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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…

Prevention

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.

Therapy

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

Featured, Healthy Living, Skin

Skin and Nutrition: 5 Foods To Add For Healthy SkinFeatured

Beauty is within…

The phrase “beauty is within” may seem spiritual or philosophical but it is evidently true in science and our physical well being.
There has been an explosion of fortifying food, beverages, and even beauty products with vitamins and minerals (natural additives) intended to enhance a product’s effectiveness. Assuming they are present in the stated concentrations, how can these so-called natural additives improve effectiveness? These natural additives are essential components for the efficient functioning of each cell in our body. The possible result, therefore, in a particular product fortified with these natural additives is that the product could be more effective than others without them. But nothing beats eating foods that are naturally rich in these vitamins and minerals.
Each of our cells is a vital part of a larger organ and each cell in our body thrives on proper nourishment and protection to ensure its optimal function. Of all the organs in our body, the skin is the largest. This beautiful armor encases our body to house other organs, protects our body from harmful things we come in contact with in our environment, helps us regulate our bodily temperature, and allows us to interpret sensations (pain, wet, soft, etc.). The skin is also a mirror of our nutritional status. Give your body the proper nourishment and it shows, beautifully, on healthy, glowing skin. Add these 5 food essentials to your daily diet for a inside-out health:

CITRUS FRUITS


While common contact allergens, citrus fruits are important to eat (just take care to avoid skin contact if you’ve patch tested positive for them). They are well-known good sources of vitamin C, which aids in the production of collagen (the protein that forms the basic structure of the skin). A study on over 4,000 women aged 40-74 published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition linked nutrient intake and skin aging. The study found that women who had a higher intake of vitamin C were less likely to have dryness of the skin and wrinkles, and more likely to have better skin-aging appearance. Citrus fruits are also abundant in antioxidants that prevent skin from cellular damage. So for smooth, taut skin, add citruses to your salad, eat them as snacks, or drink them!
Good sources are: oranges, cantaloupe, kiwi, guava, pomegranate, lemon, lime.

SEAFOOD


The sea contains treasures far beyond pearls. Fish and shellfish are rich sources of zinc and the important fatty acid omega-3.
Zinc is an essential mineral that can help combat acne since it is involved in metabolizing testosterone which affects the production of sebum, the oily substance that is one cause of a certain type of acne. Zinc can also facilitate the sloughing of dead skin cells by boosting new-cell production.
An increase of omega-3 in the diet can significantly reduce inflammation and dryness of the skin. Inflammations can hasten the skin aging process and are linked to many skin problems.
For youthful and glowing skin, fire up your grill with salmon, tuna, halibut, or prawns, or tame your hunger pangs with a warm seafood chowder. If you are more adventurous, shuck some fresh oysters or whip up an enticingly spicy Ceviche!
NOTE: seafood can be rich in iodides so control your intake if you have halogen acne.

RED & GREEN VEGETABLES


They add color to any dish but more importantly, they are rich sources of vitamin A and beta-carotenes.
Vitamin A is an antioxidant that facilitates the removal of dead skin cells on the outer layer of the skin. It helps in collagen production and in thickening the dermis (the layer of the skin that contains collagen, which is an important protein that hydrates the skin and keeps its elasticity).
Beta-carotene is also a powerful antioxidant, protecting the cells of the body from damage caused by free radicals. Furthermore, it helps reduce sun-induced skin damage and may help improve melasma. German researchers found that as little as 30 milligrams a day (the equivalent of 11/2 cups of cooked carrots) can help prevent or reduce the redness and inflammation associated with sunburn. “Beta carotene accumulates in the skin, providing 24-hour protection against sun damage,” says Ronald R. Watson, Ph.D., professor of public health research at Arizona Health Sciences Center in Tucson. Its use for skin protection is a reason why it is added in many supplements and topical creams.
For radiant-looking and smooth skin, enrich your diet with vitamin A- and beta carotene-filled colored fruits and vegetables such as mango, apricot, sweet potatoes, carrots, kale, broccoli, spinach, turnip greens, winter squash and collard greens.
NOTE: while vital to your health, beta carotene-rich foods cannot replace the daily use of sunscreen.

