Finding suitable skin care products when you have sensitive skin and/or eczema can be hard work. Some moisturisers may work fine when your skin is good, but irritate you when your skin flares up, whilst others are just way too harsh. Understanding the list of ingredients in cleansers, moisturisers and skin care products can be very confusing, as most of them sound like unnatural chemicals, not natural kind ingredients. Packaging and marketing can be misleading too – many products will claim to be kind to the skin, reduce wrinkles and nourish – when in fact they contain worrying things that, if explained, you wouldn’t want to touch with a barge pole.
I took a look at the ingredients on one product on my shelf, Aveeno, which includes: Cetyl Alcohol, Dimethicone, Cera Micorciralline, Distearyldimonium… to name just a few. Aveeno is fragrance free, with a naturally active ingredient – Colloidal oatmeal. It apparently, moisturises dry skin for 24 hours – however Aveeno actually irritates my skin. When you buy a product marketed for eczema skin, do you understand what these ingredients are? They don’t sound nice, but rather like nasty diseases of some kind, or dangerous substances… however none of the above listed ingredients in Aveena are in the list of dangerous ones below. I would like to understand more about what they are, what they do and how they potentially affect my skin. More research needed…
I found this article online, “The 10 worst chemicals in cosmetics and personal care products”. In it the author discusses the effects of prolonged use of skin care products containing far more than ten potentially dangerous ingredients including:
- Lead – which can be found in some lipsticks, sunscreens and tooth whitening toothpastes
- Mercury and formaldehyde
- Triclosan is found in more than a handful of cosmetics, and now even in toothpaste, because it’s supposed to kill bacteria.
- Urea (Diazolidinyl or Imidazolidinyl) as a preservative
- Petroleum or petrolatum is commonly found in moisturisers. It forms an oily layer on the skin which blocks moisture evaporation. Just as aluminum in antiperspirants dangerously blocks and traps sweat, petroleum has adverse effects on skin. It is found in most eczema prescription skin emollients and creams, baby creams, makeup and wax depillatory creams.
- Coal tar – which is associated with shampoos and soaps recommended for the use of those with eczema and sensitive skin, causes cancer in lab mice when it’s injected into them.
- Dibutyl phthalate (DBP), the ingredient which provides that shiny, smooth, varnish look, comes at a steep price, and not just in dollars and cents. It’s thankfully banned in Europe
- Diethanolamine and Triethanolamine, more easily recognized as DEA and TEA
- D&C RED 6 is a synthetic dye produced from petroleum or coal tar sources; this dye is FDA-approved for use in pharmaceuticals and cosmetics
- Zinc used in sunscreens and moisturisers, can clog skin pores
- Titanium dioxide is found in concealers and even baby ointments
Not all products marketed for eczema are good for sensitive skin
Your skin is actually the largest organ in your body and it absorbs everthing you rub into it. We know, sometimes from painful experimentation, that even products sold for dry skin and eczema can actually be very bad for your skin. Read “Aqueous cream is the worst thing for eczema” to find out the shocking truth.
All this means that those who have eczema, psoriasis or dry skin will probably stick to the rather industrial large tubs of cream and emollient provided on prescription from the NHS e.g. Diprobase and Epaderm to name just a few. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not knocking these products. They are very good, don’t irritate and do the job of moisurising very well, but they’re hardly what I’d call ‘luxurious’. They don’t smell very nice and they don’t have natural ingredients such as lavendar, aloe vera, tea tree etc. which we know are very good for treating, healing and nourishing our skin naturally.
Epaderm, which I use regularly, contains liquid paraffin, emulsifying wax BP, cetastereayl, alcohol, sodium lauryl sulphate and yellow soft paraffin. Are any of these natural? Would you drink paraffin? Most people would drink alcohol but would you imagine you were rubbing these things regularly into your skin?
How do you know what products are suitable for eczema?
It’s a case or trial and error, asking for testers and trying on a small area before using widely. I often become sesnsitive on the third or fourth use so become alert to changes in your skin when trying a new product – be aware of whether your skin begins to itch, sting or a rash appears.
What works for one person may not work for another, so take your time, look for recommendations and reach out to producers to see if they can send you a trial pot to test before having to buy the whole item, only to find it’s no good! On the ££$$$ I’ve spend on skincare products I can’t use.
