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

Why Virgin Coconut Oil Is So Great for EczemaFeatured

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.
I read with interest that your products contain certified organic virgin coconut oil and monolaurin (derived from coconut oil) as, among other things, a substitute for parabens. Do all products containing coconut oil have the same antibacterial, antiviral and disinfectant properties that your products have? Could the “wrong” coconut oil be bad for your skin?
A:  Let me tackle all that one by one…

Yes, most of our products contain certified organic virgin coconut oil (VCO) and coconut-derived monolaurin…

Yes, in part as a substitute for preservatives, not just parabens. I should also point out that our proprietary preservative system that replaces preservatives is not just monolaurin. It’s a delicately balanced mix of a few ingredients. It’s a lot of work, I won’t lie — saving the world’s skin isn’t easy but it’s what we do, and we love the challenge 🙂
And you’re right, some of the other reasons they’re there is because they provide clinically-proven antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal benefits without the common side effects like increased tolerance to treatment or dryness. Yet other reasons they’re there include as anti-inflammatories because eczema is an inflammatory condition, and to protect the skin’s important barrier layer (which tends to be damaged in conditions like eczema). They also feel phenomenal on the skin and are wonderful moisturizers.

Does Any Product With Coconut Oil Provide Antimicrobial Protection?

Coconut oil in any product should provide some antimicrobial benefits, but how much depends on the type of coconut oil. Virgin coconut oil is definitely better but not the end game. Many “VCOs” are extracted or processed with heat (one used to be able to tell this quickly by smelling the oil…but now masking fragrances are added to mimic the purer oil which has less of an odor), which can lessen these benefits. Which brings us to the answer to your last question…

The Type of VCO Matters

Not all VCOs are created equal. VCOs are sometimes extracted with heat or allergenic chemicals, or stored in containers also used to store or move other products with allergens. This explains why the only reactions to coconut oil reported medical literature are to RBD (Refined, Bleached, Deodorized) coconut oil. Certified organic VCO is a better bet, for sure, as it is not an allergen and will have been checked to confirm organicity and lack of additives. But we of course can only vouch for the one we produce because we control it from seed to bottle, and it is the oil with which all our published clinical studies are done.
In summary, we use virgin coconut oil so much for skin with eczema because the skin’s barrier layer becomes compromised in eczematous skin. VCO provides barrier repair like virgin coconut oil. Daily use of VCO can help prevent flare-ups. VCO can also help 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. We have an allergen-free collection of multitasking Mom & Baby care that can help. This post on a regimen for kids with eczema is a great read, as is Top Recommendations For Patients With Eczema. And don’t forget to follow your doctor’s advice!

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.

Featured, Skin

Is Cheap Skincare Ok For Eczema? How To Care For Sensitive Skin On a Tight BudgetFeatured

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.

I have to rebuild my child’s entire stash of products. Should parents on a tight budget start their child on the cheapest skincare available? Is it possible to properly care for sensitive skin on a tight budget?

A: This is a great question for anyone. It is possible to care for eczema and other sensitive skin conditions when you’re on a tight budget if you know what to look for: reputation, clinical proof, and validated safety. These 5 best practices can save you a lot while still keeping your sensitive skin well cared for:

1) Don’t Let Price Be Your Only Guide.

For sensitive skin, price — high or low — is not the best way to choose a product:

  • Cosmetic ingredients can be cheaper or costlier due to the rarity, quality, purity, and source of the ingredients. Most businesses need to be profitable in order to operate. We can therefore assume that very affordable brands are tightly controlling costs in all areas, including ingredients. This is not necessarily “bad” but cheaper ingredients can be less pure or of a lower quality than their more expensive counterparts.
  • On the other hand, expensive brands might use the same cheaper ingredients but choose to have a higher profit margin. Pricier does not mean higher quality.
  • Sensitive or complex skin conditions tend to need higher-quality, specifically-sourced (more stringent requirements for the raw material), or less popularly-used ingredients. In general, this means more expensive ingredients.
  • Some cheaper products use allergens to make them more appealing and repetitive contact with allergens over time can break down sensitive skin’s already fragile (or damaged) barrier — as “Prioritize Prevention Over Treatment” below explains, protecting the skin’s barrier is incredibly important. Some cheaper products use lots of fragrances to cover up the sometimes stronger scent of less-pure cosmetic ingredients. These products could also be dyed to make them look more attractive and stand out more in their highly competitive market. Preservatives could be heaped on in order to help a product last much, much longer without special storage conditions (which many stores really like).

