Have you heard about “irritant-free” skin care?
It’s a fairly new buzzword, but what does it mean, exactly? And is this something you should be looking for when you do your skin care shopping?
What is Irritant-Free Skin Care?
This word has come about in response to consumers’ desire for more natural and safe skin care products. As we’ve all become more aware of the potentially toxic ingredients that can be in our cleansers, lotions, serums, and creams, we’ve realized that these ingredients can not only irritate, but harm the skin and accelerate the appearance of aging.
Fragrance is one of the leading “irritating” ingredients for many, as that one word signals a cocktail of chemicals mixed together to create a certain scent—ingredients that remain invisible to the user, because of trade secret laws. Fragrances are linked to allergic dermatitis, eczema, redness and rosacea, itching, flaking, and other sorts of irritations.
That’s just one example of an “irritating” ingredient. Sulfates are also known to be irritating. Common cleansing ingredients, they’re known to be harsh and to strip important natural oils from the skin, causing dryness, itchy skin, and other irritations. And there are many more.
Consumers are looking for something better. It’s not always easy, however, to find products that are safe and non-irritating, but also effective.
Does “Irritant-Free” Mean the Product Won’t Cause Itchy Skin?
This is where it can get more complicated. You’d think if you saw the words “irritant-free” or “zero irritants” on a product, it would be safe to use and you wouldn’t have to worry about itchy skin, but that’s not always the case.
Turns out that the word “irritant-free”—just like the words “natural” and “hypoallergenic”—is not regulated by the FDA or any other cosmetic oversight group. Manufacturers use these words to try to get your attention, but there are no requirements concerning how they may use them. In other words, a company can put these words on their products without fear of anyone checking up to be sure that the product actually lives up to its claims.
Manufacturers know that consumers have become wise to the fact that “natural” and “clean beauty” mean very little when it comes to what’s actually in the product, so they’re now looking for new ways to entice you to buy. “Irritant-free” is one of those newer words they’re now using to help convince you that their products are safe and won’t irritate your sensitive skin.
Can you trust that to be the case? Not because of that word alone. The problem is that not only are there no requirements for using the word, there’s also no one definition for what it means. Does it mean that the product is free of synthetic fragrances and sulfates? Does it mean that the product won’t irritate your skin no matter what? Does it mean that the product is made up of only natural ingredients? And what about essential oils that may be irritating?
When you think about it, there’s no way that one product can be entirely “irritant-free” for every single user, as some people have rare allergies to even natural products like essential oils. According to a report from “Today,” doctors are seeing a rise in reactions to natural products, simply because there are more of them out there today than there used to be.
Can Natural Products Cause Skin Irritation?
Indeed, studies have found an increase in reactions to essential oils, with one 2015 study showing a nearly 25 percent increase over a ten-year period in reactions to fragrance patch tests that included essential oils like jasmine, ylang ylang, rose, and neroli.
Most people make out great with these types of natural ingredients, but just like someone can be allergic to peanuts or shellfish—nutritious foods, after all—they can also be allergic to some natural products that otherwise, would be good for their skin.
Your best approach is to patch test any new skin care product before using it, and if you develop a reaction to something you’ve loved using for years, scour the ingredient deck, then head to your allergy doctor for a test of any ingredients that you may have developed an allergy to, so you can avoid them in the future.
How to Find Truly Non-Irritating Skin Care Products
Considering all this, how do you find skin care products that are least likely to irritate your skin, whether they say “irritant-free” or not?
Your best approach is to buy from brands that are conscientious about avoiding those ingredients that have been linked to skin irritation. CV Skinlabs is one of those companies. We had a toxicologist screen every one of our ingredients before we put it into our formulas, to be sure it wasn’t tied to any skin irritations, itchiness, redness, rosacea, eczema, or any other skin issues.
Most importantly, keep reading those ingredient lists. To help you out, here are some of the most common skin-irritating ingredients you may find. These are the ones you want to avoid.
- Synthetic fragrances
- Sulfates like sodium lauryl and laureth (SLS/SLES)
- Propylene glycol
- Mineral oil
- Methylisothiazolinone (preservative)
- Ureas (preservatives)
How do you avoid irritating ingredients?
“Can ‘all-natural’ products irritate your skin? Yes, and here’s how to avoid it,” Today, May 4, 2016, https://www.today.com/health/can-all-natural-products-irritate-your-skin-yes-here-s-t88086