Featured, Skin

What Is The Validated Hypoallergenic Rating System (VH-Rating System)?Featured

“Hypoallergenic” can be an ambiguous term. It is regulated in some FDAs, but not all. When regulated, certain evidence is normally required to justify the claim but requirements can differ. Our founding dermatologist-dermatopathologist wanted a more objective, consistent, and clear way to prove what “hypoallergenic” meant in formulations.

VMV Hypoallergenics was the first to validate what it meant by “hypoallergenic” for its products with a “grading” system: the VALIDATED HYPOALLERGENIC RATING System, or VH-Rating System, created in the late 1980s (VMV was founded in 1979).

What Is The VH-Rating System?

It works a bit like an SPF in that it is a clear, immediately visible “grade” given to a formulation. While an SPF shows the product’s tested protection factor against UVB rays, the VH-Number shows how many top contact allergens are NOT in a formulation. In both cases, the higher the number, the better the “grade.”

The VH-Rating System uses published contact allergen lists of the North American Contact Dermatitis Group and European Surveillance System on Contact Allergies — based on thousands of patch tests conducted in multiple countries — as independent references.

The VH-Rating System was the first and is still the only hypoallergenic rating system in the world. A study on it published in Dermatitis, the journal of the American Contact Dermatitis Society, concludes:

“The VH Rating System is shown to objectively validated the hypoallergenics cosmetics claim.”

Verallo-Rowell VM. The validated hypoallergenic cosmetics rating system: its 30-year evolution and effect on the prevalence of cosmetic reactions. Dermatitis. 2011 Mar-Apr;22(2):80-97. PMID: 21504693.

The same study shows that VMV products had less than 0.1% reactions reported in over 30 years.

How It Works:

Check out this handy video in our YouTube Channel: Validated Hypoallergenic – The VH Rating System

Very simply, the higher the number, the more allergens are NOT in the formulation.

Every product has a VH-Rating on its label followed by a slash and the total number of current top contact allergens. The higher the VH-Rating, the more allergens are not included in the formulation.

In case an allergen is present, the VH-Rating will be lower than the total number of current top contact allergens. An asterisk will also be seen that corresponds to the allergen in the ingredient list (which will also be underlined) for quick identification.

Breaking Down the Elements

  • VH stands for Validated Hypoallergenic.
    • The product has been tested specifically for hypoallergenicity.
    • At VMV, this includes patch testing each raw material, ingredient, applicator, and final formulation.
  • -# (the minus sign followed by a number)
    • Shows how many allergens are ABSENT from the formulation.
  • /# (slash followed by a number)
    • Means “over this current total of top allergens.”
    • This shows the total count of the current top allergens.

A VH-Rating of VH-109/109 would be read as: “Validated Hypoallergenic MINUS 109 over 109.”

A rating of VH-108*/109 would be read as “Validated Hypoallergenic MINUS 108 over 109.” The asterisk alerts you to check the ingredients list for its counterpart, which would be the allergen present in the formulation.

Examples of VH-Ratings on products:

VH -109/109

The highest (current) VH-Rating: VH-109/109
  • Validated Hypoallergenic minus all 109 common allergens.

VH -108*/109

A lower VH-Rating: VH-108/109. Note the asterisk.
The asterisk from the VH-Rating corresponds to the present allergen in the Ingredients List … which is also underlined so you can’t miss it! If it’s not one of your allergens, you can still use the product.
  • Validated Hypoallergenic minus 108 of 109 allergens.
  • Allergens present in the formulation are identified with an asterisk and underlined in the ingredients list.
  • In this example, if you’re allergic to parabens, fragrance, or dyes but not to vitamin E (a great antioxidant), you can still use this oil-free moisturizer.

Need More Help?

Ask us to customize recommendations for you based on your patch test results and even possible cross reactants.

Where to get a patch test?

  • In the USA: search contactderm.org. You can search by zip code and members of the American Contact Dermatitis Society also use CAMP (the Contact Allergen Management Program) to show you not just the ingredients and substances you need to avoid but brands and products that you can use (where you’ll see VMV Hypoallergenics a lot!)
  • In the Philippines: PM VMV Skin Research Centre + Clinics, where patch testing is a specialty.
  • In other countries: ask your official dermatological society about local contact dermatitis experts who offer patch testing.

Haven’t had a patch test but have a history of very sensitive skin? Choose products with the highest VH-Rating!

Our team of “dew gooders” at VMV Hypoallergenics regularly shares “skinsider” tips! Follow us on Instagram for more of their hacks, “skintel” and tutorials!

Family Blog, Featured, Skin

What Skincare Is Safe To Use While Pregnant & Nursing?Featured

Q: I’m pregnant or am nursing. Can I still use my favorite VMV Hypoallergenics®products?

