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atopic dermatitis

Featured, Healthy Living, Skin

Skin & Food Allergies Are Not The Same ThingFeatured

If You Can’t Eat It, You Can Probably Still Use It In A Cream.

“I’m allergic to almonds…can I use a cream with an ingredient extracted from almonds?” “I can’t eat coconuts…that means I can’t use coconut oil, right?”

If you have prick tested positive to something, it is more likely than not that you can still use it on your skin.

The main reason is that, while complex, skin and other allergies involve such different cells, systems, and modalities.

 

Quick Breakdown

There are 4 types of reactions that we tend to have. Type 1 and Type 4 are most relevant to prick tests and patch tests.

Type 1: asthma, naso-bronchial allergies, pets, dust mites, pollen, and food

  • Is IgE-mediated and involves antibodies.
  • Is what a lot of us think of when we think about an allergic reaction (the trouble breathing (anaphylaxis), puffing up, urticaria, etc.
  • While there can be some delayed responses, always something happens quickly — within 60 minutes. This reaction is very straightforward because it is IgE mediated and IgE exists in the body.
  • Food is included here but is more complicated (see below)

Type 4: contact dermatitis

  • Is non-IgE mediated and does not involve antibodies.
  • It is T-cell mediated.
  • The response is not immediate as with Type 1. It is delayed because there is more of a process. There has to be a sensitization that then triggers a reaction to occur. This can take a week to many weeks.
  • Instead of being IgE-mediated, this is T-cell mediated.

 

Food Reactions Can Be More Complicated

Food reactions include…

  • IgE-mediated: e.g. strawberries, peanuts
  • Non IgE-mediated: food protein-induced enterocolitis, which is T cell-mediated, does not happen immediately, and is usually outgrown, such as when a baby is allergic to the protein found in cow’s milk.
  • Non-allergic reaction which is metabolic: such as when you don’t have the enzyme needed to break down sugar lactose, i.e., you’re lactose intolerant).
  • Food allergies can be difficult to isolate because there can be many substances at play in one food. This is especially true for drugs. Drugs are made up of so many compounds so it is very difficult to isolate the trigger. This is why drug IgE testing is rare and very hard to distinguish. On the other hand, an allergy to a drug with skin manifestations can be patch tested.
  • Other food reactions include:
    • Adverse reaction (non-immune mediated)
    • Toxic (puffer fish toxin)
    • Conditions like Irritable Bowel Syndrome, which is not an allergy but has the same symptoms.

 

Where It Gets More Complex for Skin: Atopic Dermatitis

Atopic dermatitis is a different type of allergy with many theories still being explored. Inheritance plays a factor. One theory is regarding the presence of over-reactors — in which case, an over-reaction to food may also occur. And contact dermatitis is frequently a factor.

There is also “atopic march”: if you had eczema as child, you could be more likely to have asthma and naso-bronchial allergies as an adult.

For more on atopic dermatitis (eczema), check out What Is Eczema.

 

What To Know If You Have Skin & Food Allergies:

1. A prick test is for IgE, involves antibodies, and can be more complicated. Even if you prick test positive to shellfish, for example, your allergist needs to correlate the findings with your history to determine if you really cannot eat shellfish.

2. A patch test is very straightforward: If you patch test positive to something, contact with it will be a problem.

3. If your prick test is positive for something — unless you ALSO patch test positive to it — you can probably use it on your skin because the modalities and systems are so different. For example, if you prick test positive for almonds, the chances are very high that you can use a product on your skin with an ingredient extracted from almonds.

3. If you patch test and prick test positive to something, you need to avoid it in food and in your skin. For example, if you patch and prick test positive to nickel, you’ll react to it when touching it and if it is in your food.

 

Which Test To Get, and From Which Doctor?

For a patch test, see a dermatologist. For a prick test, see an allergist.

Some allergists do patch testing, too. But if you have a long history of stubborn skin reactions, we’d suggest seeing a dermatologist who is a contact dermatitis specialist for your patch testing. They are…specialists! They would have more patch test tray options, can really help identify what you need to avoid, and can identify other possible skin conditions that may also need to be managed. If you also have non-skin allergies, your contact dermatitis specialist can work closely with your allergist.

