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What’s The Problem With ‘Miracle Creams’?

 miracle creams for eczema

There seems to be a story about a miracle cream for eczema in the media every single day at the moment!

So why do press reports about these apparently magical products get our goat?!

The constant stream of articles about eczema 'cures' is both a blessing and a curse for those of us living with eczema or psoriasis, as, on the one hand, they offer fresh hope for a miraculous recovery and raise awareness of difficult and under-reported skin conditions, but on the other, so many of the creams featured in the media turn out to be yet another disappointment when actually used on sore skin.

Of course, Skin Salvation has had its fair share of 'miracle cream' mentions in the press recently, with so many of our customers wanting to spread the good news that they’d finally found something that really helped their dry skin. And, judging by the volume of testimonials and success stories we get sent every week, it really does have life-changing results for people, especially when used alongside a whole raft of other strategies for battling a chronic skin condition, such as looking after your gut health, switching laundry detergents, avoiding inflammatory foods and identifying your own particular triggers for flare-ups (see our Info Hub for more suggestions).

But none of these moisturisers that the press raves about  - no, not even Skin Salvation! - is a cure for eczema, because eczema is a chronic, life-long condition, something you manage rather than eliminate.

So just how useful are most creams at managing symptoms of itchy, dry skin? Just look at the ingredients in some of those products: substance after substance that could easily irritate sensitive skin are being touted as ‘eczema-friendly’.

It made us realise that generally people don't expect a range of toiletries marketed as ‘suitable for eczema’ to include ingredients that could themselves cause a flare-up, and wouldn’t necessarily even know what to look out for!

Bearing in mind that everyone is different and that what flares one child will be fine for another, let’s run through some potentially problematic ingredients that can be found in lotions and potions directly marketed as suitable for kids with sensitive skin!

Remember that if you do try out a new cream, however mild it seems, it’s always important to patch test first (see our guide to patch testing here).


Parfum

It’s a good rule of thumb to avoid anything that contains parfum or fragrance if you’re using it on eczema! It’s not necessary to scent moisturisers: the scent doesn’t help skin, it just makes it nicer to use. But, unfortunately, those nice smells come at a cost: fragrance is the most common culprit for irritating skin, and can end up sensitising even 'normal' skin, let alone that of eczema sufferers.

Balmonds have an across-the-board no fragrance strategy, because perfumes are so often irritants that they’re best avoided totally. 


Benzyl Alcohol

This is a preservative that can cause skin irritation in some people and at some concentrations. We don’t use it in Skin Salvation because the oil-based formula means it doesn’t need extra preservatives, but do put a small amount in our water-based creams to keep them safe.

Check the ingredients and see how far down benzyl alcohol is listed! If it’s at the bottom you can be sure that only minute quantities were used. Near the middle and it’s quite a lot of alcohol in the formulation and it might become more of a problem.

If you want to avoid benzyl alcohol altogether, stick to 100% natural ointments and oils instead of creams.


Hexyl Cinnamal

This is a fragrance-masking ingredient, added to make some other ingredient more palatable! Unfortunately, it is listed on the EWG SkinDeep database (which is always worth checking if you're unsure about an ingredient) as a possible human immune system toxicant or allergen, associated with allergic reactions, and best avoided by those with sensitivities.


Essential oils

Limonene, linalool, geraniol, eugenol, cinnamal, citronellol all indicate the presence of essential oils and are worth being cautious of if you're using a product on sensitive skin. Essential oils are not always tolerated by babies and some are best avoided altogether.

In fact, some aromatherapists don't recommend any essential oils for use on children under three, even in dilution, because they can be sensitising to delicate skin. The list of oils to be wary of includes rosemary, sage, citrus and lemongrass, so look out for them in baby products.

Skin Salvation is free from essential oils for this reason, and the oils we use in our Baby & Child range (lavender and chamomile) were chosen as particularly soothing and suitable for delicate skin.

Alpha-Isomethyl Ionone

It sounds like something from outer space but it’s actually another synthetic ingredient associated with scent. It works to mask fragrance and has been flagged as a possible human immune system toxicant or allergen. We’d suggest it was best avoided in products made for delicate skin.

Paraffin

So many conventional creams use paraffin as the main bulk of the product because it's cheap and works well as a barrier over compromised skin barriers. But it can come with problems: see our blog about paraffin in emollients here for more details!

Other allergens

To reduce the risk of people reacting to Skin Salvation we don’t use any ingredients made from cow’s milk and we don’t add fragrances processed from living creatures; that means no dairy-derived fatty acids, animal-derived glycerin, keratin, lanolin, tallow, ingredients made from fish or shellfish, or ingredients made from egg protein.

Our philosophy, quite simply, is that we want Skin Salvation to be as useful and as safe for possible as many people as possible!

 

Posted on: Sep 16, 2019

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