A: There are no conclusive studies that show that typical cosmetics can affect fetal or infant development. But it is understandable to be extra cautious. Every person (and baby!) is an individual so make sure to check with your obstetrician and pediatrician before following any of the following suggestions.

Best Practices:

• Most topically-applied products have a molecular size that is too large to penetrate the epidermis, much less the dermis. This makes it highly unlikely for most cosmetics to make it to your bloodstream, uterus, and fetus. Because cosmetics aren’t ingested, this makes it also unlikely for ingredients to make it to your breast milk.
• There are exceptions like topical steroids which can penetrate the dermis. If your dermatologist prescribes a topical steroids, make sure they know that you are pregnant or nursing and follow their instructions. Other products that are not recommended at all are those that contain retinoic acid and salicylic acid. This is especially true of oral medications.
• To be extra safe, at least until the 3rd trimester but ideally for the entire pregnancy, do not use skin care products with active ingredients that are not washed off quickly. Continue reading for our list of products to pause and products you can continue.
• Because hormones can cause skin to go a little nuts (dryness, acne, darkening, stretch marks, etc.) we suggest focusing on prevention: no allergens, irritants, or comedogens. We also suggest choosing formulations that are the least stressful on skin.
• When nursing, something to keep in mind regarding skincare is that, when feeding or carrying, baby’s skin comes into contact with whatever you use on your skin. If you notice redness or other irritations on baby’s skin, check your own products for allergens or irritants. The same can occur with airborne allergens like bleaches and fragrances.


This simple regimen can help address some of the more common skin concerns during pregnancy and nursing. Many of them can be shared when baby is born, too!






Products to PAUSE:

Following the suggestion to not use skincare with active ingredients that are not washed off quickly, these are the specific VMV products that we would suggest pausing during pregnancy:

Products to PROCEED WITH:

These are the specific VMV products that we can suggest continuing during pregnancy — with the guidance of your OB-GYN at all times, of course:

Additional Information on
Pregnancy/Lactation and Active Ingredients

While there are no conclusive clinical studies showing that the typical active ingredients found in cosmetics, especially at the concentrations used in most cosmetics, can (positively or negatively) affect fetal development or breast milk when applied on the skin, research is always progressing. Your OB-GYN (obstetrician-gynecologist) and pediatrician would be your best resources regarding the latest studies available and how they apply to you and your baby in particular.Some information that we can share as accurate as of this writing:
• Barring exceptions that do penetrate the dermis such as topical steroids, there are no conclusive studies showing positive or negative effects on fetal development or milk content from topically applied products.
• Historically, the active ingredients that have caused the most concern when taken internally are retinoic acid and salicylic acid, not glycolic acid, kojic acid, or mandelic acid. Retinoic acid is teratogenic (it affects growing cells, which blastocysts are). However, the concentrations used in cosmetics are so small that it is still considered unlikely that enough of it can penetrate to cause any damage. Still, retinoic acid is, by far, the active ingredient that causes the most red flags for pregnant women and it probably should be avoided altogether regardless of the concentration.
• The percentage of actives in most cosmetics is usually very low. We use concentrations that are proven to be effective, but even these concentrations are quite controlled. Many of our active toners, for example, contain about 2.5% of the active ingredient in a 120mL solution. Even if the active ingredient could penetrate the bloodstream (unlikely due to the relatively large molecular size) and make it to the fetus (even more unlikely), the percentage of the active ingredient that would get this far during each individual application is minuscule. This is because the ingredient:
…is present in low concentrations;
…is further diluted in a solution of much greater volume; and
…is applied in small amounts on the skin (and, again, because the molecular size makes penetration past the dermis unlikely).
For example: 2.5% of an active ingredient mixed in a 120mL solution of a toner means 3g of the active in the solution. Let’s assume that the toner is finished in 30 days. To estimate, dividing 3g by 30 days results in around 0.1g of the active ingredient getting to the skin per application. Because of the molecular size of the active, much of this 0.1g cannot penetrate beyond the dermis into the bloodstream, and even less could therefore possibly make it to the fetus.
This is NOT a recommendation to use active ingredients during your pregnancy — as we stated at the start of this article, we follow the safer recommendation to discontinue the use of active ingredients during pregnancy and nursing. We follow this guideline as an extra precaution because while studies are inconclusive, research is always revealing new discoveries. Avoiding active ingredients that are not immediately washed off provides an added degree of safety.
Data regarding the effects (positive or negative) of topical skin treatments on fetal or infant development at this point may be inconclusive; but for anything taken orally, you should be conscientious and always consult your doctor beforehand. You’ll be seeing your gynecologist soon and regularly, then your child’s pediatrician. These visits, more than anything, will help you best monitor your baby’s healthy development. This information should not be considered medical advice. Particularly if you have a medical condition, before you change anything in your skincare or other practices related to pregnancy or nursing, ask your doctor.