How to find such a doctor?

  • 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.

 

How Else VMV Hypoallergenics Can Help?

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

Otherwise, use the VH-Rating to shop safely for VMV products! Check out this helpful video on how it works.

At VMV, we make it easy to be guided by your patch test.

1) We practice allergen ommision

As our basis for what to omit, we refer to studies by independent groups of doctors who specialize in contact dermatitis, such as the North American Contact Dermatitis Group and European Surveillance System on Contact Allergies. They regularly publish top contact allergens based on thousands of patch tests done in multiple countries.

2) We do our own patch testing…

…not just of the final formulation but also of each ingredient, raw material, and applicators (and we do allergen reviews of packaging, too).

3) Our VH-Rating System shows how many of the top contact allergens are NOT in a formulation.

If an allergen is included, the VH-Rating is lower and marked by an asterisk which corresponds to the ingredients list — you’ll see the allergen clearly marked with the asterisk and underlined, too. If they’re not allergens that you patch tested positive to, you can still use the product.

The VH-Rating System has been so effective that a clinical study published in a leading contact dermatitis journal showed less than 0.1% reactions reported in over 30 years.

4) We manufacture our own products.

We can ensure that our formulations are not mixed, stored, or handled in containers used for formulations with allergens, or otherwise contaminated by allergens..


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 VMV cream!)

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!

Featured, Skin

For Sensitive Skin, Is Sticking To One Brand Really Safer or a Marketing Ploy?Featured

For Sensitive Skin, Is Sticking To One Brand Really Safer or a Marketing Ploy?

Marcie Mom from EczemaBlues.com interviews Laura, CEO of VMV Hypoallergenics, to find out more about product claims and why they’re important when choosing your skin care…particularly if you and/or your child have eczema.
Is it really not a good idea to use different brands? Or is this just a way for companies to keep customers away from the competition? 
A:  Both 🙂 Companies of course want customers to stay with them. But there are actual risks when using lots of different products from various brands, particularly if you have very sensitive skin.
I read that there is a possibility of cross reactions between different companies’ products. Is there a way for a parent to compare the ingredients and assess if there’s a high likelihood of this?
A:  That’s one of the risks, for sure. Even if you could compare ingredients, that may not be enough because while the ingredients may look the same, they may not be exactly the same.
Cross reactants require some knowledge of chemistry. You’d need to know that if you patch tested positive to propolis, you might not be able to use beeswax, for example. Or that while green tea is sometimes categorized under “botanicals,” pure green tea is not a top contact allergen.
Some ingredients contain allergens in the raw material. For example, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil is not an allergen. If you see “Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil” listed as an ingredient, however, this would not tell you if the coconut oil is pure, virgin, or organic, or if it is RBD (Refined, Bleached, Deodorized) coconut oil (which has had reports of allergies to it), or if the oil has trace amounts of fragrance present in the raw material. None of this information is required to be disclosed in the ingredients list. Only the INCI (International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients) name of the ingredient itself is required, not the breakdown of the raw material, its purity, or its quality.
Especially for products made by brands who outsource manufacturing (which many do), it would be close to impossible to find out whether the product was mixed or stored in containers shared with other formulations that contain fragrance or other allergens. Some of these allergens leave residue that can be difficult to fully remove without very strong cleaners and disinfectants…many of which contain allergens or irritants (like chlorine) themselves.
Another reason that using lots of products from different brands can be risky is just the quantity of factors to consider. When a reaction occurs, a dermatologist will ask you for a thorough history. One question that’s sure to be there is “what products are you using”? The more products you list, the harder it is to determine what is actually causing the reaction. And again, just because none of your allergens are listed in the products’ ingredients lists doesn’t mean they’re not hidden in the raw materials or get to the formulation in other ways, like mixing and storage.
We get lots of customers who ask us if they can use one of our products along with a product from another company. We always say that we can’t answer that question. I think it may be irresponsible for us to guess. We do not outsource any of our R&D, research, clinical studies, or manufacturing, so we can answer for our products and processes. We know where we source our ingredients, their raw materials, and their quality. We know how our plant is cleaned and how materials are stored. This is information that we simply would not be able to get from another company. Sticking to one brand (ours or someone else’s) at least gives you the advantage of customer support that is familiar with all the products they offer, everything that went into them, and how they were made…particularly if the brand does not outsource its manufacturing.


