Sensitive skin? Avoid irritants that might harm
The skin is the body’s largest organ – it functions to regulate our temperature, manage water and nutrient levels and act as a protective shield against some external harms. Because some substances can be absorbed into your bloodstream through your skin, it’s important to be mindful of the ingredients in the products that we use on it.
Sensitive skin is a common condition characterised by symptoms of inflammation including redness, itching, dryness and blisters, which are often a response to contact with irritants.
There are more than 84,000 chemicals available for commercial use in the manufacture of every day products we buy, and globally up to 1,000 new ones are being developed every year. It often isn’t until long after they’ve been available that links are made between some of these chemicals and health concerns such as skin irritations and allergies.
We’ve put together a list of some of the main potential irritants that are frequently found in everyday products. By reading labels and identifying them, you can make more informed choices when it comes to the products you are using at home.
Parabens are preservatives used in personal care products to extend their shelf life. They are easily absorbed by the skin, and are known to cause irritations and allergic reactions. Parabens are also endocrine disruptors, which means they have an adverse effect on the normal functioning of hormones within the body.
CAPB is a chemical found in many personal care products including shampoo, toothpaste and body wash, and it’s used to create a foamy consistency. Because it’s derived from plant oils it is often marketed as “natural”, however, it is a harsh skin and eye irritant.
Triclosan is an antimicrobial ingredient often used in personal care products to kill bacteria. It’s irritating to the skin and eyes and has also been linked to more severe health concerns including endocrine and immune system disruption.
Dimethicone belongs to the silicone family and it’s commonly used to enhance the “slippery feel” of body products including moisturisers and hair conditioner. Once you put silicones on your hair and skin, they can form a plastic like barrier, which is difficult to remove, disrupting the skins’ acid mantle.
Fragrances are added to most products we use and more than 95% of these are synthetic formulations derived from petroleum, and they can contain anywhere between 100-350 different chemicals. At ecostore, we use essential oils and fractions extracted from plants, but even these can be irritating for sensitive people with allergies. Fragrance is one of the most common allergy triggers, so if you are sensitive to fragrance, you may like to try our fragrance free collection
Unlike cosmetics and personal care products, cleaning supplies are not required to disclose a full list of ingredients. Because of this, some manufacturers use potentially harmful chemicals that can cause skin irritations and allergic reactions because they also happen to clean well. It’s hard to make better choices without full disclosure, however, there are still some easy steps you can take to avoid inflammation.
Here’s our top five tips for taking care of sensitive skin:
1. Choose plant and mineral based cleaners that include a full list of ingredients on pack.
Although this isn’t a legal requirement, some brands including ecostore do this to empower customers to make healthier choices.
2. Wash new clothing and bed linen before use.
New clothing and bedding can sometimes be dressed in chemicals that might not be so good for our health. Because these items spend a lot of time against the skin, we think it’s a good idea to choose organic linen where possible, and wash new items before they’re worn.
3. Protect yourself from the elements.
Excessive exposure to environmental factors like the sun and wind as well as very hot or cold climates can irritate delicate skin.
4. Remember that overly frequent washing can do more harm than good.
Too much hand washing can strip our natural protective oils and cause sensitive skin to react.
5. Always remove makeup before going to bed
Make it a habit to wash your face before bed, as sensitive skin can be irritated by dirt and makeup that hasn’t been properly removed. Your body regenerates itself during sleep, so it’s important to allow your skin to do this without being covered in product.
If you have any other tried and tested solutions for sensitive skin care, leave us a comment below.