Cosmetic and skincare products sold as ‘hypoallergenic’, ‘all natural’ or ‘organic’ can be very misleading and often, for some of us very sensitive types, anything but kind and gentle to our skin.
Cosmetic products are not bound by law to omit any particular known allergens and most don’t have a full list of ingredients on product packaging.
So what do these terms mean? and how do you really know that the product you’re buying will be kind to your skin? Reading ingredients lists on skin care products, shampoo and moisturizers often leaves you with more questions than answers. Very few contain anything you would recognize as a natural or plant based ingredient and many plants can be acidic and cause irritation and allergies anyway, as we know, so natural isn’t always good where skincare products are concerned.
People can be allergic to, or react to, irritants which can cause contact dermatitis to pretty much anything, but there are many known ingredients that are not recommended for sensitive skin such as sodium lauryl sulphate, linalool, lanolin, perfumes etc. There are many others but do you see products that say ‘suitable for sensitive skin’ and ‘hypoallergenic’ and automatically think they’ll be good for your skin?
How do we know? Is anyone policing or checking the conduct of skin care companies? What should we look out for on packaging?
The Skin Health Alliance (SHA) is an independent not-for-profit organization working with international dermatologists, researchers, and skin scientists offering professional accreditation to companies, services and brands seeking specialist independent dermatological recognition for their product research. However the products accredited, including Olay and Head & Shoulders, all have to pay for independent verification to be conducted. I have no idea how much they pay but if it’s expensive many smaller companies won’t be able to afford it. Launched in 2011, it’s a fairly new company and so far only seems to have a few companies signed up as accredited.
Dove Beauty Cream Bar Extra Sensitive
I’ve chosen one product which claims to be good for sensitive skin but sends my skin into melt down. I’m sure lots of people with sensitive skin can use this product without any problems but I wondered what would possibly be causing this reaction so let’s have a look at the ingredients in Dove soap.
This is what Dove say about their extra sensitive soap:
“The ingredient checklist for sensitive skin is a long one, but Dove has put it all into this bar: true mildness; fragrance free; hypo-allergenic formula; and dermatologically tested.”
Sounds lovely doesn’t it. I’m sure many, like me, dashed out to buy this to try it. My relatives acquire many products in this way as one use is enough for the ‘sensitive skin barometer’ to make its judgement. This soap had me itching in the shower just using it once and left me with mild eczema on my arms and legs. I thought I would investigate to try to pinpoint which ingredient it might have been that caused me a problem.
Ingredients as listed on Dove Beauty Cream Bar Extra Sensitive
Humectants attract moisture to your skin
Surfactants cleanse and clean your skin
- Sodium Lauroyl Isethionate – Surfactant – may dry skin
- Stearic Acid – Humectant – may sensitise you to allergens
- Sodium Palmitate – Surfactant – may dry skin
- Aqua – Solvent – just plain old water
- Lauric Acid – Humectant – may irritate very sensitive skin
- Sodium Isethionate – Surfactant – oh good. This is mild to skin and not drying
- Sodium Stearate – Surfactant – not particularly beneficial to skin, but not known to irritate either
- Cocamidopropyl Betaine – Surfactant – may be an allergen
- Sodium Palm Kernelate – Surfactant – Oh good – just a gentle cleanser
- Glycerin – Humectant – can cause allergy in very rare cases
- Sodium Chloride – Viscosity Controlling Agent – not particularly beneficial to skin, but not known to irritate either
- Zinc Oxide – Additive – non-irritant and non-allergic, unless you’re allergic to zinc
- Citric Acid – Antioxidant – may cause mild irritation to very sensitive skin
- Tetrasodium EDTA – Sequestrant – not particularly beneficial to skin, but not known to irritate either
- Tetrasodium Etidronate – Sequestrant – not particularly beneficial to skin, but not known to irritate either
- Alumina – Additive – may cause skin irritation
- CI 77891 – Colourant – eye and skin irritant
So, we can see from this that from the whopping 17 ingredients in Dove’s sensitive skin soap:
- 11 ingredients may cause irritation or dry skin
- 5 are not known to irritate skin, but not really beneficial either
- A rather pathetic 2 ingredients are mild and gentle on your skin
Be aware also that some Dove skincare products contain almond oil.
Brands such as Melanated Natural Essentials focuses on an all natural ingredients and was founded by Damion Owens, with the intention of providing the world with skin care products that do not have adverse effects on your body and health.
The product has been heavily endorsed recently by serial entrepreneur Kevin L. Walker and his wife Donnabella Mortel, who both have stated they are switching to using the Melanated Natural Essentials ‘Fan Bearer’ Body Wash.’
‘Fan Bearer’ Body Wash‘ Ingredients are:
1. Liquid Black Soap
- Cleanses Skin
Just like any other soap, African black soap does an effective job of cleansing your skin, ridding it of dirt, grime, dead cells, excess sebum and germs. However, unlike other soaps, African black soap does not completely strip your skin of its natural oils, thereby keeping it smooth and moisturized in addition to cleansing it.