In summary: For very sensitive skin conditions that require a higher quality of ingredients and stricter controls, I’d suggest ruling out the bargain basement options. Something needs to be sacrificed to make them that affordable. But I wouldn’t just reach for the most expensive products either. Instead, study the brand you’re considering well — look for legitimacy, safety, and reputation. Choose less products that might be more expensive but that are multitasking, that last longer, that you can share at home, and that are proven to work. And prioritize prevention over anything else.

2) Less is More.

A best practice in hypoallergenicity is using products with few ingredients and using just a few products in general. Perhaps your child’s hair and body shampoo is pricier than most, but you can save money but not using a body soap. Pick the few, fundamental products that your child really needs.
The basics for babies and young children could be just 3 products:

  • Hair and Body Shampoo (which you can also use to launder baby’s clothing and linens)
  • Virgin Coconut Oil for face and body moisturizing (which can be used as a conditioner, too). If you’re on a very tight budget, choose pure mineral oil or pure petroleum jelly (pure meaning allergen-free: no preservatives, scents, dyes, etc.)
  • Steroid-Free Anti-Inflammatory Balm

All our products are formulated so that you don’t need a lot to get the benefits they promise, which helps them last longer.

In summary: tight budget or not, sensitive skin needs LESS products, not more.
Just be hyper selective and maximize your minimalist collection by choosing…

2) Multitasking Ingredients and Products.

The right skincare formulation can meet multiple needs. As the list above shows, an ultra-gentle product can be an excellent hair and body shampoo, and even be used for laundry.
Virgin coconut oil (VCO) is a master multitasker. It’s a phenomenal daily moisturizer that doubles as a hair conditioner and triples as an anti-inflammatory for flares. VCO is a natural antimicrobial — it needs no preservation and is broken down by lipases of friendly skin bacteria into monoglycerides with antiseptic properties — so that it also helps control microbial invasions that can occur in cracked skin. And you can use it as a facial cleanser, makeup remover, on food, and more (check out these 12 uses of virgin coconut oil for mom and baby).
Also, share your care! Pretty much all our products are meant to be shared between parents and kids, siblings, and partners.

In summary: Don’t buy into marketing categorization that would have you believe that you need “male” or “female” products. Most extremely gentle formulations can be shared (ask the manufacturer and your doctor to be sure, especially with products for children). And if you select wisely, the few products and ingredients that you do use will give you as many uses and benefits as a cabinet full of creams and ointments.

3) Prioritize Prevention Over Treatment.

Prevention is powerful. In eczema and allergic skin, the top thing to care for is the skin’s barrier layer. If you are guided by nothing else, be guided by this:

No allergens, ever, and moisture-moisture-moisture.

In different forms of eczemas, it is the skin’s outermost barrier layer that we need to pay attention to the most.

  • Genetic innate barrier dysfunction initiates atopic dermatitis: in eczema, the skin’s barrier layer has an innate dysfunction and needs extra care to protect…this is where to focus.
  • An allergic or irritant reaction breaks down the barrier in contact dermatitis. This is why it is so important to avoid allergens and irritants as much as possible.
  • Food around the mouth area can physically act on the barrier to cause problems. Food and skin (and even pet) allergies are not the same. If food allergies are also an issue, see an allergist, get a prick test, and perhaps try an elimination diet with your doctor’s guidance. But for skin, a patch test is much more reliable, as is the avoidance of contact allergens. For skin with atopic dermatitis (eczema), the role of food isn’t so much its ingestion but its contact with the skin. For example, lemon, lime, and citrus are top contact allergens and while someone who patch tested positive to them might be able to eat them just fine, the skin around the mouth might experience a reaction.
  • Secondarily, bacteria/opportunistic microbes cause a cross-damaged barrier layer in all types of eczemas. As the skin dries, cracks appear which are inviting to microbes. This can cause secondary infections which can worsen the dryness and itching. A skin-safe, non-allergenic antimicrobial like monolaurin would be ideal.

In summary: The few products that you do use should be hyper-focused on keeping the skin’s barrier as intact as possible. Choose the least irritating but most moisturizing and partially occluding products you can find without scents, preservatives, antibiotics, dyes and other common contact allergens. Again: focus on allergen avoidance in everything, from skincare to clothing, laundry, hair care, everything. Browse through Allergen-Not An Allergen to check what some common contact allergens are, or use our products with the highest Validated Hypoallergenic Rating (VH-Number) which are free of all published contact allergens. You can also drop us a private message on vmvhypoallergenics.com or Facebook with your patch test results and we’ll customize recommendations for you based on your allergens and possible cross reactants.