This article was originally published in eczemablues.com as one of a multi-part series focused on understanding and using products for sensitive skin. Inspired by her daughter Marcie who had eczema from two weeks old, Mei (aka MarcieMom) started EczemaBlues.com with the mission to turn eczema blues to bliss. In this series of interviews, MarcieMom interviews Laura, CEO of VMV Hypoallergenics, to learn more about product claims when choosing products to care for skin with eczema.

Featured, Skin

Cosmetics Ingredients: What — and How Much Of It — Is Really In a Product?Featured

Marcie Mom from EczemaBlues.com interviews Laura, CEO of VMV Hypoallergenics, to find out more about product claims and why they’re important when choosing your skin care…particularly if you or your child has eczema.

Q: Is the Ingredients List on cosmetics packaging compulsory and regulated? Does the it cover all ingredients? Or can companies pick and choose what they want to reveal?

A: In many countries, cosmetics are regulated by the local Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or an equivalent governing body. If regulated, the rule is usually that cosmetics must list all ingredients, following a specified format, and must use only the INCI (International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients) names of ingredients. A few countries do not require that ingredients be listed — in full or in part — and/or do not have requirements regarding the names used or formatting.

Q: Why is there no percentage beside each ingredient?  That way parents can compare and choose the product with the least amount of an allergen. Also, I read that if a product contains an allergen it might not trigger a reaction if its concentration is too low. I also read that some products use an exceptionally high concentration of certain irritants. How can consumers find out the concentration of an allergen or irritant in a product?

A: Concentrations are not included in part because of proprietary concerns — a company would not want its exact formulation copied and some FDAs have rules prohibiting the registration of the same formulation under different brand names. If a product is a drug, however, it usually does have to disclose percentages, but only of the active ingredients.

An easy way to get an idea of how much of an ingredient is in the formulation is to look at where it is on the ingredients list. Many regulatory bodies require that ingredients be listed from most to least.

Finally, the percentage of an irritant or allergen is relevant mostly if someone only has an irritant reaction to it. Irritant reactions do have a relationship with the concentration of the ingredient, frequency of exposure, time on the skin, etc. For example, you could be using an allergen most of your life and not really react to it or just have mild irritant reactions like dryness. But if you are allergic to a substance or develop an allergy to it, any percentage of it for any amount of time on the skin will cause a reaction. Which is another reason why a patch test is so important.


This article was originally published in eczemablues.com as one of a multi-part series focused on understanding and using products for sensitive skinInspired by her daughter Marcie who had eczema from two weeks old, Mei (aka MarcieMom) started EczemaBlues.com with the mission to turn eczema blues to bliss. In this series of interviews, MarcieMom interviews Laura, CEO of VMV Hypoallergenics, to learn more about product claims when choosing products to care for skin with eczema.

Allergen, Not An Allergen, Featured, Skin

ALCOHOL: Allergen or Not An Allergen?Featured

ALCOHOL: Allergen or Not An Allergen?

Not An Allergen.

This is a little tricky but let’s break it down: the most common alcohol (isopropyl, ethyl) used for disinfection is an irritant — and it is certainly drying —but it is not a common contact allergen. For more on the difference between irritant and allergic reactions, see It’s Complicated: Allergic Versus Irritant Reaction.

Complicating things somewhat: not all alcohols in skincare are liquids that dry out the skin. “Alcohol” is a categorization of a substance based on its atoms. There are many alcohols that aren’t drying, and many aren’t even liquid. Some alcohols that we don’t think of as alcohols are sperm oil, jojoba, rapeseed, mustard, and tallow. Some alcohols are beneficial (moisturizing!) to skin, like those from coconut and palm oils. Most alcohols are waxes (and waxes aren’t drying) from plants and beeswax. Lanolin, a fatty substance from sheep’s wool, is an allergen — far from being drying, lanolin is a common base in ointments. Allergen alcohols include benzyl alcohol and cinnamic alcohol.

