irritating effect on the skin. It can cause sensitive skin to flare up.
2.) PROPYLENE GLYCOL – This is used in antifreeze or hydraulic fluid and is a solvent, surfactant and wetting agent. Just as you wouldn’t wash your face in fluid from your car, avoid using it on your skin in your personal care products. It penetrates the skin quickly and is used in some deodorants, cosmetics, lotions, shampoos and even toothpaste.
Why avoid it: It can cause tearing, itching and redness to the eyes, and redness and itching to sensitive skin. It can cause contact dermatitis, kidney damage, skin dehydration and chronic surface damage to the skin, according to a 1988 study.
3.) PARABENS – A preservative, too harsh for sensitive skin. It’s cheap, so you’ll find it in many products.
Why avoid it: It’s been found to spark allergic reactions in some with sensitive skin. A recent study also found parabens in the tissue from breast tumors, which is not a reason not to use it if you have sensitive skin, but is a reason for everyone to avoid it.
4.) SODIUM LAURYL SULFATE– A caustic detergent. This is what makes your body or facial cleansers and shampoos suds. It’s also used in engine degreasers, floor cleaners, and car wash detergents.
Why avoid it: That makes you feel like they’re working, but are not only not necessary, but they can irritate and damage the skin, leading to dryness, a lizard-like effect, and loss of flexibility. It abrades the skin’s protective layers and can open the way for other harmful ingredients to flood in.
5.) FORMALDYHYDE and formaldehyde-based preservatives and formaldehyde releasers: This includes the ureas, imidazolidinyl and diazolidinyl, quaternium-15, DMDM hydantoin and sodium hydroxymethylglycinate. It is a colorless gas or liquid with a strong, overpowering odor. It’s used to make disinfectants, in embalming fluid in manufacturing resins to made adhesives and waterproof coatings.
Why avoid it: It’s a preservative, but can also cause blistering of the skin, inflame eczema, and it can lead to respiratory problems and nose, throat, and eye irritation. It’s also a known carcinogen and hazardous to breathe.
In addition, fragrances, and the phalates that are used to enhance them, dyes or colors, and evens some botanicals can cause skin irritation. Anything you are allergic to can cause a reaction. Simply start with the best products you can find and try them. You are the ultimate judge as to what products work for your skin.