dry skin

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!)

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!)


Top Recommendations for Patients With EczemaFeatured

Eczema is characterized by inflammation, barrier defect, blistering, itching, and very dry skin. Eczematous skin can get so dry that it cracks…and then microbial infection can become an additional problem.
What to do to keep skin with eczema smooth, happy, and healthy…and steroid free? Let’s start with what not to do.

What To Avoid:

  • Harsh soaps;
  • Hot water;
  • Frequent washing;
  • Drying alcohol (not all alcohol is drying);
  • Natural remedies (without your doctor’s ok) — many natural ingredients are common contact allergens;
  • Using topical steroids every day for a prolonged period of time — this can be dangerous to your skin and cause other serious health problems;
  • NOT using topical steroids if prescribed by your doctor;
  • Not taking other prescribed medication and not following your doctor’s instructions;
  • Using products with allergens, especially perfumes, dyes, preservatives or any other allergen identified by a patch testing.
  • Your allergens in everything else: skincare, makeup, shampoo, clothing, digital equipment, plants and fruits, house cleaning products, laundry detergent, room sprays, vaping, scented candles, etc.

Best Practices:

1) Practice Strict Allergen Avoidance.

Contact dermatitis is a common cause of eczema and flare-ups, which is why patch testing is standard in the diagnosis and management of the condition. Once you know what your allergens are, you can avoid them in your skincare, makeup, shampoo, conditioner, clothing, phone cases, house cleaning products and laundry soap, and more.
For more on common allergens, check out our popular Allergen-Not An Allergen tab. For products free of all or most common contact allergens, check out VMVHypoallergenics.com. If you would like customized product recommendations based on your particular patch test results, contact us or drop us a private message on Facebook

2) Less Is More, and Hypoallergenic Is Best.

The fewer products the better, and hypoallergenic products — without the top allergens as published by dermatologists who do lots of patch testing — are the safest options.

3) Your Dermatologist Is A Long-Term Partner, Not A Fling.

Your skin, as with all other organs, changes over time. If your eczema is being managed well, schedule an appointment with your doctor once or twice a year for a general checkup. Your patch test might need to be repeated because you may have developed new allergies (or outgrown others). And of course, follow your doctor’s instructions for flare-ups.

4) PRAM: Prevent, Repair, Antimicrobial, Moisture.

Normalizing eczema means babying your skin:

  • Avoid your allergens as strictly as possible.
  • Use very gentle cleansers, soaps, lotion…everything. Think “gentle” in terms of textures, too: no rough or abrasive fabrics or materials.
  • Look for products that are validated as hypoallergenic and that contain as few ingredients as possible.
  • Prevent flare-ups before they can even start by being consistent about your daily care and trying a steroid-free soothing balm or anti-inflammatory balm if you feel that there is a risk of a flare.


  • The skin’s barrier layer becomes compromised in eczematous skin. Look for moisturizers that provide barrier repair like virgin coconut oil.
  • “Repair” here also means: quickly and properly address a flareup should an emergency happen. Your doctor may prescribe a topical steroid for a short amount of time. Immune-modulating and other anti-allergy drugs may be called for if the eczema is generalized or recurrent despite strict allergen avoidance. Antihistamines or centrally-acting medicines can help relieve severe itching.
  • Part of repair is normalizing skin quickly after a flare. Early on, apply virgin coconut oil (VCO) to soften the crust as it forms (the crust makes the skin dry, hard and itchy). Keep applying the oil for occlusion, giving skin a secondary barrier against water loss.

Opportunistic bacteria and viruses can enter microscopic cracks in very dry skin to cause a secondary infection. This makes the management of eczema more difficult, and can make itching and dryness worse. Remember that some antimicrobials are allergens, too, so use a non-allergenic option like monolaurin) or ask your doctor for guidance as prescription drugs may be needed for a secondary infection.
Avoid drying ingredients in skincare and be generous about applying occlusive, healthy moisturizers. It’s so important that layering moisturizers for extra protection is often recommended: follow a daily moisturizer with virgin coconut oil (VCO replaces the fatty acids that make up the skin’s cell walls which are destroyed with inflammation).