Laura is our “dew”-good CEO at VMV Hypoallergenics and eldest daughter of VMV’s founding dermatologist-dermatopathologist. She has two children, Madison and Gavin, and works at VMV with her sister CC and husband Juan Pablo (Madison and Gavin frequently volunteer their “usage testing” services). In addition to saving the world’s skin, Laura is passionate about health, inclusion, cultural theory, human rights, happiness, and spreading goodness (like a great cream!)

Featured, Skin

6 Truths About Acne That May Surprise YouFeatured

Which 5 statements about ACNE are TRUE?

Find clues in VMV Hypoallergenics’s weekly livestreams and IGTV!

  • ? Acne is an inflammation of the follicle.
  • ? Skin conditions like keratosis pilaris, pityrosporum folliculitis, ingrown hair, and others can be confused for acne.
  • ? Acne means your skin is dirty.
  • ? Oily skin is something that needs to be fixed.
  • ? Things that cause acne include pore-cloggers; substances that irritate the pore including allergens, disinfectants and PPEs; inflammatory food; poor sleep; stress; hormones; some medications, bacteria, fungi, mites, genes.
  • ? Because “Comedogens” are tested and graded consistently, you can generally trust ratings that you see on the internet.
  • ? “Comedogens” are more accurately determined by human skin tests, not Rabbit Ear Assays which are old and inconsistent.
  • ? Acne only affects teens and people with oily skin.
  • ? Because so many things can cause acne, and some skin conditions can look like acne but aren’t, you should see a dermatologist for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.
  • ? Antibiotics and other medications to manage acne are *never* necessary.
  • ? Coconut oil, stearic acid, and stearyl alcohol are not comedogenic.

 ANSWERS: ?????? are TRUE.

TRUE: ? Acne is an inflammation of the follicle.

Acne usually starts as a comedone (plugged hair follicle). Sebum production follows, then an overgrowth of a microbe in the follicle (innate bacteria, fungi, or mites), which leads to more inflammation and the formation of papules, pustules, and/or cysts.

TRUE: ? Skin conditions like keratosis pilaris, pityrosporum folliculitis, ingrown hair, and others can be confused for acne.

Many bumps and lesions can be confused for acne, which is why it’s so important to get an accurate diagnosis from a dermatologist.

TRUE: ? Things that cause acne include pore-cloggers; substances that irritate the pore including allergens, disinfectants and PPEs; inflammatory food; poor sleep; stress; hormones; some medications, bacteria, fungi, mites, genes.

Acne has LOTS of possible causes. And unless you identify it or them accurately, you might be treating the wrong thing.

TRUE: ? “Comedogens” are more accurately determined by human skin tests, not Rabbit Ear Assays which are old and inconsistent.

A surprising number of ingredients flagged as “comedogens” online aren’t because many websites use results of old, outdated, inaccurate Rabbit Ear Assays as their reference. Plus, “comedogens” only clog the hair follicle to cause comedones. “Acnegens” do the same thing AND cause irritation and inflammation. For acne prevention, you need non-comedogenic (based on newer, more accurate human controlled trials) as well as the absence of top contact irritants and allergens to prevent the irritation that eventually leads to inflammation and acne.

TRUE: ? Because so many things can cause acne, and some skin conditions can look like acne but aren’t, you should see a dermatologist for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.

Definitely. Your dermatologist will take a more complete history and possibly ask for tests or even a cross-consultation with another specialist. Because acne is inflammatory, what will help are the classic anti-inflammatory things you should be doing anyway: no junk food, lots of fresh veggies and fruit, proper sleep, and stress management. But which topical products will work for your acne, and if you need an oral medication, is best determined by your dermatologist.

TRUE: ? Coconut oil, stearic acid, and stearyl alcohol are not comedogenic.

Based on those more reliable Human Controlled Trials, none of these ingredients are comedogenic or acnegenic.
For more, check out Lots Of Comedogenic Ingredients Aren’t Actually Comedogenic, and What You Really Need To Prevent Acne.

Laura is our “dew”-good CEO at VMV Hypoallergenics and eldest daughter of VMV’s founding dermatologist-dermatopathologist. She has two children, Madison and Gavin, and works at VMV with her sister CC and husband Juan Pablo (Madison and Gavin frequently volunteer their “usage testing” services). In addition to saving the world’s skin, Laura is passionate about health, inclusion, cultural theory, human rights, happiness, and spreading goodness (like a great cream!)