4) Spend a Bit More Where It’s Really Worth It.

A patch test isn’t cheap but knowing precisely which contact allergens you need to avoid will save you so (so) much money and time and reactions. It’s worth it. Save-up-for-it worth it. Check with your doctor and insurance to see if financial assistance is available for patch testing because it is just that valuable.
Safer, more specialized, high-quality products might be more expensive up front but save you lots over time. Using cheaper products with allergens could eventually trigger a reaction that requires more expensive recuperative care.
Topical steroids are inexpensive and deliver dramatic results…at first. But with continued use, they can thin the skin and become less effective. This can increase the dependence on topical steroids, increase the amount needed for relief, and cause additional health problems that can be more difficult and expensive to correct (including hospitalization during the rebound effect).
Our non-steroidal anti-inflammatories Boo-Boo Balm and Red Better Calm-The-Heck-Down Balm are more expensive than steroid ointments but they don’t cause serious health problems and you only need a little at a time. Unlike steroids, they do not have increasing tolerances so you don’t need more and more of them to get the same results. Especially when combined with proper prevention, they prevent flare-ups so effectively that you need them even less often. Importantly, in case an emergency occurs and a steroid is needed, it would be limited to once or twice in a year, which is much better for your health.

In summary: If you are highly selective about the few, multitasking products that you choose, you might be able to afford better-quality, safer products for your sensitive skin and still end up spending the same or less than buying a shopping cart full of cheaper formulations that could cause harm (and increased costs) in the long run.

We have an allergen-free collection of multitasking Mom & Baby care that can help. This post on a regimen for kids with eczema is a great read, as is Top Recommendations For Patients With Eczema. And don’t forget to follow your doctor’s advice!

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!)

Ask VMV, Skin

Rosacea: When Your Skin's Always On Red Alert!

Rosacea can be frustrating because it is so multi-faceted, involving bright redness, dilated vessels, big pores, photosensitivity, extreme dryness and large cysts or acne  — and possibly, all at the same time.

There is strong evidence that rosacea is more common than once thought. Rosacea is frequently under-diagnosed or misdiagnosed and its multi-factorial nature suggests that rosacea may share common inflammatory pathways with other inflammatory skin conditions. The contradictory nature of some symptoms — acne and severe dryness — can make treatment difficult (many acne treatments are drying on purpose, for example). There is clearly a need for a better understanding of rosacea.

We asked our founding dermatologist-dermatopathologist for help….

What Is Rosacea?

Rosacea is the prototype of red facial skin. It is characterized by:

  • Centrofacial redness,
  • Fine to more prominently-dilated capillaries (telangiectasia),
  • Small bumps that become larger that may eventually develop into acne and thick skin.

One or more of the following is/are sufficient to make the diagnosis:

  • Flushing (transient erythema or redness),
  • Persistent redness,
  • Obvious dilated capillaries,
  • Papules (bumps without infected matter) or pustules (bumps with infected matter, like pimples).

Additional symptoms and signs to look for are: burning/stinging, facial edema (swelling), dryness, plaques (raised patches), eye redness, similar changes beyond the face, and phymatous (swelling, masses, or bulbous) changes of the nose.

Who Gets It?

Rosacea changes are often first seen at age 30, more among women, with men more often having the type that produces bulbous thickening (rhinophyma) of the nose and bumps. While rosacea is described as more common in fair-skinned individuals, there are no prevalence studies among Asians and darker skin types where it is known to exist but is also often unrecognized or misdiagnosed as contact, photocontact, seborrheic or atopic dermatitis.

Risk Factors/Causes 

Those who tend to get rosacea seem to have a combination of 1) genetic predisposition, plus 2) an environment/lifestyle that includes triggers like spicy foods and sun and light exposure, 3) certain microbes on the skin and/or in the stomach, and 4) higher-than-normal levels of naturally-occurring pro-inflammatories in their bodies. In detail, common risk factors include:

  • A tendency to flush (turn bright red) easily in response to:
  • Certain chemicals or natural ingredients,
  • Some foods, such as alcohol or hot (both temperature and spiciness) foods;
  • Psychological factors like stress or shame.
  • Chronic sun and light (including heat) exposure; and
  • Genes: having blood vessels that increasingly dilate as they respond to stimuli.