How To Care For Skin With Eczema

Based on what we know about eczema, we recommend this daily regimen:

  1. FACIAL CLEANSING: Red Better Deeply Soothing Cleansing Cream
  3. CONDITIONER: Essence Skin-Saving Conditioner
  5. FOR CRUSTS OR VERY DRY PATCHES: Grandma Minnie’s The Big, Brave Boo-Boo Balm
  6. FLARE-UP PREVENTION: steroid-free Red Better Calm-The-Heck-Down Balm
  7. SUN & LIGHT PROTECTION, BARRIER PROTECTION: (physical sunscreens that double as a barrier cream to help prevent contact irritations)


Check out the other posts in this series:

What Is Eczema?
What Causes Eczema?
Eczema Flare-Up? Here’s What To Do…

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!)


How Is "pH" A "Thing" In Skincare, And Can It Help Eczema?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 have eczema.


Q: Is pH important in skincare for eczema? What does it mean if something says that it is “pH-balanced?”
A: pH-balanced is an interesting term because it could mean a completely neutral pH, which may or may not be ideal for a formulation. It is not a regulated term but a product’s pH is an important consideration for dry skin, skin with eczema, and skin undergoing active treatments.
The skin’s natural pH is actually slightly more acidic (5.5-6.5) than neutral (which is 7). Bar soaps, because of the way they are made, intrinsically tend to have a more basic or higher pH (some going as high as 10). This can, on its own, be quite denaturing and very drying to skin. Importantly, high-pH soaps and products can impair the skin’s barrier function further, which is the last thing you want for eczema.
Most of our products for very dry, sensitive, atopic skin skew towards the skin’s natural pH as much as possible, or even slightly lower.

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.


Are "Non-Drying" Products Important If I Have Eczema?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 have eczema.


Q: What does “Non-Drying” mean, and is it important in products for the management of eczema?
A: Non-drying should mean just that: will not dry out the skin. This is important in the management of eczema because the skin’s barrier function is already compromised. As well, the skin can develop fissures or small cracks through which microorganisms can enter, potentially causing infections. This is more of a risk the drier the skin.
In addition to making sure those with compromised skin know that our products with this claim will not further dry out their skin, “non-drying” alerts our customers to the fact that skin dryness can be indicative of a mild allergic or irritant reaction. Without irritants or allergens, and with non-drying formulations, we lessen this risk.
Something else to consider: non-comedogenic products sometimes include ingredients that do dry out the skin on purpose. Our products are both non-comedogenic and non-drying. Because some people with dry skin can experience acne, we feel it’s important that we specify this.
A bit of an aside: “non-drying” products can sometimes contain soothing hydrators and emollients that double as anti-inflammatories. Many skin conditions — like psoriasis, eczema, acne, and aging — are caused by, worsened by, or related to inflammation. The more a product can help reduce inflammation the better. Also, the less inflammation that your skin has to counter, the stronger your skin is, and the better able it is (on its own) to ward off infection, reactions, and other problems!

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.

Family Blog, Skin

Gentle (Beneficial!) Shaving: The Skin-Saving Shave

Skin-Saving Shaving

VMV’s literal dad (husband to our founding dermatopathologist, my mother) loved to shave. It was his time for quiet contemplation and self tending. Yet it took a while for shaving to catch on at VMV because my side of the family, being Filipino and without a rich depilatory tradition, didn’t see the big deal…until my Argentine husband came alone. Thanks in part to his rosacea and seborrheic dermatitis, he hated to shave. Shaving hurt so he considered it a chore, and he envied my dad the pleasantness of his shaving routine.

Noticing that there weren’t a lot of options for people like him who had problem skin and wanted or needed to shave, he spearheaded the creation of a VMV shaving line. With my mom’s research, we discovered that we could make it multi-tasking: allergen-free safety and real skin benefits with each shave.

My dad succumbed to multiple myeloma, thirteen very full, active years after his diagnosis. His initial prognosis was 6 months and so we are forever grateful to the brilliant, researching, innovating, publishing minds at the University of Arkansas for Medical Services Myeloma Institute for Research and Therapy for buying him over a decade of health. By the time we launched our shaving line three years later, we knew he’d be an inspiration for it somehow (or “skinspiration,” in our parlance 🙂 and he was. Everything about these formulations make shaving safer, less of a pain, gentler, and — with ingredients like yerba mate and coffee — a joy and a great morning picker-upper.

