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Featured Skin

For Sensitive Skin, Is Sticking To One Brand Really Safer or a Marketing Ploy?

Marcie Mom from EczemaBlues.com interviews Laura, CEO of VMV Hypoallergenics, to find out more about product claims and why they’re important when choosing your skin care…particularly if you and/or your child have eczema.

Is it really not a good idea to use different brands? Or is this just a way for companies to keep customers away from the competition? 

A:  Both ūüôā Companies of course want customers to stay with them. But there are actual risks when using lots of different products from various brands, particularly if you have very sensitive skin.

I read that there is a possibility of cross reactions between different companies‚Äô products. Is there a way for a parent to compare the ingredients and assess if there‚Äôs a high likelihood of this?

A:  That’s one of the risks, for sure. Even if you could compare ingredients, that may not be enough because while the ingredients may look the same, they may not be exactly the same.

Cross reactants require some knowledge of chemistry. You‚Äôd need to know that if you patch tested positive to propolis, you might not be able to use beeswax, for example. Or that while green tea is sometimes categorized under “botanicals,” pure green tea is not a top contact allergen.

Some ingredients contain allergens in the raw material. For example, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil is not an allergen. If you see “Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil” listed as an ingredient, however, this would not tell you if the coconut oil is pure, virgin, or organic, or if it is RBD (Refined, Bleached, Deodorized) coconut oil (which has had reports of allergies to it), or if the oil has trace amounts of fragrance present in the raw material. None of this information is required to be disclosed in the ingredients list. Only the INCI (International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients) name of the ingredient itself is required, not the breakdown of the raw material, its purity, or its quality.

Especially for products made by brands who outsource manufacturing (which many do), it would be close to impossible to find out whether the product was mixed or stored in containers shared with other formulations that contain fragrance or other allergens. Some of these allergens leave residue that can be difficult to fully remove without very strong cleaners and disinfectants…many of which contain allergens or irritants (like chlorine) themselves.

Another reason that using lots of products from different brands can be risky is just the quantity of factors to consider. When a reaction occurs, a dermatologist will ask you for a thorough history. One question that’s sure to be there is ‚Äúwhat products are you using‚ÄĚ? The more products you list, the harder it is to determine what is actually causing the reaction. And again, just because none of your allergens are listed in the products’ ingredients lists doesn’t mean they’re not hidden in the raw materials or get to the formulation in other ways, like mixing and storage.

We get lots of customers who ask us if they can use one of our products along with a product from another company. We always say that we can’t answer that question. I think it may be irresponsible for us to guess. We do not outsource any of our R&D, research, clinical studies, or manufacturing, so we can answer for our products and processes. We know where we source our ingredients, their raw materials, and their quality. We know how our plant is cleaned and how materials are stored. This is information that we simply would not be able to get from another company. Sticking to one brand (ours or someone else‚Äôs) at least gives you the advantage of customer support that is familiar with all the products they offer, everything that went into them, and how they were made…particularly if the brand does not outsource its manufacturing.


This article was originally published in eczemablues.com as one of a multi-part series focused on understanding and using products for sensitive skin. Inspired by her daughter Marcie who had eczema from two weeks old, Mei (aka MarcieMom) started EczemaBlues.com with the mission to turn eczema blues to bliss. In this series of interviews, MarcieMom interviews Laura, CEO of VMV Hypoallergenics, to learn more about product claims when choosing products to care for skin with eczema.

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Featured Skin

Why Virgin Coconut Oil Is So Great for Eczema

Marcie Mom from¬†EczemaBlues.com¬†interviews Laura, CEO of¬†VMV Hypoallergenics,¬†to find out more about product¬†claims and why they’re important when choosing your skin care…particularly if you and/or your child have eczema.

I read with interest that your products contain¬†certified organic virgin coconut oil and¬†monolaurin¬†(derived from coconut oil) as, among other things,¬†a substitute for¬†parabens.¬†Do all products containing coconut oil have the same antibacterial, antiviral and disinfectant properties that your products have? Could the “wrong” coconut oil¬†be bad for your skin?