Other factors include micro-organisms:

  • Demodex folliculorum (mites that live in the hair follicles of susceptible people).
  • Helicobacter pylori infection in the digestive tract.

Another theory concerns vascular development, the flow capacity of blood vessels, and neuro-transmitter mechanisms.

Some of the newest research shows cathelicidins as the primary cause for the inflammation in rosacea. These proteins are important to our innate immunity but are also PRO inflammatory. Cathelicidins are markedly increased in skin with rosacea which makes it hyper-reactive.

Our Recommendations:

Articles contributed by doctors do not contain product recommendations for ethical reasons, and we at VMV Hypoallergenics believe in protecting the integrity of our resource physicians. Below are some products that we at feel can be recommended based on the preceding resource information. They are our “skinformed” selections based on the insights given above and not necessarily recommended by the medical author of the article.
Most rosacea treatments use steroids or azelaic acid to reduce inflammation and redness, both of which are not intended for long-term use and can be irritating or have other side effects. Other treatments rely solely on antioxidants, and several contain allergens which are proven to promote inflammation and dryness. We recommend…


The best way to deal with redness is to prevent it. Prevention is important in all health concerns. When it comes to rosacea and hyperreactive skin, it is vital. Your new mantra: “non-inflammatory”.

  • Get 7-8 hours of sleep, de-stress, and exercise regularly (daily, even if some days are just easy walks).
  • Improve your diet: avoid processed foods, white sugar, white rice, white pasta (switch to brown, whole-grain, and raw alternatives), soda, pre-packaged juices (even “health” juices), candies, and chips.
  • Choose very gentle, non-reactive, anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory products in all of your personal care:
    • Hair and body washing: Essence Skin-Saving Clark Hair & Body Wash and Conditioner.
    • Sun protection: Armada Baby 50+ or Armada Post-Procedure Barrier Cream 50+.
    • Makeup: Skintelligent Beauty.


Try steroid-free, anti-inflammatory, moisturizing, comforting Red Better Redness + Inflammation Calming System.

STEP 1: Red Better Deeply Soothing Cleansing Cream (nay, custard) is an ultra-gentle, comforting facial wash.

STEP 2: Red Better Daily Therapy Moisturizer for anti-inflammatory + anti-cathelicidin therapy plus rich, palliative yet non-pore-clogging hydration.

STEP 3: Armada Post-Procedure 50+, a purely physical (“inorganic”) sun + light screen for use both indoors and outdoors all year round. Redness conditions can be photosensitive and can flare up just from indoor light exposure. Its subtle (mineral) green tint offsets redness, too.

AS NEEDED: If you have acne, Red Better Spot Corrector is a uniquely non-drying (even hydrating and soothing!) quick-acting spot treatment. For flare-ups, try Red Better Flare-Up Balm.

FAN TIP: Keep your skincare in the refrigerator (especially soothing for red, hyperreactive skin)!

Red Alert Skin-Savers

The big deadline got moved up. Your toddler decided to see if your phone could swim. That curry was spicier than you thought. You’re finally meeting that big client after months of wooing. Despite your best efforts, this is too much for your skin and it happens: the full-scale(y), fire-engine-red flare-up.

Your doctor might prescribe a topical steroid for short-term use — follow these orders. But if you can’t get to your doctor, get relief with non-steroidal, non-irritating Red Better Flare-Up Balm. 

Other skin-emergency tips:

  • Dab Boo-Boo Balm on the tip of a wet towel wrapped around ice. Apply gently as a cold compress.
  • If it’s such a bad flare-up that plain water stings, stop all products for the duration of the flare-up. Favor darkness (turn off lights and avoid windows). Meditate, sleep, relax — self soothing is important to not feed the inflammatory eruption. And see your dermatologist.
  • If the reaction seems worse than a typical flare-up and you notice a rash that is spreading or difficulty breathing, get to the emergency room.


“Dew” More:

To shop our selection of validated hypoallergenic products, visit vmvhypoallergenics.com. Need help? Leave a comment below, contact us by email, or drop us a private message on Facebook.

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.

Learn more:

About rosacea, see Can’t Calm Rosacea? #candew!and Put Angry Skin On “N-ice”.

To learn more about the VH-Rating System and hypoallergenicity, click here.

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

Beauty, Healthy Living, Skin, Tip of the Week

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

Pause, please. 

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


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.
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!
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!


“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