For isopropyl and ethyl alcohol, its percentage in a product makes a difference. The higher the concentration, the more drying on the skin. Most astringents that are drying contain 85-90% alcohol (VMV Hypoallergenics Toners and Id Monolaurin Gel contain between 25% and 56%). In many countries, hand sanitizers must contain at least 70% alcohol. Because the antimicrobial action of our Kid Gloves Hand Sanitizer is primarily provided by monolaurin — which, along with virgin coconut oil, studies since the 1970s have shown to be as effective an antiviral and antimicrobial as 85% alcohol — we can limit its alcohol content to 38% (which is why it’s less drying than most hand sanitizers).

One more thing to consider: many alcohols used for disinfecting add moisturizers (to try to reduce the drying action on skin) and/or fragrances (to try to mask the inherent odor of alcohol). Some of these ingredients may be allergens and could actually cause more dryness or other skin reactions.

If you have a history of sensitive skin, don’t guess: random trial and error can cause more damage. Ask your dermatologist about a patch test.

To shop our selection of hypoallergenic products, visit vmvhypoallergenics.com. Need help? Ask us in the comments section below, or for more privacy (such as when asking us to customize recommendations for you based on your patch test results) contact us by email, or drop us a private message on Facebook.

For more:

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.

Main References: 

Regularly published reports on the most common allergens by the North American Contact Dermatitis Group and European Surveillance System on Contact Allergies (based on over 28,000 patch test results, combined), plus other studies. Remember, we are all individuals — just because an ingredient is not on the most common allergen lists does not mean you cannot be sensitive to it, or that it will not become an allergen. These references, being based on so many patch test results, are a good basis but it is always best to get a patch test yourself.

1. Warshaw, E.M., Maibach, H.I., Taylor, J.S., et al. North American contact dermatitis group patch test results: 2011-2012. Dermatitis. 2015; 26: 49-59
2. W Uter et al. The European Baseline Series in 10 European Countries, 2005/2006–Results of the European Surveillance System on Contact Allergies (ESSCA). Contact Dermatitis 61 (1), 31-38.7 2009
3. Wetter, DA et al. Results of patch testing to personal care product allergens in a standard series and a supplemental cosmetic series: An analysis of 945 patients from the Mayo Clinic Contact Dermatitis Group, 2000-2007. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2010 Nov;63(5):789-98.
4. Verallo-Rowell VM. The validated hypoallergenic cosmetics rating system: its 30-year evolution and effect on the prevalence of cosmetic reactions. Dermatitis 2011 Apr; 22(2):80-97
5. Ruby Pawankar et al. World Health Organization. White Book on Allergy 2011-2012 Executive Summary.
6. Misery L et al. Sensitive skin in the American population: prevalence, clinical data, and role of the dermatologist. Int J Dermatol. 2011 Aug;50(8):961-7.
7. Warshaw EM1, Maibach HI, Taylor JS, Sasseville D, DeKoven JG, Zirwas MJ, Fransway AF, Mathias CG, Zug KA, DeLeo VA, Fowler JF Jr, Marks JG, Pratt MD, Storrs FJ, Belsito DV. North American contact dermatitis group patch test results: 2011-2012.Dermatitis. 2015 Jan-Feb;26(1):49-59.
8. Warshaw, E et al. Allergic patch test reactions associated with cosmetics: Retrospective analysis of cross-sectional data from the North American Contact Dermatitis Group, 2001-2004. J AmAcadDermatol 2009;60:23-38. 
9. Foliaki S et al. Antibiotic use in infancy and symptoms of asthma, rhinoconjunctivitis, and eczema in children 6 and 7 years old: International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood Phase III. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2009 Nov;124(5):982-9.
10. Kei EF et al. Role of the gut microbiota in defining human health. Expert Rev Anti Infect Ther. 2010 Apr; 8(4): 435–454.
11. Thavagnanam S et al. A meta-analysis of the association between Caesarean section and childhood asthma. Clin Exp Allergy. 2008;38(4):629–633.