True to our mission of safety and proven efficacy, and our “why” of saving the world’s skin, this line’s efficacy, multi-beneficial elegance of function, and quiet luxury make this daily ritual a true pleasure, one that can be done leisurely, and with great benefits beyond the simple chore. And because these formulations are great on various skin and hair types, they’re awesome for anyone who needs to shave, any where!

We hope you enjoy it!

Laura, VMV CEO


Laura is the CEO of VMV Hypoallergenics and eldest daughter of our founding dermatologist-dermatopathologist. She has two children, Madison and Gavin, and works at VMV with her sister and husband (Madison and Gavin frequently volunteer their “usage testing” services). In addition to saving the world’s skin, Laura is passionate about learning, literature, art, health, science, inclusion, cultural theory, human rights, happiness and goodness.

Featured, Skin

A Fresh Start With Spring In Japan!

Sakura, or the cherry blossom, is Japan’s national flower. Celebrated by Japanese people of all ages, sakura are found in everything from textile patterns to a curious dessert flavor. Sakura blooms in March or April, and is even part of the daily weather forecast as the reporter announces where the “Cherry Blossom Front” has started. The Japanese business and school year starts in the spring, so Sakura also represents “graduation, “commencement,” “blessing,” and “joyous.” 


This joyous abundance signals that it’s time for a fresh start, a spring cleaning of the things that do not, as Marie Kondo would call it, “spark joy.” Take your skin care routine. Your skin, like the rest of our bodies, evolves over time. Take the cue from the blossoms — perhaps it’s time to transition back to the essentials. Re-evaluate what your skin needs (maybe even ask your doctor for a patch test if you’ve had a nagging skin issue for years), what your skin goals are, and redesign your targeted skincare regimen. 

Start with a Skin “Detox” to help your skin get back to its most non-irritated state. Then, choose from among our most popular regimens, or ask us to help customize a regimen for you! Give us a call at (212) 217 2762 or drop us a private message on Facebook, Ask VMV, or if you’re in Japan, shop at vmvhypoallergenics.jp.

Beauty, Featured, Skin

Trash & Re-Stash: Hypoallergenic Alternatives For Your Entire Medicine Cabinet!Featured

Start from scratch — with hypoallergenic alternatives — to end the scratching!

You Just Got A Patch Test?
Great! Now you know exactly what you need to avoid and are on the road to skin health, clarity, and comfort. But…what’s that? Your patch test shows you’re allergic to ingredients in pretty much everything you use now? You have to throw it all away — all of it…shampoo, cleanser, lotions, makeup — and start from scratch with hypoallergenic alternatives? That can be scary. So can that “naked” feeling of not using anything at all until you find products without your allergens.
Think about it: you have to go without using anything (including, in many cases, antiperspirant and toothpaste) until you find products you can use…and it may have taken you weeks or months to find all the stuff you use now!
Before you resign yourself to Walking Dead chic, try this: ask your doctor about our Allergen-Free Starter Set or pick up our Skin “Detox” Kit. Either covers all your basic needs so you needn’t panic when beginning your hypoallergenic lifestyle. Each formulation has zero of all 76 of the most common allergens (based on over 28,000 patch tests), making them ideal for the majority of allergic, irritated, or hyperreactive skins. Then, use this chart for an easy guide to hypoallergenic alternatives for your medicine cabinet staples. Still reeling from ingredient lists? Contact us for customized recommendations based on your patch test results!


Match what you need to trash with its hypoallergenic alternative. When in doubt, select products with the highest VH-rating (VH-76/76) — which means they have none of all common allergens.
Still unsure? For customized recommendations based on your patch test results, contact us by email, or drop us a private message on Facebook. To shop our selection of hypoallergenic products, visit vmvhypoallergenics.com.


Could Certain Foods Be Causing Your Itchy Skin?

