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safe cosmetics

Allergen, Not An Allergen, Featured, Skin

What Sensitive Skin Should Avoid: Can You Spot The Allergen In This Picture?Featured

What Sensitive Skin Should Avoid: Can You Spot The Allergen In This Picture?

Got sensitive skin? What in this picture should you be wary of? If you guessed the chemicals on the piece of paper on the left, you’d be wrong.

Everything in the photo above is a common allergen:

  1. The chemicals on the paper on the left (more on these below);
  2. The organic sprigs of lavender (top right);
  3. Mint (bottom right);
  4. Tree trunk (propolis — from beeswax — which can be present in the resin and the bark); and
  5. The grass (because of common insecticide ingredients or, even if completely wild, because of the pollens that fall on it from surrounding plants and flowers).

Bonus point: if you also said the adhesive tape on the edges of the paper on the left, you’re a rockstar skintellectual!

Natural is good for you, right?

Yes! Natural and organic things are SOOOO good for you on so many levels. Eating antioxidants in fresh fruit and vegetables is far better than taking nutritional supplements. Less processed foods means less added chemicals and allergens, many of which your body cannot process normally.

But natural does not mean hypoallergenic.

Many natural substances (like those above) are allergenic.

Should those with sensitive skin avoid natural or organic ingredients?

Not necessarily. Just because something is an allergen (an ingredient known to cause allergies) does not automatically mean you cannot use it…even if you have sensitive skin.  Instead of random trial and error (which can be expensive and painful), ask your doctor about a patch test. This painless test can tell you exactly which allergens you need to avoid. Armed with accurate information, you can enjoy the goodness of natural foods and ingredients that you know you’re not allergic to.
Want to know what the thing on the left is? Those are Finn Chambers, which are aluminum pans on a paper that is then stuck on your back in a patch test. Similar to a prick test for food allergies, patch tests help identify which allergens (natural or not) you in particular are sensitive to. Thinking about getting one? Check out CC’s own patch test experience now.
To learn more about the difference between natural and hypoallergenic, check out Is Natural Hypoallergenic? The Answer May Surprise You (But Shouldn’t) or browse through Skintelligencenter.com.

Featured, Healthy Living, Skin

Is Natural Hypoallergenic? The Answer May Surprise You (But Shouldn't)Featured

Is Natural Hypoallergenic?

The short answer is: no.

And that really shouldn’t be surprising. Think of how many allergy medication commercials you see when it’s pollen season.
But does this mean natural is bad? Absolutely not! Eating natural, less processed foods is a must for your health. Using skin care with more natural, less processed ingredients is also a good idea (chemicals used in processing can be even more allergenic than the ingredient itself). But in both cases, natural does not mean hypoallergenic.
Allergens-Peanuts-LVB-15Sep2015-IMG_0807-20150915
Hypoallergenic means less likely to cause an allergic reaction. Many natural substances, no matter how organic, are top allergens (substances known to cause allergic reactions). While food, dander, pollen and skin allergies operate differently (so differently that if you prick test positive to a substance the chances are that you can use it on your skin), the same logic applies: if you prick test positive to peanuts, dander or pollen, you would avoid eating them, no matter how natural or organic they are. If you patch test positive to lavender, citruses, and mint, you should avoid touching or using them, no matter how natural or organic they are.
If you haven’t yet had a patch test and you have sensitive skin or a history of reacting to skincare products, choosing products with natural ingredients could be making things worse. Many natural substances — such as tea tree oil, orange, fragrances, ylang-ylang, and eucalyptus — are top common allergens.
Allergens-TeeTreeOil-LVB-15Sep2015-IMG_0807-20150915
That said, it helps to know what you, in particular, are sensitive to. Just because something is an allergen doesn’t mean it’s one of your allergens. For example, nuts, lemons and shrimp are allergens but if you haven’t prick tested positive to them, you shouldn’t avoid them (in fact, they’re very healthy foods). Vitamin E and tea tree oil are top skin allergens but great ingredients. If you have not patch tested positive for them, you might still be able to enjoy their benefits.
Allergens-Mango-LVB-15Sep2015-IMG_0807-20150915
Avoid trial and error, which is highly unreliable. To find out your allergens, get a patch test.
Allergens-Flower-LVB-15Sep2015-IMG_0807-20150915
If your patch test shows you are sensitive to certain ingredients, natural or not, avoid them.
If you haven’t yet had a patch test but have sensitive skin, you’re better off choosing hypoallergenic over “natural” to prevent flare-ups, rashes, irritations and even acne, dark spots (many allergens are also photo-allergens, which react with light to cause hyperpigmentations), and chronic dryness.
On a final note: “natural” is not a regulated term so it could, theoretically, mean anything. “Organic” is well regulated but check for the official seals of the certifying authorities. “Hypoallergenic” is regulated in most markets, but not all, and standards differ. For more on the differences between “natural,” “organic” and “hypoallergenic,” check out Hypoallergenic or Natural? and watch this video in our YouTube channel.
Allergens-Shrimp-LVB-15Sep2015-IMG_0807-20150915
IMPORTANT: Food allergies and skin allergies operate differently.

Need Help?

VMV Hypoallergenics® formulations contain none, or as close to none, of all of the 109 most common allergens (based on over 25,000 patch test results). Our VH-Rating System (the first and still the only sensitive skin “grading system”) shows you at first glance how many allergens are not in a formulation…or, if there is an allergen present, which one (if it’s not one of your allergens, you can use the product with confidence). It’s so effective, a published clinical study in a leading contact dermatitis journal shows less than 0.1% reactions reported in over 30 years.
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.