Featured, Skin

Lots Of Comedogenic Ingredients Aren’t Actually Comedogenic, and What You Really Need To Prevent AcneFeatured

“Don’t use virgin coconut oil! Or stearic acid! They’re so comedogenic!”
         … are they, though?

And is “non-comedogenic” alone the one magic, major thing to prevent acne? The internet is a wonderful source of good information…but also outdated information, information without context, incomplete information, and wrong information. Comedogenicity, for example, has had a complex history with conflicting results and different testing methods. Yet many sites that list comedogenic ingredients don’t show the sources of the studies and how the studies have held up over time. And it seems that comedones are only half the story. To really help keep acne at bay, we need “hypoallergenic” and “anti-inflammatory” as much as “non-comedogenic.”
To help “unclog” some of the confusion, we asked dermatologist and dermatopathologist Dr. Vermén Verallo-Rowell to explain: what do “comedogenic” and “acnegenic” mean, and what studies should we be trusting?

What we learned…

See Dr. Verallo-Rowell’s original summary below. These are 3 of the most eye-opening things that we learned.

1. Non-comedogenic isn’t all that you need to prevent acne. Look for: non-comedogenic, no contact allergens, no irritants, and anti-inflammatory.

First, let’s clarify what’s what…
Comedones and comedogenic:
“Comedone” is the medical term for a plugged hair follicle. Hormones, other inflammatory stress triggers, as well cosmetics and skincare and/or their ingredients can form comedones. When they’re closed, they’re whiteheads. When they’re open, they’re blackheads. They might be visible or not (micro-comedone).
What clogs the follicle — the product itself and/or its ingredient(s) — is a comedogen(s).
Acne and acnegenic:
Acne is caused by inflammation. There can be many triggers, from an inflammatory diet, hormones, a medical condition, and certain drugs. A cosmetic product or its ingredients can also be a trigger — here, the product/ingredients may cause an irritant contact dermatitis that also becomes inflamed. Acne starts as a comedone (clogged hair follicle). Sebum production follows, then an overgrowth of a microbe in the follicle (innate bacteria, fungi, or mites), which leads to more inflammation and the formation of papules, pustules, and/or cysts.
What clogs the follicle but also causes irritation and possibly inflammation — the product itself and/or its ingredient(s) — is an acnegen(s).
What should I be looking for?
Comedogens (which clog the follicle) are not necessarily acnegens (which clog then irritate the follicle, and cause inflammation); and acnegens are not necessarily comedogens
A product that says “non-comedogenic” should have done tests on the ingredient and final product — and/or is relying on studies already done on the same ingredient — to prove that it does not clog pores. “Non-acnegenic” may be the better term to look for if you’re trying to prevent acne in addition to clogged pores but many FDAs prevent the use of this term for cosmetic products (both “acne” and “inflammation” are restricted to drugs). The best thing would be to look for products that:
• Say “non-comedogenic”;
• Have zero of the top contact allergens and irritants; and
• Are anti-inflammatory.
Remember that comedogens clog pores. Acnegens both clogs pores and cause irritation and inflammation. A non-comedogenic product with anti-inflammatories and without allergens or irritants should fit the bill. Just make sure that the brand relies on Human Controlled Use Tests or similar studies on people to determine comedogenicity and/or acnegenicity because…

2. Most of the studies used to determine “comedogenicity” are old and inconsistent or inaccurate.

Part of the confusion lies in that the most commonly cited studies for comedogenicity are old, done on rabbit ears (Rabbit Ear Assays; “REA”), and are less reliable. Just ten years after some of the earliest studies that were considered the gold standard for comedogenicity, the same team of doctors, using a human skin model in lieu of the Rabbit Ear Assay, saw that the results of their initial animal (and later human) studies were incongruent.
To try to resolve the difference, in 1989, the American Academy of Dermatology held the Symposium on Comedogenicity to standardize testing methods. To clarify findings, especially if positive in REAs, it was recommended that “the product should be adequately tested in humans before general use.” Results from tests on humans were considered the defining results.
The next wave of influential studies began in 2006 with Draelos et al. One study concluded that finished cosmetics with ingredients shown to be comedogenic in Rabbit Ear Assays are not necessarily comedogenic when tested on human skin. More recent studies use updated methodology that measure oil production and tackle inflammatory follicular targets. These seem to more accurately identity what ingredients or products are comedogenic and acnegenic.
Draelos’s results, the results from tests on human skin, as well as newer methodologies are what we use in our research center and when formulating VMV Hypoallergenics products.
The newer methodologies have many advantages: they are more accurate, they don’t need bunnies, they are easy to perform on more subjects for greater statistical significance, and they can be done with more types of ingredients, finished products, and other materials. Importantly, unlike REAs which were incongruent themselves and incongruent when compared to human tests, these newer methods are more consistent and are accurately reproducible. And, in case you were wondering, these show virgin coconut oil as not comedogenic. Virgin coconut oil is also not acnegenic.

