As this year is already proving to be one of the worst allergy seasons on record, I wanted to discuss a topic that is critical to understand. Allergy sufferers can actually make their allergies or skin reactions (like hives, rashes, swollen eyes, etc) worse, if they don’t understand the ingredients within their beauty products. And I’m talking head to toe too. From my days in the spa, working with a brand that starts with an “A”, and is derived from the word “Ayurveda”, it was very common for me to come across clients who suffered from allergic reactions to their beauty products and would ask questions during treatments. Plus, I am one of them, myself.
I have to laugh sometimes when I hear the comment “I use all-natural products, because they’re safer.” Nope, sorry, not true. For example, poison ivy and poison oak are natural substances. A bee sting is a natural substance. And all of these can cause serious allergic reactions. If you suffer from hay fever, pollen, or have plant-based allergic reactions (like grasses or flowers), my suggestion is to stay away from “Botanical” or “natural” beauty brands since their most active ingredients are coming from plants that may cause you a reaction. Same with bee-derived products. In summer, my mother has to carry an EpiPen with her in case she gets stung by a bee, to avoid a visit to the emergency room. Therefore, she also avoids any products with beeswax, bee venom, or royal jelly – all of which are commonly used ingredients , and the main focus for a very well-known national brand. Allergic to shellfish? Watch out for marine-based beauty brands. Have a nut or soy allergy? Read the labels of your products for nut butters or soy protein.
I’m not bashing or degrading all-natural or organic beauty brands. Having worked for several of them, I can tell you that there are better ways to do your homework in finding great products to use, rather than just trusting a brand’s marketing. I was introduced to the Environmental Working Group in beauty school, back in 2000, and their “Skin Deep Guide” has become my bible in helping me make good decisions in trying everything from shampoo to lip gloss. You can access the product information at http://www.ewg.org, and clicking on the Skin Deep Guide to enter searches of brands or products. Or my favorite is using their free app, which allows your phone to scan a product’s barcode. For example, one of the most effective, gentle, and least allergen-containing beauty products on the market is Dove Sensitive Skin bar soap. EWG gives it a rating of 2 out of 10, with being closest to zero as optimal. Check it out for yourself, especially if you are an allergy sufferer. It will help you make decisions best for you and your family.