So, you have dry, itchy skin. You slather on some cream to help with the dryness, but the itching is relentless and the dryness just comes back. What gives?

If your skin is prone to itching or is dry and red, inflamed, scaling, or oozing, common symptoms of eczema, then it’s possible food allergies or intolerances are at least part of the problem. According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology “Eczema, also known as “atopic dermatitis,” is often associated with food allergy; approximately 37 percent of young children with moderate to severe eczema also have food allergies.” [1]

And the UCLA Food & Drug Allergy Care Center states,

“About a third of children with moderate-to-severe eczema experience acute worsening of their chronic rashes when they ingest trigger foods.” [2]

The numbers for adults are not readily available, but should be similar.

Common eczema food triggers are dairy, eggs, gluten, soy, peanuts (and other legumes), but other foods such as those in the nightshade family (bell peppers, eggplants, etc.) and acidic foods (tomatoes, oranges, etc.) can also further aggravate eczema and itchy skin. Keep in mind, these are common triggers, but any food or even spice, can cause an allergy or intolerance. Many people think because they don’t see an immediate reaction after consuming one of these foods that the food must not be an issue for them. While immediate skin reactions to a food are usually labeled as a true allergic response and can include hives and itching among other symptoms, delayed reactions, considered an intolerance or sensitivity, are also possible and can occur up to 48 hours after a food is consumed. The source of an immediate reaction is much easier to identify, but with delayed reactions you would have to review every single ingredient in the food you’d eaten in the past two days to try to determine what caused the reaction. Quite an undertaking.

So, how can you determine if food is triggering your eczema or itchy skin?

Sadly, false positives and negatives are common with blood and skin allergy testing (IgE), as well as intolerance testing (IgG), making them very unreliable when used alone. However, when combined with your history of reactions or an elimination diet and food challenge, the mystery begins to unravel. For example, you can temporarily remove the foods from your diet that appeared positive in allergy testing, this is called an elimination diet.* It’s best to meet with a dietician about your restricted diet as they can help ensure you’re getting the proper nutrients during this time. Then ask your allergist to help you conduct an in-office food challenge, consuming small amounts of the foods in question in a controlled medical setting and monitoring for any reaction. Remember to be on the lookout for delayed reactions after you’ve returned home. If you discover one or more foods trigger your eczema, you should find relief by eliminating the foods from your diet as much as possible. If a food does not cause an immediate or delayed reaction, certainly add the food back into your diet and enjoy.

If you’ve eliminated the foods that were triggering your dry, itchy skin, but your eczema hasn’t fully improved, consider moving to natural, pH balanced laundry and household cleaning products, moisturizing soaps, and identify any seasonal or environmental triggers that may still be plaguing your skin. And remember stress is often a huge trigger for eczema. Try to reduce stress with calming activities like yoga, deep breathing, and meditation.

Everyone’s eczema triggers are different, but once you’ve found yours, you’ll be well on your way to healthy, beautiful skin.

About our Guest Contributor: Jennifer Roberge is a mother of two. She blogs about her family’s battles with eczema, allergies, and asthma at It’s an Itchy Little World. After conquering her son’s severe eczema, she founded The Eczema Company, which offers specialty clothing and natural, non-toxic skin care for eczema.

For more information, enter “eczema” in the search field at skintelligencenter.com.


  1. http://www.acaai.org/allergist/allergies/children-allergies/Pages/eczema-in-children.aspx
  2. http://fooddrugallergy.ucla.edu/body.cfm?id=39.

*Editor’s Note: The process of the elimination diet is similar to the “7-Day Skin Fast” we frequently recommend at VMV HYPOALLERGENICS® to safely try products on sensitive skin or skin recovering from a reaction.

This article is a Guest Contribution. We include articles contributed by doctors, experts or other individuals who wish to provide helpful information to their patients and the public at large, who respond to our requests to use them as professional resources, or who we feel can give our readers new insights into various topics. Contributors may or may not prefer to remain anonymous and we respect this preference. These resource articles do not in any way imply an endorsement by the guest contributor of VMV HYPOALLERGENICS® or any of its products, services or resource sites—they are intended for informational purposes only. While sometimes written by or with resource professionals, these articles should not be relied on for diagnostic accuracy or applicability to your particular skin, which requires an in-person ocular consultation with a qualified physician. For appropriate care for your skin, please consult your dermatologist.