3. What is causing your acne may not be what you think.

The easiest thing to blame is the last product you used or a new product you’re trying. But acne (especially adult acne) is multi-factorial: it can have many possible causes. Some causes include certain cosmetic products, and using too many cosmetic products, but also hormones, certain medical conditions, disinfectants, some medication, lack of sleep, halogens (fluoride, chloride, iodide, etc.), and inflammatory food (red meats and byproducts, highly processed foods, junk food, too much carbs and dairy, “white” food like white rice and bread, pre-packaged drinks, vegetable oils, etc.).
A product that produces a reaction quickly might be acnegenic: it clogs the pore but also causes irritation (remember, acne in this case is actually a type of irritant contact dermatitis of the follicle) and inflammation. On the other hand, a product that is comedogenic would take time (sometimes weeks) to show a reaction because more applications are needed for the erring ingredient/s to build up and cause clogging.
If you’re convinced that a product that you used is the problem because you noticed new acne soon after using it, maybe the product is acnegenic: it contains both comedogens but also allergens and irritants that have irritated the pore and caused inflammation. If the lesions developed over time, it might be due to the comedogens in your most recent product or in your other products that have had enough time to build up and clog your pores. Or it could be a change in lifestyle (more stress, lack of sleep, worse food), new medication, a development in hormones, or even a condition that just looks like acne but isn’t. This is why your best bet is to see a dermatologist for a comprehensive history, tests, and a proper diagnosis.
For guidance, a lot of people search online and stumble upon “comedogenicity tables” on acne websites. Most of the tables are adapted from the Kligman Rabbit Ear Assay studies and Fulton collation of these studies. As a review of medical literature shows that these are incongruent at best: what is consistent is the inconsistency of results between Rabbit Ear Assays and human skin studies.
This well established incongruence between REAs and human studies, along with the difficulty in reproducing the results of REAs, led to the official AAD Symposium Consensus Statement saying that human skin tests are the determining results. We therefore rely on human skin tests with newer methodologies (like Human Controlled Use Tests) and not on older Rabbit Ear Assays that have been proven wrong or proven to be difficult to reproduce with the same results.

