It can be tricky to find products that don’t cause itching, irritation and soreness when you suffer with sensitive skin. Those that are unfortunate enough to have problems with their skin are often advised that using natural products may help their condition. However, so many products hide under the guise of ‘natural’, when the ingredients list tells a completely different story.
Be aware that just because a product states it is dermatologically tested or non-allergenic, it doesn’t mean it won’t cause further problems to your sensitive skin. That’s why it is so important to take your skincare into your own hands, look for the right ingredients and find brands that you can trust. We break down the ingredients to look for on a product label and avoid when buying beauty products for sensitive skin.
We’ve listed this one first as it comes as quite a shock. Essential oils are something we’ve conditioned our brains to believe have healing properties, and they do. However, they are also strong, concentrated substances and can easily cause irritation when they come into contact with the skin. Some more gentle oils such as tea tree oil or lavender oil may be okay to use on the skin if its condition can be considered ‘normal’, however they should still be diluted. So it’s good to remember, even natural ingredients can sometimes cause harm to sensitive skin.
These synthetic emollients, such as liquid paraffin and mineral oil, are known to cause irritation as they create a layer over the skin that blocks moisture from exiting and blocks the pores, which in turn causes a buildup of bacteria. These ingredients are popular in beauty products as they plump the skin, making it appear smoother, however this is a short-term benefit and eventually it will cause the skin to suffer.
SODIUM LAURYL SULPHATE & SODIUM LAURETH SULPHATE
These ingredients belong in the same family and work as foaming agents known formally as surfactants. They trap oil-based dirt so that it can be rinsed away with water, and so are often found in foaming facial washes, shampoos, shower gels and even toothpastes. While these ingredients are safe to use on ‘normal’ skin, they can dry it out quite substantially. Therefore, you should avoid these if you suffer with a dry-skin condition.
SODIUM TALLOWATE, SODIUM COCOATE & SODIUM PALMATE
These ingredients are types of soap that work to wash away oil and dirt from the skin. Sodium tallowate is made up of the fatty tissues of animals like cow and sheep to create a traditional waxy soap, so any product containing this ingredient is definitely not suitable for vegetarians or vegans. While sodium palmate and sodium cocoate are derived from natural sources including palm oil and coconut, similarly to sodium tallowate, they still contain compounds that strip the skin of oil, which naturally dries the skin and causes irritation.
These chemicals are often listed as one of the following; dibutylphthalate, which is used as a plasticiser in nail varnish, dimethylphthalate which is commonly used in hair sprays to prevent the hair becoming stiff and diethylphthalate, which is used as a solvent in many fragrances. There are many other types of phthalate that are used in moisturisers, body washes, hair care products and more.
Phthalates are thought to be endocrine disruptors, which means they interfere with the proper function of hormones, which can in turn cause problems for the skin, such as breakouts. Sometimes these ingredients aren’t provided in the label, so be sure to look for claims of “phthalate-free”.
Also known as cinnamic acids, cinnamates are UVB absorbers used in sun protection products. They again come under a variety of names, such as benzyl cinnamate, octyl methoxycinnamate, amyl cinnamate and more. These ingredients are known to frequently cause allergic reactions and worsen skin conditions like dermatitis and eczema.
Reported by DermNet, octocrylene is a new cinnamate that works to absorb UVB and UVA, but is thought to be non-allergenic and non-irritating, so by no means do we suggest you avoid using sun protection, but be vigilant when choosing which to use by identifying any harmful chemicals in the product ingredient list.
Bismuth Oxychloride is a naturally-occurring mineral, made up of a combination of bismuth, a byproduct of lead and copper and chloride. It is often used in mineral cosmetic products for its absorbent properties and pearlescent effect. Due to its crystalline structure, these products can block pores and cause irritation.
As this has been praised as a saviour substance in the beauty industry as of late, we’re sure it’s one you have heard of and have even considered trying to better your problem skin. While it can temporarily ease the symptoms of acne, overuse of this ingredient can dry out and cause thinning of the skin. Used too frequently, salicylic acid will cause the skin to peel and reveal fresh skin that isn’t ready to be exposed, causing it to become broken and sore. This damaging side effect can be even more severe if your skin is sensitive.
So now we know the ingredients to avoid, which ingredients are GOOD for your skin?
From shea butter and chamomile to calendula and oatmeal, there are many and as we mentioned earlier, natural is often best. But at Benessence, we’re advocates of aloe vera in skin care, even more so when it comes to sensitive skin. This amazing plant species renders so many positive benefits, in fact, you can read all about them in our Aloe Vera benefits blog.
This delicate facial cleanser works to remove dirt, impurities and make-up residue while protecting the skin’s natural oils to leave a smooth and fresh finish. Made up of regenerating and hydrating Aloe Vera, combined with the soothing properties of Calendula and Chamomile, this cleanser leaves the skin feeling clean, refreshed and silky smooth.
This toning shower gel is gentle and suitable for all skin types. The Aloe Vera juice used in this shower gel helps to nourish, soothe and protect the skin, while the calendula extract works to smooth, tone and firm. The use of mint and lavender creates an uplifting and rejuvenating scent without causing irritation the skin.
Our daily facial cream is rich in plant extracts that help to hydrate, tone and soothe the skin by combining Aloe Vera, Witch Hazel and Rosemary. Suitable for all skin types, this gentle product makes the skin feel firm and smooth and contains antioxidant properties that help to ease dry and cracked skin.
Whether you have a skin condition like eczema, psoriasis or rosacea, or you just have generally sensitive, irritable, rash-prone skin, read product labels thoroughly before you purchase a beauty product to check it doesn’t contain any of the ingredients we’ve listed in this article.
While we can’t ensure we’ve recited all the hidden nasties that exist in the beauty world, we’ve covered a large range. If you’re concerned about the condition of your skin, it’s always best to speak with a qualified health professional before using any products. Small changes can have a big difference, so taking the time to ensure only the most wholesome, quality ingredients make it into your beauty regime is really worthwhile.