Allergen, Not An Allergen, Skin

CRYSTALS & GEMSTONES: Allergen or Not An Allergen?Featured

CRYSTALS & GEMSTONES: Allergen or Not An Allergen?

Not An Allergen.

Crystals & Gemstones

Mineral crystals (like agate, chalcedony, malachite, tiger’s eye, and amethyst) and rocks that are considered gemstones (like jade and lapis lazuli) are not published skin allergens. But look out for those that may be contaminated with allergens like nickel, cobalt, gold, or chrome. Reactions can also occur with handling, such as if the stones are washed with cleaning agents that do have allergens, stored in containers with allergens, or touched by hands that have touched allergens. As well, the settings of these semiprecious stones may cause allergic reactions if they contain nickel, gold, leather, or other allergenic metals or materials.

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.


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 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
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.

Beauty, Featured, Skin

Can I Use Jewelry If I Have Sensitive Skin?Featured

The simple answer? Maybe. Gold is an allergen but it’s nickel that’s the real danger for those with contact dermatitis. Nickel isn’t just an allergen or a top allergen…nickel is frequently the number one most common allergen on published allergen lists. It is difficult to find metals without nickel in them — even if you use non-metal jewelry, pay attention to clasps and earring pieces. What helps is if the nickel is bonded extremely well, so that the chances of it rubbing off and causing a reaction are minimized. Because of how difficult it can be, and because hypoallergenic is who we are, we’re always on the lookout for jewelry for those with sensitive skin. We already work with Yciar Castillo for makeup, and were thrilled to learn that she launched a new jewelry line, with skin safety as something that she tries to prioritize!
My grandmother was a woman who loved to accessorize. Growing up, she used to show me her different pieces of jewelry and tell me the stories behind each piece. I was fascinated by every anecdote and the history and provenance of each item. This is where my love affair with jewelry began.
As I grew older, I began developing an interest in semi-precious stones. My cousins and I knew exactly what our birthstones were and the properties that came with each. So it was no surprise that when I decided to choose a hobby and study again, I chose to take a short course in metalsmithing and jewelrymaking.
Being a makeup artist by profession, I am very conscious of how skin can react to anything that it comes in contact with, from our skincare and cosmetic products, to the detergents we use on our clothing, the fabrics our clothes are made of, and the materials and metals used in the accessories we wear. When I started making my pieces, I was lucky a friend of mine helped me test my gold earrings and gave me a lot feedback. Another friend also brought my handmade silver earrings to a dermatologist who performed a nickel test with a special solution. Nickel is a metal that is found and used in a lot of costume jewellery. It is the most common cause of allergic contact dermatitis in adults. My jewelry tested negative for nickel. This gave me the assurance that my pieces are safe for many people with sensitive skin.
I love being creative and working with my hands. I started making jewelry as something to do part time, I post my pieces on Instagram and have called my jewelry Quinntas – after my son, Quinn.
For best results: if you think you might have contact dermatitis, ask your dermatologist for a patch test.


Yciar is a makeup artist and jewelry designer who’s all about family, adventure, and keeping it simple — her philosophy is “makeup does not have to be complicated.”  Follow her on instagram to be inspired!