Summary by Vermén M. Verallo-Rowell, MD, FPDS, FAAD, FASDP, FADA

The concept of acnegenic and comedogenic to describe ingredients individually, and in skin care and cosmetic products, has been based on animal and human test protocols. The results are varied and standards not well defined for manufacturers or by regulatory bodies. Hence the confusion for the users of these products and the meaning and use of these terms. 
Acnegenic products induce comedones plus inflamed papules, pustules, and cysts. The cause of acnegenicity is follicular irritation. It is a variant of irritant contact dermatitis with a more pronounced follicular component. As such, acne lesions appear quite quickly after application, while comedones may take weeks to develop. Therefore, comedogenic substances are not necessarily acnegenic, and the reverse is also true.(1)
Comedogenicity is the potential of a cosmetic or of its components to form acne-like plugged hair follicles that, when closed, are called whiteheads and, when open, are called blackheads. The medical term for both is a comedone. Chloracne, a form of comedonal acne was first seen among factory workers through the 1940s. Using the Rabbit Ear Assay (REA), chloracne was shown to be due to chlorinated hydrocarbons.(2) Kligman in 1970 used the REA to rate the comedogenicity of human sebum on a scale of 0 (no potential) to 3 (severe potential).(3) In 1972 Kligman and Mills next linked REA comedogenicity ratings of human sebum and cosmetic ingredients to low-grade acne which they called “cosmetic acne” in the cheeks of 22-25 year old post-adolescent young women.(4) 
Ten years later, Mills and Kligman continued to do comedogenicity studies on the same chemicals, but used a human skin model in lieu of the rabbit ear. Surprisingly, the results of their initial animal, and later human, studies were incongruent.(5)
To try to resolve the difference, the American Academy of Dermatology in 1989 held the Symposium on Comedogenicity to standardize testing methods. They came up with the following consensus statement: “If the animal model does not show evidence of comedogenesis, the test material under consideration is unlikely to be comedogenic in human skin. One plus (+) positive reactions are also unlikely to cause reactions in humans. Two (++) or three (+++) responses require sound scientific judgment. Reformulation should be considered, or the product should be adequately tested in humans before general use.”(6)
These findings lead to a study in 2006 by Draelos on six individuals with prominent follicular orifices and the ability to form comedones on the upper aspect of the back which served as the test sites. Using the technique of Marks and Dawber, 0.2 to 0.5 mL of 7 cosmetics with at least 2 ingredients reported to be comedogenic in the REA assays, a positive, and a negative control were applied, kept covered for 48 hours, opened, and re-applied 3 times weekly for 4 weeks. Cyanoacrylate follicular biopsies at baseline and at the end of the study counted the ratio of follicles to microcomedones per square inch. Like Kligman, Draelos’ results were likewise “incongruous”. The study concludes that finished cosmetics with ingredients shown to be comedogenic in rabbit ear testing, are not necessarily comedogenic when tested on human skin.(7)
In recent years, dermatologists have noted the rise of cases of adult acne defined as acne in men or women 25 years and older. Unlike adolescent acne which occurs from hormonal surges in adolescence(8), adult acne is multifactorial. The factors include hormones from stress-related fluctuating hormones of fast-paced modern lifestyles; polycystic ovarian syndrome; and discontinuing birth control pills. Commonly used drugs and chemicals such as antidepressants, cough medicines, corticosteroids including those in inhalers; pollutants like particulates, chlorines and dioxins in our environment, and in our food and drinks are others. Lastly, the increasing number of chemicals in cosmetics and cosmeceuticals are frequent suspect causes.(9,10) Quality of life among adolescents to adults with acne have been shown to be as serious as in those with diseases considered to be dire such as CVD, diabetes, and cancer.(11-13)
More recent studies are now used to characterize sebum production, and inflammatory follicular targets that may be useful to more accurately characterize what ingredients or products are indeed comedogenic and acnegenic.(14,15 ) 
A study by Catambay, Villanueva and Verallo-Rowell in 2016 modified the Draelos human comedogenicity assay (DHSA). The study again proved that although there were some similarities of REA and DHSA ratings in 3 oils, the 5 others had different readings. Similar were DHSA (and REA) – comedogenic Olive and Almond; DHSA (and REA) – non-comedogenic Castor. Dissimilar were DHSA non-comedogenic Coconut, Avocado and Grapeseed (REA comedogenic); DHSA non-comedogenic sunflower and safflower (REA mildly comedogenic) oils. Notable is coconut which, despite years of being listed as comedogenic (in REA ratings), was shown  non-comedogenic by DHSA, Table 1. This confirms what has been seen in clinics where VCO, for regular application not just on the face, but also all over the body, is a non-comedogenic moisturizer and antiseptic oil. The study utilized a new methodology with many advantages: accurately reproducible, easy to perform, cost effective, can be done on a larger number of test materials (ingredients, finished products), on a bigger subject size for greater statistical significance of results, and “no animal testing” for cosmetic ingredients and cosmetic products.(17) 
Consumers tend to immediately blame cosmetics for their adult acne and look for self-help guidance to the comedogenicity tables found in the internet (acne websites) or even in dermatology literature. Most of the tables are adapted from the Kligman (0-3) ratings and Fulton who collated the REA studies and rated comedogenicity and also irritancy as (0 to 5). All are based on REA assays.


