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skintelligence

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!)

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

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!

Beauty, Skin, Uncategorized

Lip Service: 8 Ways To Pamper Your PoutFeatured

Did you know lip care is skin care?

Like the rest of your skin, your lips have a stratum corneum (the skin’s outermost layer) — but this protective layer is thinner on lips than on any other skin on your body. Combine that with a lack of oil glands (lips rely on saliva for moisture), absence of melanin (your skin’s natural pigment and protection against UV rays), and you’ve got one sensitive organ.
Your skincare just isn’t complete without lip care. Here are 8 ways to pamper your pout:
 

Skin

Your Hair Care Can Help (Or Hurt!) Your SkinFeatured

Let your hair care help, not hurt, you.

Believe it or not, your hair care matters to your skin.
Comedogens in shampoos, conditioners and styling products can trickle down onto skin, clogging pores and causing acne. Allergens can cause acne, too: while they don’t clog pores the way comedogens, do, they can irritate pores, causing an infected pore, aka acne. If your problem is sensitivity, flaking or rashes, allergen-free hair care can prevent flare-ups…sometimes dramatically!
For more on how hair care can affect your skin, check out these articles:

Beauty, Featured, Skin

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

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

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

TRASH & RE-STASH CHART

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

Featured, Skin

Please Customize My Skin Care Based On My Allergens!

I just got a patch test and can’t use anything! Can you customize recommendations based on my patch test results?

Absolutely: it’s what we “dew” best!

The single most common question we receive is: I just got a patch test…can you help me find products I can use based on my allergens? Even though selecting products that don’t have your allergens can seem overwhelming (especially if the list is long…and we’ve seen some long ones!), this question is often simple and straightforward at VMV Hypoallergenics because the majority of our products contain as few as possible (often zero) of all 109 common allergens.*
Furthermore, our unique VH-Rating System allows clients to more safely shop for products by showing them, at a glance, which formulations have zero allergens, and which contain an allergen or more (which are then highlighted in the Ingredients List so you can check if their your allergens). The VH-Rating System has been so successful that we’ve received less than 0.1% reports of reactions in over 30 years.
If you have a more complex skin condition, a complicated history of skin problems, or lots of allergens in your patch test results, we often offer a series of questions that, while long and detailed, can help us make appropriate, highly specific recommendations. Our Save-Your-Skin Questionnaire is often used with our Skin “Detox” (7-Day Skin Fast), and can give you valuable information that you can use in the future with your doctor, or in your search for more products at VMV Hypoallergenics or elsewhere.
If you are interested in a customized recommendation based on your patch test results, contact us by email, drop us a private message on Facebook, or give us a call at (212) 217 2762.

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 shop our selection of validated hypoallergenic products, visit vmvhypoallergenics.com.

*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.