12. Marks JG, Belsito DV, DeLeo VA, et al. North American Contact Dermatitis Group patch-test results, 1998 to 2000. Am J Contact Dermat. 2003;14(2):59-62.
13. Warshaw EM, Belsito DV, Taylor JS, et al. North American Contact Dermatitis Group patch test results: 2009 to 2010. Dermatitis. 2013;24(2):50-99.
14. Wetter DA, Yiannias JA, Prakash AV, Davis MD, Farmer SA, el-Azhary RA, et al. Results of patch testing to personal care product allergens in a standard series and a supplemental cosmetic series: an analysis of 945 patients from the Mayo Clinic Contact Dermatitis Group, 2000-2007. J Am Acad Dermatologist 2010;63:789-798
15. Swinnen I, Goossens A. Allergic contact dermatitis caused by ascorbic tetraisopalmitate. Contact Dermatitis 2011;64:241-242
16. Belhadjali H, Giordano-Labadie F, Bazex J. Contact dermatitis from vitamin C in a cosmetic anti-aging cream. Contact Dermatitis 2001;45:317
17. de Groot, A. Monographs in Contact Allergy: Non-Fragrance Allergens in Cosmetics (Parts 1 and 2). Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press; 2018. 
Want more great information on contact dermatitis? Check out the American Contact Dermatitis SocietyDermnet New Zealand, and your country’s contact dermatitis association.


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, 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

What Does "Suitable For Children" or "For Eczema" Mean In Skincare?Featured

Marcie Mom from EczemaBlues.com interviews Laura, CEO of VMV Hypoallergenics, to find out more about product claims and why they’re important when choosing your skin care…particularly if you or your child has eczema.

Understanding Baby Skin and Eczema

Q: “Suitable for Children with Eczema.” These are the most important words for a parent looking for products for their child with eczema. When a product is labeled (and prominently so) as specifically for the use of infants with eczema, we feel so much surer. Can you explain to us what “suitable for infants” and “suitable for eczema” really mean, and if there is a regulatory body that governs the use of these terms on product packaging?

A: It’s totally understandable that seeing that claim on a package would make a parent feel more at ease about choosing the product for their child. They’re not regulated terms, however. What might help is knowing a little bit more about baby skin.

Baby skin is formed and functioning from a very young age: neonatal and even younger — in utero by the end of the 1st trimester. But during the first few months of life, immunological functions are still undeveloped. For example, atopic dermatitis (aka eczema) is not often seen until after the 3rd month of life because it is an allergic disease that needs immune-forming cells to make IgE immunoglobulin. Because infant skin is newer to the world, building up its defenses, and as the surface area of skin is greater in babies (they absorb anything topically applied more than adults), baby skin care should be very safe yet still protect against micro-organisms.

At VMV Hypoallergenics, when we claim that a formulation can be used on young skin, this means that the product takes into account baby skin’s newness and absorption, and is as safe as we can make it. It would, for instance, contain zero (or close to zero) of all common contact allergens. It would also not contain other ingredients that elicit irritant responses or that have other safety issues. We would also include baby skin-compatible ingredients like a very safe, broad-spectrum (and non-drug) coconut-derived antimicrobial and organic virgin coconut oil. Monolaurin is present in breast milk and virgin coconut oil is sometimes used as an additive to some infant supplements.

In terms of something being “suitable for eczema,” it helps to first know what eczema is, which is atopic dermatitis. I left the more detailed definition to my mother, Dr. Verallo-Rowell, as this is her forte and I believe you and your readers would appreciate a doctor’s definition:

“Eczema is actually a more generalized term for any skin eruption characterized by edema (swelling) within the epidermis and dermis clinically seen as tiny itchy bubbles that ooze and become little bubbles or vesicles, even blisters. Then, exposed to the air, they dry up and become crusts. With chronicity, this wet phase may not be as obvious, and becomes replaced more by dry, thickened, very itchy patches and plaques. Atopic dermatitis is the prototype example of this process but it may be seen in other conditions such as allergic and irritant contact or photocontact dermatitis, eczematous drug eruption, and secondary reactions to a primary diagnosis.”