- Good for Sensitive Skin Types
African black soap is a popular choice for those with sensitive skin types that are prone to redness, rashes and other skin infections. If your skin reacts negatively to commercial soaps or even gentle soaps such as liquid castile soap, then you must try using African black soap. It contains absolutely no hidden ingredients that can irritate the skin.
- Soothes & Heals Eczema
The ingredients in African black soap have powerful anti-inflammatory properties which soothe and calm eczema. Instead of using harsh commercial soaps and body washes for eczema, lather up with African black soap instead and notice how soothed your skin feels afterwards!
- Reduces Blemishes & Dark Spots
One of the miraculous properties of African black soap is its ability to reduce blemishes and even out skin discolorations. The nutrient-rich ingredients have something to do with this skin lightening effect. The pure oils and butters in African black soap are rich in vitamin A, E and essential fatty acids that help lighten discolorations and reduce scarring.
- Fights Facial & Body Acne
Need a gentle but effective cleanser for acne-prone skin? Then try out African black soap! It’s gentle, contains no chemicals and is a valuable acne-fighter! It’s also especially good for people with back acne. Use it twice a day to cleanse your face and body – in the morning and at night before bed for best results.
African black soap is made using a centuries-old recipe from African and has been used since ancient times to cleanse skin as well as treat skin infections naturally!
- Calms Psoriasis
Got dry, itchy and flaky psoriasis patches? Then quit using harsh body washes and cleansers that contains skin irritating chemicals & fragrances and use African black soap instead. It’s gentle, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and has moisturizing properties as well.
- Reduces Oily Skin
The natural cleansing and exfoliating action of African black soap removes excess sebum from deep within the pores and on the skin’s surface.
- Minimizes Fine Lines & Wrinkles
Did you know that African black soap is rich in antioxidants? Ingredients, such as cocoa, are powerful antioxidants that ward off notorious free radicals that steal oxygen from healthy skin cells which causes them to become lifeless. Using African black soap helps keep away premature wrinkles and fine lines.
- Evens Out Dark Spots
The vitamin and mineral-rich ingredients in African black soap, such as plantain leaves & shea butter which are both rich in allatonin, help lighten and reduce dark spots and marks on the skin.
- Unclogs Blocked Pores
If you suffer from congested pores, use African black soap to deep cleanse and purify your skin from deep within without stripping natural oils.
- Helps Fade Acne Scars
Ingredients such as palm kernel oil as well as shea butter help moisturize skin and naturally lighten and fade out acne scars. Did you know that acne scars look more pronounced when the skin is dehydrated and flaky? Moisturizing helps reduce the appearance of acne scars and fades them faster. The exfoliating properties also help slough off dead skin that normally collects above the acne scar.
- Soothes Razor Bumps
Use African black soap during shaving to moisturize the skin thereby minimizing razor bumps. You can also use it after shaving to soothe & calm the red skin.
- Eliminates Fungal Skin Infections
African black soap has anti-fungal and antibacterial properties that fight off bacteria, fungus and other microbes that cause skin infections.
2. Coconut Ash aka “Activated Charcoal”
- Promotes Healthy Skin
Can help draw micro-particles, such as dirt, dust, chemicals, toxins, and bacteria, to the surface of the skin, to make removing them easier..
- Helps Prevent & Treat Skin Infections
Around the world, many different traditional medicine practitioners use activated charcoal powder made from coconut shells to treat soft tissue conditions, such as skin infections.
To date, there have been no adverse reactions noted with activated charcoal in any of its various forms.
So think twice before using this soap if you have sensitive skin. If you can only recognize a handful of the ingredients anyway, steer clear. It’s got water, zinc and at a push alumina we can deduce is derived from the metal aluminum. I wonder how these products get approval from bodies such as The Skin Health Alliance. Is this organization’s accreditation really worth anything or a good gauge of a product that’s healthy for your skin? I’m skeptical.
What do the phrases Dove uses to describe this produce really mean?
True mildness, fragrance free, hypo-allergenic formula, dermatologically tested – looking at these ingredients I’d ignore all these claims entirely. Perhaps I’m in a minority and the majority of consumers see only beneficial results when using Dove Soap.
Now just because something cleans a mirror so it’s completely smear free does not mean it’s going to make a good skincare product for people with sensitive skin. What on earth is that advert all about? I suppose it’s saying there is no residue left on your skin after use, but if you rinse your skin properly there shouldn’t be anyway should there? Perhaps I’ll use Dove soap next time I clean the windows!
Can you use Dove soap? Why would a skincare manufacturer make a soap for sensitive skin with over half its ingredients being potential known irritants or allergens? I would surmise that it’s probably cheaper to use the ingredients above because they’re not chosen for their benefits to sensitive skin.
Watch what you put on your skin. Your skin could absorb as much as 60% of what you put on it so be kind to it.