A: ¬†Let me tackle all that one by one…

Yes, most of our products contain certified organic virgin coconut oil (VCO) and coconut-derived monolaurin…

Yes, in part as a substitute for preservatives, not just parabens. I should also point out that our proprietary preservative system that replaces preservatives¬†is not just¬†monolaurin. It‚Äôs¬†a delicately balanced mix of a few¬†ingredients. It‚Äôs a lot of work, I won’t lie¬†‚ÄĒ saving the world’s skin isn’t easy but it’s what we do, and we love the challenge¬†ūüôā

And you’re right, some of the other reasons they’re there is because they provide clinically-proven antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal benefits without the common side effects like increased tolerance to treatment or dryness.¬†Yet other reasons they’re there include as anti-inflammatories because eczema is an inflammatory condition, and to protect the skin’s important barrier layer (which tends to be damaged in conditions like eczema). They also feel phenomenal on the skin and are wonderful moisturizers.

Does Any Product With Coconut Oil Provide Antimicrobial Protection?

Coconut oil in any product should provide some antimicrobial benefits, but how much depends on the type of coconut oil. Virgin coconut oil is definitely better but not the end game. Many “VCOs” are extracted or processed with heat (one used to be able to tell this quickly by smelling the oil…but now masking fragrances are added to mimic the purer oil which has less of an odor), which can lessen these benefits. Which brings us to the answer to your last question…

The Type of VCO Matters

Not all VCOs are created equal. VCOs are sometimes extracted with heat or allergenic chemicals, or stored in containers also used to store or move other products with allergens. This explains why the only reactions to coconut oil reported medical literature are to RBD (Refined, Bleached, Deodorized) coconut oil. Certified organic VCO is a better bet, for sure, as it is not an allergen and will have been checked to confirm organicity and lack of additives. But we of course can only vouch for the one we produce because we control it from seed to bottle, and it is the oil with which all our published clinical studies are done.

In summary, we use virgin coconut oil so much for skin with eczema because the skin’s barrier layer becomes compromised in eczematous skin. VCO provides barrier repair like virgin coconut oil.¬†Daily use of VCO can help prevent flare-ups.¬†VCO can also help¬†skin quickly after a flare. Early on, apply virgin coconut oil (VCO) to soften the crust as it forms (the crust makes the skin dry, hard and itchy). Keep applying the oil for occlusion, giving skin a secondary barrier against water loss. We have an allergen-free collection of multitasking Mom & Baby care that can help. This post on a regimen for kids with eczema is a great read, as is¬†Top Recommendations For Patients With Eczema. And don’t forget to follow¬†your doctor’s advice!


This article was originally published in eczemablues.com as one of a multi-part series focused on understanding and using products for sensitive skin. Inspired by her daughter Marcie who had eczema from two weeks old, Mei (aka MarcieMom) started EczemaBlues.com with the mission to turn eczema blues to bliss. In this series of interviews, MarcieMom interviews Laura, CEO of VMV Hypoallergenics, to learn more about product claims when choosing products to care for skin with eczema.

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Featured Skin

Is “X-Ingredient-Free” Really Safer?

Marcie Mom from¬†EczemaBlues.com¬†interviews Laura, CEO of¬†VMV Hypoallergenics,¬†to find out more about product¬†claims and why they’re important when choosing your skin care…particularly if you or your child has¬†eczema.

So many products claim “X-FREE!” and there’s lots online about ingredients that are toxic or otherwise harmful. What’s real?¬†Should parents use a product that says “X-Free”?

A:¬†It depends on the “X.” ūüôā¬†A lot of marketing-speak says ‚Äúfree this‚ÄĚ and ‚Äúfree that‚ÄĚ but¬†unless you‚Äôve really done your homework and have an expert-level understanding of ingredients and allergens, you might¬†not be able to correctly¬†judge:

  • If¬†the offending ingredient is indeed absent ‚ÄĒ it could be present but listed¬†with¬†a name you do not recognize;
  • If cross reactants or related ingredients are present ‚ÄĒ which can cause the same problems as the “X” in “X-Free”;¬†or
  • Whether the omitted ingredient is harmful to begin with.

