Are you fed up with struggling to find toiletries and skincare that actually do what they’re meant to without causing infernal itchiness or making your face blotchy and red? Do you pick up a new moisturiser or shampoo on a shopping trip and have to cross fingers, toes, everything, that this one won’t cause your eyes to itch or your skin to break out in spots? And how can something that says ‘natural’ on the bottle end up making your skin so sore?!
Well, we can reassure you that you’re not alone!
1 in 5 children and 1 in 10 adults experience some form of eczema or skin irritation, so you’d think there’d be a really strong incentive for big cosmetic brands to avoid known irritants. But, amazingly, so much conventional skincare - yes, even the products that claim to be ‘mild’ or ‘natural’ - include synthetic ingredients that can flare up skin, drying it out and causing damage to the skin barrier that plays a vital part in keeping irritants out and moisture in.
Unfortunately, it’s absolutely standard for moisturiser to include potentially damaging parabens, synthetic fragrances or sulfates without including warnings for those with sensitive skin. It means that choosing yourself new products can be more like Russian roulette than a treat, even if you’re prepared to pore over lengthy ingredients lists in the hope of recognising some of the culprits!
We’ve made a list below of some of the common ingredients that can irritate skin and which those with sensitive, dry or eczema-prone skin might be wise to avoid completely!
You can rest assured that NO Balmonds product contains any of them. We also do our very best to explain why we use the ingredients, and we never include any purely for cosmetic reasons; everything in there performs a useful function in caring for your skin or keeping the cream stable and useable. If you need any further information about any of our ingredients, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re here to help!
As a final caveat, remember that even natural ingredients have the potential to cause a reaction. We’re all individuals and what our skin can tolerate varies hugely. So do be careful with any product you’re putting on your skin for the first time, in case you’re sensitive to even the natural, biodegradable or organic ingredients (such as essential oils, olive oil, beeswax or hemp) that we use. Never skip the patch test! Always apply a small amount - not more than a pound coin’s worth - of the product to the wrist or neck and leave on for at least 24 hours first.
Fragrance - whether listed as perfume, fragrance or parfum, substances added to make a cream smell nice are very often irritating to sensitive skin. They’re not included to nourish or protect skin so they’re not really needed. If you’re prone to eczema: avoid!
Parabens - commonly listed as things like butylparaben, methylparaben or propylparaben etc., parabens are synthetic preservatives that have been associated with skin irritation, dermatitis and dryness. They’ve also been found to disrupt hormone function. But they’re everywhere! Look for #cleanbeauty brands stocked by Holland & Barrett, which have committed to eliminate parabens from all their products.
Sulfates - sodium lauryl sulfate (aka SLS) is a foamer that is mostly used in shampoos and body washes to make the lovely bubbly texture we know means ‘clean’! It’s known to cause skin damage and irritation so best avoided by those with sensitive skin, even if it’s used in a wash-off product such as shampoo, but especially when used in a topical emollient like as aqueous cream, that’s designed to be left on the skin.
Methylisothiazolinone / Methylchloroisothiazolinone - preservatives found in cosmetics linked to neuro toxicity and allergic reactions, including eczema flare-ups.
Phenoxyethanol - preservative known to have caused severe allergic reactions and eczema.
Phthalates - now banned in the EU but still commonly used in products in the US, phthalates are linked to endocrine disruption, developmental and reproductive toxicity, and cancer.
PEGs - PEG is the abbreviation of polyethylene glycol, and refers to a mixture of compounds that are used as emulsifiers and for their skin-penetrating properties; they’re best avoided on broken or eczema-prone skin because they can cause skin damage, irritation and sensitivity.
Glycolic acid, salicylic acid, and retinol - these products tend to dry out or irritate skin which can make eczema patches worse or cause a new flare-up.