  1. Draelos ZD. Atlas of Cosmetic Dermatology. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Churchill Livingstone, 2000, pp. 25-29. 
  2. Moses M, Lilis R, Crow KD, et al. (1984). Health status of workers with past exposure to 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin in the manufacture of 2,4,5-trichlorophenoxyacetic acid: comparison of findings with and without chloracne. Am. J. Ind. Med. 5 (3): 161–82. doi:10.1002/ajim.4700050303. PMID   6142642
  3. Kligman A.M., Wheatley V.R., Mills O.H. Comedogenicity of Human Sebum. Arch Dermatol 1970 Sep;102(3):267-75.PMID: 4247928
  4. Kligman AM, Mills OH. Acne cosmetica. Arch Dermatol. 1972;106:893-897
  5. Mills OH, Kligman AM. Human model for assessing comedogenic substances. Arch Dermatol. 1982;116:903-905.
  6. Consensus Statement, American Academy of Dermatology Invitational Symposium on Comedogenicity. J Am Acad Dermatol. 1989;20:272-277.
  7. Draelos ZD, DiNardo JC. A re-evaluation of the comedogenicity concept. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2006;54:507-512.
  8. Smithard A, Glazebrook C, Williams HC. Acne prevalence, knowledge about acne and psychological morbidity in mid-adolescence: a community-based study. Br J Dermatol. 2001;145:274-279.
  9. H. P. M. Gollnick H.,P.,M. Review: From new findings in acne pathogenesis to new approaches in treatment. 07 June 2015 https://doi.org/10.1111/jdv.13186
  10. Verallo-Rowell V.M. Chapter 7. Role of diet and environment in skin ageing. In:Ageing and Longevity Medical Webinars Handbook. Genuino RF, Genjuino LS, Arquiza MC, eds.Manila, Philippines: Mu Sigma PhiSoririty Inc. June 2020.  
  11. Barnes, LE, Levender,MM, Fleischer Jr, AB, Feldman, S.R. Review Quality of Life Measures for Acne Patients. Dermatol Clin 2012 Apr;30(2):293-300, ix. doi: 10.1016/j.det.2011.11.001
  12. Mallon E, Newton JN, Klassen A, Stewart-Brown SL, Ryan TJ, Finlay AY. The quality of life in acne: a comparison with general medical conditions using generic questionnaires. Br J Dermatol. 1999;140:672-676.
  13. Lasek RJ, Chren MM. Acne vulgaris and the quality of life of adult dermatology patients. Arch Dermatol. 1998;134:454-458. 
  14. Campos P.,M.,B.,G.,  Melo, M.,O.,Mercurio, D.,G. Use of Advanced Imaging Techniques for the Characterization of Oily Skin. 2019 Mar 26;10:254. doi: 10.3389/fphys.2019.00254. eCollection 2019.
  15. Yoon JY, Kwon HH, Min SU, et al. Epigallocatechin-3-gallate improves acne in humans by modulating intracellular molecular targets and inhibiting P. acnes. J Invest Dermatol. 2013;133:429-440.
  16. M. Jackson Edward, F. M. T. Robillard Norman The controlled use test in a cosmetic product safety substantiation program.September 2008Cutaneous and Ocular Toxicology 1(2):117-132OI: 10.3109/15569528209051517
  17. Catambay N., Villanueva J., Verallo-Rowell VM. Comedogencity of virgin coconut (VCO) and other cosmetic oils using a modified Draelos protocol: a randomized double blind controlled trial. Poster presentation at the American Contact Dermatitis Society, 2016 Annual Meeting.
  18. Verallo-Rowell, V.M., Katalbas, S.S. & Pangasinan, J.P. Natural (Mineral, Vegetable, Coconut, Essential) Oils and Contact Dermatitis. Curr Allergy Asthma Rep 16, 51 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11882-016-0630-9
Featured, Skin, Tip of the Week

Don't Touch Your FaceFeatured

Paws Off That Fab Face.

You use your hands to touch everything…your phone, keyboard, handrails, others people’s hands, desktops and kitchen counters…everything. Transferring all those microbes to your face increases your risk of sickness and acne, and could trigger a contact dermatitis, atopic dermatitis (eczema) or allergic flare-up if you happen to have touched allergens that you’re sensitive to.
Touching your face could make it more tempting to pick at pimples, too, which can lead to further infection, more acne, and scarring.
Got a habit of resting your face on your hands or fingers while at the computer, reading, listening to a lecture or watching a movie? You may not realize that you’re pulling or pushing your skin in different directions, straining its elasticity more than usual and making your anti-aging cream work harder than it has to.
Use your hands to wash your face and apply skincare…then leave your face alone. And, keep a non-drying hand sanitizer, uh, handy at all times to lessen the chances of infection (TIP: our Id and Kid Gloves Monolaurin Gels double as pimple-fighting anti-inflammatories for “acnemergencies!”)

Featured, Skin

A Skincare Regimen Isn’t One-Size-Fits-AllFeatured

You spend time choosing your food and clothing, why not your skincare?

Like working out, it helps to know what your goals are, what you like/don’t like, and what may work best for you.
Basic skincare is fairly, well, basic: Cleanser, Toner (not if your skin is already dry), Moisturizer, Sunscreen.
But even a basic regimen improves significantly when you customize it to your skin type:

And that’s just when choosing a basic regimen!
If you have specific skin concerns, a more targeted skin care regimen may give you better results, faster, and for longer. In one of our most popular regimens for acne and acne scars, for example, we combine both acne treatments (salicylic acid and monolaurin) with pigmentation-lightening therapy and a daily, indoor-outdoor sunscreen made specifically for treated skin and opaque enough to help lighten dark spots.
Don’t be afraid to ask us for a skincare regimen targeted to your specific needs and skin goals — and even customized to your patch test results! Give us a call at (212) 217 2762, or click here to submit an inquiry, or drop us a Private Message on Facebook!
For more on how to customize your regimen and some of our most popular combined regimens, check out Combining Actives: Customize Your Skincare Regimen Like A Pro
Not sure how to apply skincare products? Check out Which Comes First, The Toner Or The Lotion? How To Apply Skincare In The Right Order

Featured, Skin

Fall "Skin" Love In 4 StepsFeatured

As the leaves turn and fall, do your own shedding and renewal:

Our post-summer skinfest begins with a royal residue-ridding to wash away summer’s big sweat soirée and flush out the greasy flotsam that strikes fear in every pore. In other words: here’s how to transition your skincare from summer to fall.
Treat yourself to some serious skin love and it won’t be just the autumn leaves looking so fine this fall!