Because “eczema” is such a general term, a specific diagnosis can be a powerful tool towards consistent and sustained management. A specific diagnosis usually also comes with an identification of the possible triggers for an individual’s flare-ups. Children can be patch tested but not infants. The alternative is frequent and controlled observation of what seems to cause eruptions and to practice strict prevention. This is also why it is so important to use few products…so it’s easier to observe what the trigger/s might be.

The many conditions that can fall under the mantle “eczema” all benefit from the same ultra safety that we would do for hypoallergenic baby products, i.e. ZERO of all known allergens, etc. plus the inclusion of a very safe antibacterial-antiviral-antifungal in all formulations. Why? With eczema, when the skin develops fissures or cracks, this becomes welcoming to opportunistic microorganisms to enter the skin, which can lead to or exacerbate itching and further dryness…which can lead to more cracks (which can lead to more infection) and more scratching (which can spread infection)…more risk of microorganisms, etc. in a vicious cycle. This is why we put the skin-safe but powerful antibacterial-antiviral-antifungal-anti-inflammatory (monolaurin) in all these products.

More information can be found in “What Is Eczema” and My Baby Has Eczema has excellent tips for babies in particular, including a great daily care regimen!


This article was originally published in eczemablues.com as one of a multi-part series focused on understanding and using products for sensitive skinInspired by her daughter Marcie who had eczema from two weeks old, Mei (aka MarcieMom) started EczemaBlues.com with the mission to turn eczema blues to bliss. In this series of interviews, MarcieMom interviews Laura, CEO of VMV Hypoallergenics, to learn more about product claims when choosing products to care for skin with eczema.

Skin

How To Choose The Right MoisturizerFeatured

a) What are your skin concerns? b) Choose your moisturizer.

Why moisturize?
Moisturizer locks in water to keep your skin’s barrier layer strong and soft. Moisturizing creams can also be great vehicles for more active treatments.

How to Choose:

Simplest Selection: By Skin Type…
The easiest way to choose a moisturizer is to go by skin type. Our SuperSkin Care moisturizers are formulated to provide drier skin with more intensive humectants, oilier skin with oil-free hydration, and combination skin with targeted care (more moisture in drier areas and less in oilier areas, for a moisture-balanced result). If your skin is generally more dry, try Creammmy-Rich Intensive Moisture Milk. For oily skin, try Spring Fresh Oil-Free Nourisher. For Combination Skin, try Hydra Balance Smart Moisturizer..
Treat & Nourish: 
Because moisturizers spread well and sit on the skin for a long time, and tend to be absorbed well, they are great ways to hit two birds with one stone: moisturization plus active therapy. Id Anti-Acne Oil-Free Lotion is a unique, non-drying option for acne-prone skin, and can be used on face and body. For anti-aging, use Re-Everything Creams. To help lighten dark spots and melasma, try Illuminants+ Creams.
TIP: These active treatment moisturizers need a slow increase in application frequency, starting only once or twice a week, and slowly moving up until you achieve 2x-a-day applications (around week 8 of therapy). When gradually increasing application frequency, use interim moisturizers such as Spring Fresh Oil-Free Nourisher, Re-Everything Face-Hand-Body Lotion, or Illuminants+ Face-Hand-Body Lotion.
Very Sensitive Skin: 
For skin that is allergic, atopic, or with certain barrier-compromised or inflammatory conditions such as rosacea and psoriasis, moisturizers that specifically strengthen the skin’s barrier layer, that have fatty acids native to skin, and that are anti-inflammatory (and, obviously, that are allergen-free) can be valuable at managing the condition, soothing the skin, increasing comfort, and preventing flare-ups. For eczema and rosacea, a moisturizer with antimicrobials that target the microorganisms common to these skin conditions is also helpful. For rosacea, try Red Better Daily Therapy Moisturizer. For all other sensitive skin conditions, we recommend Know-It-Oil, organic virgin coconut oil or Oil’s Well Nurturing Do-It-Oil.
Aftershave: 
If you think shaving is a pain…or about the only skincare you’ll ever be into (besides sunscreen, we hope!), make your aftershave pull double duty with 1635 Aftershave Salve. It’s deeply hydrating (so you get the moisturizing requirements so important to your skin’s health) but it also helps soothe angry, irritation-prone, sensitive skin, and razor burn. It’s non-comedogenic, too, so you needn’t worry about acne.
Hand & Body: 
Your skin is your body’s largest organ — don’t stop caring for it at your face! Try Re-Everything Face-Hand-Body Lotion or Illuminants+ Face-Hand-Body Lotion for active therapy on body skin. For a light, super-soft, year-round moisturizer, pick up Essence Hand + Body SmootherKnow-It-Oil, organic virgin coconut oil can also be used on the entire body.
Pregnant or Nursing? 
There are currently no studies conclusively showing that topically-applied cosmetics, particularly with the concentrations of ingredients they usually use, can penetrate the dermis, get to the bloodstream and affect the fetus or breast milk. Still, to be extra cautious, the rule of thumb is to avoid products with active ingredients that are not quickly washed off, and to avoid certain actives altogether.
What we can recommend: Grandma Minnie’s Mommycoddling All-Over Lotion or Oil’s Well Nurturing Do-It-Oil. Both contain monolaurin (naturally found in breast milk) to help you combat acne and infections while caring for baby. And, awesomely, both can be shared with baby after she or he is born!
 