‚ÄúX-FREE!‚ÄĚ is a powerful marketing phrase on its own whether or not it has objective merit. That is, “X-Free”¬†makes the product sound safer whether or not it¬†is. In some cases, the X could actually be a beneficial ingredient…but tagging “free” onto it immediately makes it sound sinister.

One¬†thing that might help is if the “X” in “X-free” is more specific because it could imply that the manufacturer is being really¬†careful about what they’re claiming. But this, as you’ll see below, is not always the case.

Here are some¬†examples of how the “ingredient-free” claim might not be so straightforward:

“Sulfate-Free” or “SLS-Free”

“Sulfate-free‚ÄĚ sounds safer for allergic or eczematous skin but¬†sulfates aren‚Äôt allergens¬†so their omission might¬†not be necessary. Importantly, many of the ingredients used to replace¬†sulfates are published contact allergens and are¬†more likely to cause skin and scalp problems. ‚ÄúAmido-amine‚ÄĚ surfactants, for example, like CocAMIDE-Dea, CocAMIDOpropyl-Betaine, and CocAMIDOpropyl Hydroxysultaine are common allergens¬†and are frequently¬†used ¬†in¬†‚ÄúSulfate-Free” cleansers and shampoos. So if you’re looking for more hypoallergenic products that are safer for extremely sensitive skin, “SLS-Free” may be exactly what not to choose if they contain “amid-amines” instead.

“SLS-Free” is better because it’s more specific. But¬†there are¬†two ingredients with the initials SLS: Sodium¬†LauRYL Sulfate and Sodium¬†LaurETH¬†Sulfate. Neither are common contact allergens but the former (laurYL)¬†is a well-known skin irritant. The latter (laurETH) can also be an irritant but far less so, and particularly in lower concentrations.

“Free of Cancer-Causing Ingredients”

When you read a lot about ingredients that “cause cancer‚ÄĚ, it‚Äôs natural to worry. These claims are serious and you don‚Äôt want to take them lightly. However, it is important to remember that some of these reports are skewed to be sensational ‚ÄĒ they may not be balanced. For instance, much of the evidence of the¬†carcinogenicity¬†of certain ingredients is determined in laboratory experiments with animals fed the ingredient in very high doses (sometimes the equivalent of the animal‚Äôs body weight and the equivalent of a lifetime of consumption at these doses).¬†Some¬†of the same ingredients used in cosmetics are present¬†in minuscule or even trace amounts and in molecular sizes that are too large to penetrate the dermis, much less get to the bloodstream.¬†An example would be¬†parabens. We stopped using them because they are allergens, not because of the cancer panic. There simply is not enough to go on. Both the¬†US FDA and American Cancer Society (ACS) independently point out that the study that found parabens in breast tumors does not conclude that parabens caused the tumors. The ACS states, ‚ÄúThe study did not show that parabens caused or contributed to breast cancer development in these cases‚ÄĒit only showed that they were there. What this means is not yet clear.”

What causes cancer is a complex question. Birth control pills were once discouraged to prevent breast cancer, but newer studies show that they may prevent other types of cancer in women. If you have been treated for cancer, trust your oncologist because cancer ‚ÄĒ even the same type of cancer ‚ÄĒ is not the same for everyone. Ask your doctor¬†what skincare and makeup ingredients you can feel safe using. They should be able to guide you better based on the ingredients themselves, the concentrations normally found¬†in cosmetics, and your particular cancer and history.

“Mineral Oil-Free”

Mineral oil is an excellent ingredient that has gotten a bad reputation. It is NOT an allergen and is a dermatological staple. Ask any dermatologist and they’ll tell you mineral oil is a go-to, reliable hydrator even for extremely sensitive skin and even for sensitive areas like the genitalia. There are some reports of comedogenicity but it is otherwise a reliable moisturizer.