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 validated hypoallergenic products — most of which are ideal for eczema, psoriasis, contact dermatitis, chronic acne, melasma and other complex skin conditions — visit vmvhypoallergenics.com.

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Featured, Skin, Tip of the Week

How To "Dew" Dry Skin Right

Dry skin — anything from generally being acne-free to visible peeling or hypersensitivity — can be something you’re born with or develop over time. Like our muscles or heart, our skins change over time, depending on what we’re eating, where we’re living, how we’re taking care of it, and regular ol’ aging. Being so “out there,” the skin can react to things it’s exposed to, what’s applied to it, the weather and our overall health faster than any other body part. But if the skin is so flexible and strong (it’s our first line of defines against the world), why is it so…vulnerable? We asked a published dermatologist and dermatopathologist (specialists at diagnosing skin at the cellular level) to help us understand what makes dry skin, and how can we better take care of it, so it can take better care of us.

What Causes Dry Skin?

Prunes with plums in small sack

Water and lipids (oils and fats) keep skin plump, firm and healthy. Barrier integrity is key.

On why dry skin happens: Dry skin occurs primarily from the loss of two very important things: lipids (oils) and water.
The outermost layer of skin is the barrier layer and it is largely made up of oil (lipids: free fatty acids, ceramides) and water. In this oil and water mixture, the lipids regulate the skin’s water content. Healthy skin retains water well, keeping it hydrated, smooth, pliable and soft. When the skin loses the protective oils, transepidermal water loss (the loss of water through the skin) increases to many times more than normal. This begins a “snowballing” effect that eventually not only causes dry skin but continues to maintain dryness.
On how dry skin creates more dryness and other problems: The outer keratin layers need a concentration of water of 10-20% in order for them to maintain their integrity (healthy structure and function). When water loss occurs, skin cells curl upwards, shrink, scales develop, and cell volume decreases (imagine a grape shrinking and shriveling into a raisin from water loss). The decrease in cell volume leads to cells becoming inelastic. And when this happens fissures or cracks in the skin can occur, leading to inflammation and the inflow of cellular factors that disrupt skin integrity further.

Why Can Dry Skin Be More Prone to Irritations, Allergies and Skin Reactions?

When your skin is in this compromised condition, it allows the easier entry of ingredients that can produce an allergic or irritant reaction, and microorganisms that can cause infection — all of which also contribute to the state of dry skin being maintained. In this state, be extra careful about what you apply. A product you think will give you relief could instead, if it contains irritants, cause further damage and lead to increased dryness.
To counteract the conditions that predispose people to get dry skin, remember: it is crucial to maintain adequate oil and water in the barrier layer of your skin.

What To “Dew” To Prevent Dry Skin?

1. Don’t Find Yourself in Hot Water

Hot water encourages the evaporation of water from the skin barrier. Keep water temperature tepid and take shorter showers.

2. Play Misty For Me

Cold air outside and warm air inside produces low humidity, made worse by central and forced-air heating. Air conditioning in the summer is drying,too. Some things you can do to help counteract this environment:

  • Use a humidifier at home. In your bedroom, try to position it as near you as possible without compromising safety.
  • In the summer, or if you live where it’s warmer, lower the strength of the AC.
  • In offices with air conditioning year round, be extra conscientious about your skin care regimen.
  • If you spend lots of time outdoors, remember that wind can be a formidable drying factor. Moisturize frequently.

3. Watch the pH


The skin’s pH is naturally more acidic, with a pH of 4-6.5. A skincare product with a high pH level tends to denature (destroys the characteristic or natural properties of) the skin’s proteins. Due to the way they’re made, solid bar soaps have higher pH levels (some going as high as 8 or 9) Use creamier cleansers instead of soaps. For hydration, use oils, moisturizers, and other products with a pH level adjusted to the skin’s normal pH of 4-6.5.