SUNSCREEN? 
Finally, a little-known tip. Many newer sunscreen formulations contain healthy humectants, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatories. If you just can’t bring yourself to add another step to your skincare regimen, choose sunscreen!
 
For more on how to apply skincare, check out: Which Comes First, The Toner Or The Lotion? How To Apply Skincare In The Right Order
For more of our most popular combined regimens, check out: Combining Actives: Customize Your Skincare Regimen Like A Pro

Healthy Living, Skin

Less Is More In Skincare, Too!Featured

Less Is More In Skincare, Too!

SIMPLIFY.

“Less is more” is a healthy philosophy for pretty much everything in life.
In food, less processed means more nutrients and less junk. Studies show that mindfulness — clearing the mind of clutter and focusing on the now — has significant health benefits for the brain and aging. In skincare, simple formulations with as few ingredients as possible minimize the risk of cross reactions — it’s a golden rule of hypoallergenicity. Plus, sticking to fewer products from fewer brands means there’s less guesswork involved when identifying what could be causing a reaction or acne.
“Less is more” helps doctors more easily identify what could be the cause of a problem. Frequently, the first step of allergy or contact dermatitis management (often, along with a patch test) is an “elimination diet” (our popular, ultra-reliable 7-Day Skin Fast). In the Skin Fast, you’re asked to stop using all products — except a very, very controlled few — for 7 days. This helps skin return to its most non-irritated state, so that when new products are slowly introduced (one every three days or so), problem products can be more accurately isolated.
The same applies to acne: acne can have several causes and certain types of acne can take days to develop…making it almost impossible to accurately identify which product is causing the acne when using many different ones.
Having fewer ingredients in a formulation is a best practice in hypoallergenicity…so much so that one of the quickest ways to spot a high-risk product is to look at how many ingredients it has: the longer the list, the higher the likelihood of reactions.
In addition, using multiple products can lead to over-treatment and drying of the skin…getting it to a borderline-irritated state so that anything new applied (whether or not you are actually allergic to it) could trigger a reaction.
This is why doctors tend to recommend sticking to few products and, ideally, from the same brand. It is impossible to ensure how products are made from one brand to another, ingredients can have different raw materials (some pure, some with additives such as trace amounts of preservatives or allergens), and many formulations are outsourced to third-party manufacturing facilities where vats can be used for mixing many different formulations, including those with allergens. Check out Why Sticking to One Brand Is Safer (an interview with EczemaBlues.com) for more on why using products from different brands can make the management of complex skin conditions difficult.

For more on hypoallergenicity and how less is more, check out:

HYPOALLERGENIC: What is it Really?
Why Sticking to One Brand Is Safer

For more on reactions:

Reactions: About, Allergic, Irritant, Sudden, Prevention, Using VMV & Other Products, etc.
Mythfoliation: If I Get a Reaction, The Last Product I Applied Is The Problem