NUTS & SEEDS


These alternative sources of protein have the added bonus of being rich in the cleansing substance, fiber. Fiber is important to rid the body of waste and impurities. Nuts and seeds also contain a highly effective antioxidant in vitamin E.
Protein helps repair cells that have been damaged by free radicals. When protien is digested it is converted into amino acids, the building blocks of cells, which helps speed up the repair of skin cells and collagen.
Vitamin E is another top contact allergen but excellent fat-soluble vitamin that inhibits further damage of cells caused by free radicals — so if you have sensitive skin, eat it instead of spreading it on in a cream. It works together with other groups of nutrients like vitamin C, gluthathione, slenenium, and vitamin B3 to counter oxygen molecules that become too reactive (highly reactive oxygen-containing molecules damage the structure of the cells surrounding them).
Aging may be inevitable but having youthful, soft skin is attainable. Try sprinkling some nuts and seeds on your favorite dishes and salads and (with proper skincare and daily sunscreen use) watch those age lines ease up on you! Choose from walnuts, almonds, peanuts, pine nuts, macadamia, pecans, brazil nuts, sunflowers seeds, sesame seeds or poppy seeds.
NOTE: as always, follow your allergist’s instructions.

WHOLE GRAINS


“Whole” grains simply means: grains that did not undergo the extensive processing to remove their harder covering…which actually is the part containing the nutrients our body needs. Whole grains are rich in rutin and vitamin B.
Rutin is a bioflavonoid, found abundantly in buckwheat, and may be considered as an antioxidant working synergistically with vitamin C. One of its main functions is the proper absorption of vitamin C in the body. Rutin helps prevent vitamin C from being metabolized, which in turn enhances its benefits in the immune system.
Vitamin B is linked to acne (truer more for vitamin B12 but also for vitamin B6) but is very important to your body’s health! It strengthens the skin’s barrier by hydrating cells and acts as an anti-inflammatory, preventing redness and irritation of the skin. It aids in healthy skin-cell turnover. It is also said to help metabolize macronutrients and the absence of vitamin B renders the skin susceptible to skin lesions and light sensitivity.
For fresh, clear and more moisturized-looking skin, have a slice of your favorite buckwheat, whole wheat, rye, or multigrain bread! If you’re not fond of bread, brown rice or whole-wheat noodles might do some vitamin B goodness. Just go easy on the portions please!
NOTE: do not automatically assume that vitamin B is causing your acne. There are many types of acne and many possible causes, and vitamin B is too important to your health to avoid without your doctor’s ok.

This list is a helpful guide and by no means the only food that is helpful to the skin. Our skin needs protection and nourishment for it to be at its best. The bottom line on nourishment for our skin is still to have a diet that is nutritionally dense, varied, balanced and well-proportioned, plus engaging in physical activity that ensures the proper distribution of these nutrients throughout the body.

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Check out the other posts related to skin, exercise, and nutrition:

Eat Right, Exercise, Daily Skincare Regimen: Healthy Habits to Look & Feel Your Best
Your Skin Wants You To EAT Your Antioxidants
Your Skin Wants You To Exercise Daily: 30-Day Healthy Skin Challenge


Nutrition & Lifestyle Counselor Ginny Sinense-Marksl, RN-D, is a graduate of the University of the Philippines Diliman and a member of National Kidney Foundation in the USA. She’s been an avid student and practitioner of health and nutrition her entire adult life — professionally, for 20 years. Her passion is for overall wellbeing, other than just health and fitness, and she is a frequent speaker at corporate wellness events. She believes health is our life power and that we should take any chance that we get to optimize it!

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.

Skin

How To Choose The Right MoisturizerFeatured

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

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

How to Choose:

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

Healthy Living, Skin

Less Is More In Skincare, Too!Featured

Less Is More In Skincare, Too!

SIMPLIFY.

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

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

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

For more on reactions:

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

Skin

Your Skin Needs You To Stop StressingFeatured

Make stress management a priority.

Like, now.
Set an alarm to meditate for 10-20 minutes a day. And schedule a facial to zone out for an hour. And keep a gratitude journal. And do yoga. And turn your phone off on the weekend. That’s “and,” not “or,” by the way. Your skin, body, and mind will reward you for it.
An increasing number of studies is showing that stress has profound, widespread, and lasting effects on many aspects of our health, from depression, to obesity, how our brain becomes “trained” to function, and even cancer. Stress is so linked to skin that in many practices, stress management and therapy are standard in the management of psoriasis. Stress is inflammatory and tends to trigger acne, premature aging, psoriasis flare-ups, and eczema.
For more on how stress can affect your skin, check out these articles:

Tip: a remarkably efficient way to hit anti-stress and skin goals in one hour? Book a facial!

Skin

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:
Prevent:

  • 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.

Repair:

  • 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.

Antimicrobial:
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.
Moisturize:
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
  2. SHAMPOO & BODY CLEANSING
  3. CONDITIONER: Essence Skin-Saving Conditioner
  4. MOISTURIZERS:
  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)

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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!)