Can Natural Products Irritate Sensitive Skin?

Sensitive skin questionQuestion:  I have sensitive skin so I switched to all natural  products made with sustainable ingredients. Now my skin  has actually gotten worse.  My doctor wants me to use a steroid cream to clear it up.  Do you have a healthier solution?

Answer:  This  is the third email with a similar problem that  has shown up in  my mail box  this spring.The sad truth is that almost anything can irritate the skin.While natural and sustainable ingredients sound healthier and less irritating than products formulated with chemicals, a new ingredient made from sustainable ingredients  has been named  “Allergen of the Year”  by the American Contact Dermatitis Society.

Called Alkyl Glucoside, it is made from coconut oil and simple starches like potato, corn, or wheat. It sounds like the perfect ingredient if you care about your skin as well as the planet. Alkyl Glucoside is used in rinse-off products like shampoos and shower gels and leave-in products like deoderants, sunscreens and  moisturizers. Sady it can  irritate all types of skin, but seems to be especially a problem for  people with eczema asthma and seasonal allergies.

Managing Sensitive Skin

Clearing up your problems starts with a “Skin Detox” . This means taking a four week break from just about everything you are using  on your skin.  This includes cleansers,serums, oils, moisturizers, foundation, blushers and highlighters.  You even  need to stop using lipstick, but you can wear mascara and eye makeup.  To cleanse and protect your skin use super mild formulations designed for sensitive skin.  They are not sexy, but  will clean  and protect the skin as it heals. I recommend Cetaphil for cleansing, CereVe for a moisturizer and a mineral based sunscreen like Physical Fusion from Skin Ceuticals.  When choosing any skin care product during this month, avoid those with active ingredients includig retinols, alpha or beta hydroxy acids  as well as antioxidants.

A month can seem  like a very long  time to go cold turkey from skin care and make-up.It  takes 28 days for brand new  skin cells to grow up from lower layers to replace those cells which have been damaged by an  irritant like Alkly Glucoside.  After the skin detox month ends, gradually add back your own products.  Add another item  every week to be abe to identify which ones are causing problems.  If problems pop up again, go back to  using as few products as possible. Your skin ( and wallet) will tank you.


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