How to Know When Your Skincare Products Are Too Harsh
Dry and cracked skin, rashes, blisters, hives, inflammation, irritation. Some of these cause physical discomfort, some have visible symptoms (like redness), and others cause both. Regardless of the specific manifestation, if any of these occur after you apply a skin-care product, it is a safe bet that you should not use that product. You may have a chemical allergy to an ingredient in the product or an underlying medical issue that is indicating that the product will not help you be beautiful, or you may have applied something that is harsh, caustic or toxic. Either way, your skin, the largest organ you have, is telling you to avoid whatever is causing the symptoms. And you would be wise to listen.
Are You Allergic or Just Irritated?
The only way to determine if you are truly allergic to a chemical or other ingredient in a product is through testing; this is something that a dermatologist can do for you. It is rare, but not impossible, that you have an allergy to something completely natural that is found in a product. It is more likely that you have contact dermatitis, a chemical sensitivity, that may occur when your skin comes into contact with common everyday products like shampoo or cologne. This may occur even if you have been using that product for years because your body can slowly develop an intolerance. Immune mediated allergic reactions to cosmetics are actually quite rare, despite the fact that many cosmetics and skin care companies make heavy use of harsh allergens and some even use toxic ingredients. Once you have a chemical or allergic reaction, chances are that you always will; which makes it wise for you to learn how to avoid harsh and potentially toxic products in your beauty routine before this impacts you. Some people with exceptionally sensitive skin will find it much more difficult to identify skin-care products that do not cause any irritation. This includes people who have rosacea. If you know you have an allergy, then avoiding that specific allergen is the only way to avoid a reaction.
Avoiding Toxic Skin-CareIf you have sensitive skin or rosacea, with or without an allergy, then it is even more important to make sure that you avoid harsh skin-care products. If you are one of the rare lucky people that have none of these issues, you probably still want to use the gentlest possible products on your skin. You would be wise, for example, to avoid products with formaldehyde, fragrances, 1-4, dioxane (which is actually a known carcinogen), synthetic colors, phthalates, and toluene for example. All of these have some level of toxicity or are irritants. Lists of ingredients will always be found on the labels of any cosmetic, skin, or personal care product and the potential side effects of those ingredients can be found by doing a little bit of research.
Is Hypoallergenic Enough?You might assume that a label identifying a product as hypoallergenic means that it is gentle on your skin. Most people associate this term with a product that will not cause an allergic reaction, and by association that it is not harsh. While this was the intent of the original FDA regulations for labeling cosmetics and skin care products, there is no consistency in how the label is applied or true governmental oversight. Additionally, almost any ingredient can cause a reaction in someone and you may never know exactly what will trigger you. However, you can be a smart consumer and use products that do not usually cause reactions in the vast majority of people. So it's possible that hypoallergenic products may still be too harsh for your skin.
Use the Label and Other Sources of Information to Achieve Safe Beauty
If your product is scientifically formulated to be effective and gentle you should be able to find information about that on the label, packaging, or company website. The label will also help you understand if the product contains good quality natural and organic plant-based compounds. Since all labels are required to list their ingredients in order of percentage, with the largest quantity being the first on the list, it is easy to identify what it is made of. Products that are created by, endorsed by, and used by dermatologists can also be a strong indication of beauty safety. Consumer Affairs maintains buyer guides, including skin care products, meant to help you to sort through which harsh synthetic ingredients are being used in particular products.
Essentially, even if you have not had a reaction to the products you use, you owe it to yourself to find out what is in that product and what kind of reaction it could cause. This will help you determine if you are using something that is more harsh than you need, or are willing to accept, in order to achieve the beauty results you want. Using healthier and more nourishing natural products will make your skin thank you.