100% Aloe Vera gel
Historically, a major use of aloe vera was to soothe minor skin irritations. Many households kept a live aloe, or ‘burn plant’ for first-aid use. Essentially identical to the aloe vera’s inner leaf, our 100% stabilised aloe vera gel lubricates sensitive tissue safely. Specially prepared for topical application to moisturise, soothe and condition, Aloe Vera Gelly is a thick, translucent gel containing humectants and moisturisers. Readily absorbed by the skin, it soothes without staining clothes.
Aloe Vera is mentioned as far back as 16th century BC and its benefits for naturally soothing, cooling, and moisturising skin have been known of for centuries. When applied to your skin it can soothe minor burns, comfort and moisturise stressed skin, and even help aid in your skin’s ability to regenerate itself.
Aloe vera creates a protective layer on your skin, protecting and sealing in the natural anti-biotic and healing qualities. You may not need to, but you can apply moisturiser over the top of the aloe vera layer if your skin still feels tight.
Forever Living also promote the health benefits of drinking pure aloe vera juice. Drinking aloe vera gel (made only from the pure inner aloe vera gel of the leaf.) provides your body with 200 health promoting compounds, including 20 minerals, 18 amino acids and 12 vitamins. They also sell a whole range of natural aloe vera based skin care and cosmetic products. I’ve tried drinking aloe vera and personally, I hated it. It’s also very expensive, so be wary of anything expensive you would need to keep using to remain healed. I’m not knocking it, if it works for you, brilliant.
Fancy a pampering facial, but too scared to risk it?
If you wish you could have a pampering face mask, or facial treatment, but have suffered skin reactions in the past when you’ve tried this, you might like to try Forever Living products. I won (yes I know, I WON a facial treatment, I never win anything!) from Forever Living and was nervous about trying it. I needn’t have worried. Caroline Ashlee, who gave me facial, had checked out all the ingredients for me, and there was only one product which I think had macadamia nuts in it which we steered clear of, and another which she felt may be slightly too harsh for my sensitive skin. I felt positively radiant afterwards and had glowing youthful skin. I just wish I could afford to have this done more often as I’m not the type of person to learn how to, and stick to, a regular skin care routine like this. It’s like all those nice things like having a massage, reflexology or just stopping to smell the roses for a moment, that are so beneficial and reviving, but that we never make enough time to enjoy. Find out more about Forever Living products here: www.carolineashlee.myforever.biz/store
Pai skin care
All their products are formulated with sensitive and allergy-prone skin in mind. They carefully select ingredients with proven remedial and skin soothing properties and keep their products free from irritating chemicals and alcohol.
Chamomile & Rosehip sensitive skin cream
This sensitive skin cream is both soothing, gentle on the skin, and smells amazing. Pai were really helpful and responded to my queries about whether their products contained any nut ingredients. Some of the products say ‘contains nut oil’ on the packaging, and on further investigation, they are classifying apricot kernal oil as nut oil. The chamomile and rosehip cream doesn’t contain any nuts of the allergic kind, but do check before buying.
Rich in anti-oxidants and Omega 3 & 6, Chamomile and Rosehip work in perfect unison to soothe and protect sensitive skin. This delicately scented natural moisturiser has strong regenerative and anti-inflammatory properties. This sensitive skin cream is free from alcohol which can trigger conditions such as Rosacea. It is also free from chemical skin irritants including artificial fragrances, phenoxyethanol, propylene glycol and parabens.
Find out more about how to buy Pai organic skin care products online here: www.paiskincare.com
As a final footnote, both Pai Skincare and Raw Skin food mab fab range contain Linalool. This can occur naturally in plant oils, but can also be attributed to skin reactions. I have noticed very slight sensitivity to both but my skin is VERY sensitive. This may be due to the Linalool. More research to follow into Linalool.
Some natural products I use on my eczema skin
In my quest for healed skin and managing eczema naturally I have found some brands that I trust:
- Balmonds – I use their rosehip scar oil, moisturising oils, Skin Salvation and Tea Tree balm
- Lyonsleaf – My favourite is Zinc and Calendula cream and the Marshmallow emollient
- Wild Nettle Company – lovely smooth healing cream that’s great on my hands
- Caurnie Soaperie – Soothing, cooking cream
- Green People – For sun screen
- 99% Aloe Vera Gel
- Tea Tree Oil – to spot treat infections, cold sores, bits that won’t heal. Make sure you buy 100% pure, I use Naissance.
And finally, a great resource for information, inspiration and articles about skin care for allergies and sensitive skin can be found on www.skinsmatter.com.
I hope this makes you think carefully about what you’re putting on your skin, as well as into your mouth. Take care of your skin, keep in moisturised, but give it a treat every now and again too.