How To Tell If A Product Is Going To Irritate Your Skin
Skin is one of the largest organs on the body, and because of this, it’s essential to pay attention to what we put on it.
When you don't put the right products on your skin, it can cause itching, burning, acne or worse.
Whether you’re a sensitive person, have allergies, or simply want to take care of your skin, finding products that are safe for the skin can be a challenge.
Even with the best intentions, some ingredients in our soaps, skincare, makeup, and laundry products can irritate the skin and cause, among other things:
If you have ever experienced one of the above big four, you’ll know it’s not fun. And while some of the causes of these skin conditions can be related to diet, stress, toxin load on the body, or pathogens, we can rule out topical products pretty quickly.
So today we're going to discuss how to find out if a product is causing irritation on your skin. There happen to be quite a few toxins in beauty products that can do this (here’s a list of just 5 toxins in beauty products from Stefani at Natural Paleo Family). If one of these ingredients you find out is a skin irritant, we'll also discuss possible replacement items it so you can live more comfortably in the skin you're in.
Here are the steps to see if any of the external products we’re using on our hair, body or skin is the cause of your suffering.
Step 1. To find out if a product is irritating your skin, first locate the ingredients on the label.
If you can’t find the ingredients, you may want to switch to a product where the ingredients are available (I’ll list some of my favorite below).
Once you have the ingredients -
Step 2. Head Over to CosDna.com and enter the ingredients.
Go to the “Analyze Cosmetics” section of the site, clicking on the button “Analysis” when you’re complete.
Step 3. Review the results.
Here's an example:
For this example, I’m using one of my favorite skincare serums, Mad Hippie Vitamin C Serum (available on Amazon).
The results will show how likely it is each ingredient in a product will cause:
Under Acne and Irritant - Anything less than “2” considered safe and anything between a 3-5 is a probable cause of a breakout or redness.
Under Safety - Anything above a 4-5 under Safety would not be recommended and has possible health risks.
In the example above, you’ll see all the ingredients coming up as a 1 or a 2, this is good. It means this serum is likely not going to cause acne or irritation, and it's safe for your skin. Any 7’s, 9’s or high value numbers (the ranking goes up to 9) and you may consider replacing this item with something less irritating - your skin will thank you.
Step 4. Repeat this process for your entire skincare line, bath and body products, and household care items.
Then remove and replace any products that contain irritating ingredients - anything above a level “2” under Acne or Irritant and above a level “4-5” under Safety.
When you enter your products into the tester above, and you may find many items that contain ingredients that show up as red or rank higher than a 4. This was true for me so it may be true for you too.
Take time switching these items out as your budget allows.
Personally, when I went through this process of eliminating irritating products, basically every item contained an irritant, safety concern, or acne-causing ingredient.
It took me about six months to detox them all.
But the payoff was huge. Afterward, I noticed I completely eliminated my headaches, stopped having breakouts, and the burning sensations in my mouth, hands, and body after washing stopped altogether.
We are the canaries in the coal mine, so when we start to take control of the products we consume and stop putting up with irritation, over time, the entire market changes.
Until that happens, non-irritating products can be needles in a haystack, so I've compiled a list of the ones that have worked for me thus far.
If you’re looking for replacement products, here is a list of a few of the products that I've used which haven’t caused any irritation -
Non-Irritating Soaps and Skincare
Face Wash - Vanicream Face Wash
Face Moisturizer - First Aid Beauty Intensive Repair Serum
Treatment Serum - Mad Hippie Vitamin C Serum
Sunscreen - MD Solar Sciences Sunscreen
Night Treatment - Curology Personalized Skin Treatment - get a free trial at this link!
AHA Exfoliant - First Aid Beauty Radiance Pads
BHA Exfoliant - Paula’s Choice BHA 2% Salicylic Acid Solution
Eye Cream - Origins Ginzing Refreshing Eye Cream
Hair and Body
Soap - Vanicream Bar Soap
Mouthwash - Tom’s Wicked Fresh Mouthwash
This is just a short list of the products I’ve found that are gentle on the skin and don’t cause any irritation while you use them. Anything with an “*” indicates it’s available as part of a buying club, like an multi-level marketing program (MLM), such as Young Living. I’m a fan of MLMs of all forms and am currently a member of Young Living mostly for their essential oils. All other products are available on Amazon, or through the product website I’ve linked above.
My general rules are that if the products contain artificial fragrances, intense parabens, or endocrine disruptors I leave them out of my routine.
If ingredients aren’t released, I also tend toward finding products where the ingredients are available, that way you have access to allergen information. Some natural ingredients can cause acne or irritation in some folks, where some artificial ingredients may be easier on the skin. So as you move through the process of identifying what could cause irritation, be prepared to be surprised.
As you replace any products that contain irritants or safety issues, you may find that:
Your skin is less reactive
Any burning sensations or breakouts subside
You feel more comfortable in your own skin
When I reduced irritating skin care products, again - anything over a "2" rating in Acne and Irritant and anything above a "4-5" rating in Safety, I stopped all my breakouts and ended having migraines altogether.
Even though it may take some work, you will be thanking yourself for going through this process of weeding out the irritating products from your routine.
You deserve to be comfortable in the skin you’re in and have products that don’t cause further irritation to the skin biome. Use this above tool to your advantage, switch out products as you are able to, and feel more comfortable in the body you're in.
Your mind, spirit, and cells will thank you -
Amanda Linette Meder
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