Beauty, Healthy Living, Skin, Tip of the Week

Top 40 Skin, Makeup, Health & Happiness Tips!Featured

Pause, please. 

40 years of published and awarded research on skin, hypoallergenicity, and clinically-effective care has led us more and more to this fact: what affects the skin is far more than what is applied on it.
Science is showing just how interdependent — how linked — all aspects of our health are. The care of skin cannot be separated from what we eat, how often we exercise, underlying health conditions, and how well we sleep and manage stress.
It’s time to pause, review, and share some of the most proven ways to care for all aspects of health — skin, body, and mind.


Do I Need a Moisturizer If I Have Oily Skin?Featured


Think of healthy moisture as vitamins for your skin: essential to its health and something your skin may not produce enough of on its own.
Oily skin, like all skin, needs healthy hydration. Even oily skin can experience water loss, barrier damage, and get dry and uncomfortable…

  • …in cold, dry weather;
  • …when over-treated with too many medicines, peels, or procedures;
  • …when irritated by using products with active ingredients incorrectly;
  • …or if irritated by using products with irritants or allergens (dryness can be a sign of contact dermatitis but is often mistakenly dismissed as “dry skin”).

Look for a moisturizer that won’t clog pores or add shine, but that will prevent water loss and care for your skin’s important barrier. An oil-free formulation is a great option. If you have very oily skin, an active treatment in cream or lotion form may provide you with adequate hydration while also providing anti-acne and other benefits.


6 Steps To Turn WOE Into GLOW: There Is Hope For Desperate Skin!

Don’t give up: even the “worst” skin has hope!

We can’t tell you how many times we hear: “my skin is the worst,” or “I have the longest patch test list and can’t use anything!” You might feel like you have more allergens than any other person on the planet, or the most impossible skin problems, but it probably isn’t true. We’ve seen the longest patch test results and our doctors care for hospitalized cases: we see the worst skin cases, on a regular basis, and care for them. And even if your skin does fall into the most complex of categories, there is hope. Follow these 6 steps to begin your climb out of desperation…

1. Go to a dermatologist who specializes in your condition. 

Your doctor might be wonderful, but specialists — particularly those who regularly publish or lecture on your condition in particular — spend the most time studying and treating your problem. These hours of specialization matter. This concentrated study and experience means the deepest understanding of the condition, access to the latest research and treatments, and higher rates of success.

2. Get a patch test. 

This one, simple test can be a game changer. If you’ve had a long history of very sensitive skin, you may need an expanded patch test which can cost more up front but will save you LOTS (of money, injury, frustration, and time) compared to guessing which products to use.

3. Stop random trial and error. 

It is almost impossible to identify the exact culprit of a reaction on your own from just trial and error. The last product applied isn’t necessarily the cause of a reaction. In fact, we’ve seen several cases of people using products they were sensitive to for years without a major reaction (perhaps just dryness)…slowly getting skin to a “breaking point” where anything applied next (ironically enough, even something they’re actually NOT allergic to) can trigger a flare-up. Unless you’re a chemist and understand INCI names of cosmetic ingredients (and know cross reactants of allergens) and a contact dermatitis specialist who is updated on the medical literature on allergens, there’s just no way to win this game on your own.

4. Minimize. 

This means use products with the least amount of ingredients possible, with little to no known allergens or irritants, and use less products in general.

5. Stay positive.

It helps your skin — de-stressing has serious health benefits! Patience is required. One-pill-fixes-all-overnight is a myth even in relatively healthy skin. Jumping from doctor to doctor, and treatment to treatment, can backfire. Give your specialist and therapy a good, solid try by strictly complying with instructions (a top problem for doctors is patient compliance) for at least a few months before you consider trying something else.

6. Make sure your doctor does a thorough history. 

Everything is important. What you eat, what utensils you use when eating, what gear you use when working out or at the office, your hobbies, what you sleep on, your towels and clothing, what medications or vitamins you might be taking, your nutrition and exercise. Everything matters.

We’ve seen decades-long, steroid-dependent cases turn around from proper prevention alone. The solution to your skin woes could be far simpler than you think.

Need an informed ear? Ask us in the comments section below, contact us by email, or drop us a private message on Facebook.

For more:

To shop our selection of hypoallergenic products, visit vmvhypoallergenics.com.
On the prevalence of skin allergies, see Skin Allergies Are More Common Than Ever and One In Four Is Allergic to Common Skin Care And Cosmetic Ingredients.
To learn more about the VH-Rating System and hypoallergenicity, click here.