How to Read Ingredient Labels to Check for Allergens: Part II
Toiletries, Cosmetics, & Laundry Products
Do you know what ingredients to avoid when it comes to eczema allergens?
In Part I of our look at How to Read Ingredient Labels, we looked at reading food labels for potential allergens that trigger eczema. But what about topical products, like toiletries, cosmetics, and laundry products? Personal care products and cosmetics are filled with potential allergens that can cause eczema or increase eczema symptoms. These can be hidden in soaps, cosmetics, lip balms, body creams, sunscreens, cosmetics, detergents, and deodorants. There are many substances that include lubricants, thickening agents, and artificial color. There are certain ingredients that you really never want to come in contact with your skin if you have eczema. Here is a look at what to be careful of when you look at product labels.
The first thing to look for in a product is to check to make sure that it’s hypoallergenic. These products are designed specifically for people with eczema and sensitive skin.
Next, check for fragrance. Generally speaking, fewer ingredients are better, and the scented agents that are added to your products only add to the ingredient list. In fact, fragrance is the leading cause of allergic reaction from topical applications. Choose fragrance-free, perfume-free, and unscented whenever possible.
Once you’ve established that a product is hypoallergenic and fragrance-free, it’s time to check the ingredients.
Glycerin and Shea Butter are generally good ingredients to look for. Glycerin is a moisturizing ingredient, is non-toxic and prevents dry skin. Shea Butter is also very moisturizing. Lanolin is a third skin conditioner that’s found in many cosmetics that is a good option for many people, but it can cause itching, redness, and swelling around the eyes for others.
Watch out for preservatives. Makeup and toiletries that includes water must always include preservatives, which are used to prevent fungal and bacterial growth. You may react to some preservatives but not others, so trial and error is necessary. Paraben, for example, is a common preservative in cosmetics. You’ll notice that some products are marked paraben-free, but if the product contains water they may be using other preservatives instead. Phenoxyethanol is another example of a preservative that some (but not all) people may find is acceptable for their skin. Antibacterials may also be aggravating.
Be careful of other ingredients including:
- Balsam of Peru
- Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (aka. SLS)
Check out the list of products given the National Eczema Association's Seal of Acceptance at https://nationaleczema.org/eczema-products/. These are wonderful products to try if you or your child has eczema. If you purchase your products at a store, learn to look for potential allergens in personal care products. There are ingredients like the ones listed here that are definite red flags, and there may be additional ingredients that don’t agree with you personally. Read labels carefully, and get to know what works for you—and what doesn’t. Your skin will thank you!