4. Think “Softly” — Not Squeaky — Clean

In cleaning products, it is the oil molecules that actually do the, um, dirty work, grabbing and trapping the dirt for rinsing away. But — arguably because of the association of a dry feel with cleanliness — many products made for bathing, facial cleansing, hand washing, shaving, etc. use stronger de-greasing agents which remove both the dirt-laden oil molecules as well as clean, barrier-protective oils and the skin’s natural lipids.  Avoid anything that promises to get you extra-clean or remove oil, as well as rough scrubs that further deplete sebum. Instead, use hair care, liquid or cream cleansers for the face and body, and other products made to enhance oil-retention. Try Essence Skin-Saving Clark Wash (the mild-mannered alter ego to our classic SuperWash).

5. “Moist” Is Your New Favorite Word

Daily and as needed throughout the day, use oils or moisturizers without allergens, irritants, additives or preservatives, such as virgin coconut oil. Virgin coconut oil has the added benefit of its fatty acids being native to skin — so instead of merely preventing water loss, it helps replace lost lipids.

A great tip: after bathing or showering, don’t towel dry completely. Instead, while your skin is still damp, immediately apply an oil or moisturizer on your skin to replace the oils lost in bathing and to trap in water. For very dry areas, you can add on petroleum jelly (again, one with no additives)…which, due to its barrier capabilities, is still a reliable favorite among many dermatologists. Massage well into moist skin. If you have exceptionally dry skin, apply the petroleum jelly before bathing to protect the problem areas (reapply after as well, if needed). Try The Big, Brave Boo-Boo Balm, which doubles as an anti-inflammatory for reactive skin and an anti-microbial to help control those pesky microorganisms that can worsen dry or atopic skin.

Take note that the most commonly affected areas are the lower legs, arms, thighs, sides of the abdomen, hands, and face.

6. Your Daily Skin Regimen is a Healthy Habit

As with your daily workouts and good nutrition, healthy habits are for your fitness and wellbeing…with looking great as an upside. The same goes for your daily skincare regimen. Proper maintenance (gentle cleansing, rich hydration and protection) keeps dry skin at bay which, as we know now, tends to become a self-sustaining vicious cycle.
Use a hydrating (as opposed to a de-greasing) cream cleanser for the face, a non-drying toner (perhaps one with active anti-aging ingredients) or if your skin is already very dry, skip the toner altogether, and an intensive moisturizer. Look for products with no allergens (fragrances, preservatives, dyes, etc.) and other irritants.
Shown here: Moisture Rich Creammmy Cleansing Milk, Superskin 1 Monolaurin + Mandelic Acid Toner, Creammmy Rich Intensive Moisture Milk, Know-It-Oil virgin coconut oil, The Big, Brave Boo-Boo Balm and Armada Baby 50+ mineral sunscreen.

Skin Conditions Needing Extra Care

Certain conditions make some people more prone to having really dry skin year-round.

  • Medical problems that may affect metabolic states (such as thyroid diseases or diabetes), or medications such as diuretics that dehydrate the skin.
  • Malnourishment from bad diets, drastic weight loss, or erratic or poor nutrition — this leads to a loss of vitamins, minerals, and sulphur needed for the proper production and regeneration of the skin’s barrier layer.
  • Elderly people who increasingly have lowered sebaceous gland activity (the skin produces less and less oil).
  • Beach worshippers or winter sports athletes can get lots of exposure to the sun during winter: it is very important to use a broad spectrum sunscreen (on skin and lips) to prevent burning which further increases water loss.

Those with highly sensitive skins must be very alert as the skin’s increased dryness and compromised state can make it more prone to irritations, inflammations, and infections. Avoid allergens and irritants (remember, many natural ingredients are allergens) in your hair care, makeup, skin care, and even clothing: dark colors (dyes), formaldehyde resins in the processing of clothing, chemicals used in dry-cleaning, stretch materials, and other materials that are potential irritants or allergens.
If you develop inflammations, infections, or lesions from cracks in the skin, use a gentle broad-spectrum antibiotic with your doctor’s guidance.
If you think any of these apply to you, particularly in the wintertime, you need to pay greater attention to your skin care, be conscientious about following these winter guidelines, and consider getting a patch test from your dermatologist.

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