“Alcohol-Free”

Many of us think that alcohol is a liquid that dries out the skin but this is not the case. Some alcohols should be avoided, but many alcohols are actually safe and¬†even¬†good for the skin. “Alcohol” is merely a categorization based on atomic structure. Most alcohols are waxes (and waxes aren‚Äôt drying). Sperm oil, jojoba, rapeseed, mustard, tallow, beeswax, and many other plant ingredients, for example, are alcohols.

If a product says “alcohol-free,” what does that mean?¬†Methyl alcohol (‚Äúwood alcohol‚ÄĚ) is derived from methanol. Used for industrial and automotive purposes, it is poisonous on the skin and is not approved for cosmetic applications.¬†Short-chain fatty alcohols are generally considered eye irritants, while long-chain alcohols are not. Benzyl alcohol is related to fragrance and is an allergen. Cinnamic alcohol is a fragrance and an allergen. “Alcohol-free” in these cases¬†is a good thing ‚ÄĒ in the case of methyl alcohol, it would be illegal for a product to contain it.

But what about lanolin?¬†This fatty substance from sheep‚Äôs wool is an alcohol, is not drying, is¬†highly moisturizing, but is a common contact allergen. Because the¬†“alcohol-free” claim seems to target consumers looking for “non-drying” products (which is an important concern for very dry or allergic skin) and because “alcohol-free” is not a regulated claim,¬†lanolin could be present in an “alcohol-free” product.¬†If¬†you’re allergic to lanolin and it is present in an¬†“alcohol-free”¬†product, “alcohol-free” wouldn’t be helpful to you at all. In this case, “lanolin-free,” “allergen-free,” or “non-drying” would serve you better.

In yet other cases, “alcohol-free” may be a not-so-great thing.¬†Ethyl alcohol is not known to cause irritations. Isopropyl alcohol is ‚Äúgood‚ÄĚ in that it is a reliable antiseptic, it is not a common contact allergen, and it¬†is accepted for cosmetics. Stearyl and cetearyl alcohol are waxes needed by many formulations to mix and, based on the latest publication of common allergens, are not known to irritate skin. Other alcohols are beneficial to skin, like those from coconut and palm oils. “Alcohol-free” in these cases is a disadvantage.

“Fragrance-Free”

As a rule, this claim is important for those with contact dermatitis or skin allergies. But even a product that says “fragrance-free” may contain fragrances or products that are related to fragrance. As dermatologist¬†Dr. Rajana Katta shares,

Even using products labeled ‚Äúfragrance-free‚ÄĚ or ‚Äúunscented‚ÄĚ may not help, as some of these can legally contain fragrance additives. In fact, a recent US study that looked at best-selling body moisturizers found that for products that claimed to be ‚Äúfragrance free,” 45% of these products actually contained at least 1 fragrance cross-reactor or botanical ingredient.

Yes, definitely, ‚Äúfragrance-free‚ÄĚ is important¬†but¬†are you confident that you know all the chemical names of all substances¬†that are fragrances or¬†masking fragrances, or that cross-react with/are related to them (e.g.¬†cinnamic¬†alcohol)?

At VMV Hypoallergenics, we claim “all-types-of-fragrance-free” to indicate that a formulation is free of fragrances, scents, masking fragrances, and ingredients that are not called fragrances but are related to them.

“Free of Toxic Ingredients”

This claim makes¬†us¬†uncomfortable because we feel that it fuels an inaccurate myth of toxicity in skincare and makeup. The cosmetics industry is¬†regulated in most markets¬†and¬†nothing‚ÄĚtoxic‚ÄĚ in the real sense of the word (poisonous) is allowed in cosmetics.¬†Ingredients (and often their concentrations) are reviewed by regulators to ensure that nothing toxic is included¬†in cosmetics as these products¬†are intended for use on¬†the skin, which is¬†a major organ.

“Allergen-Free”

This claim seems clearer but neither “allergen-free” nor “hypoallergenic‚ÄĚ are¬†regulated claims. Many ingredients touted for sensitive skin are actually highly allergenic. Some natural and/or organic ingredients are allergens, too. Which is why at VMV, we state “validated as hypoallergenic” which means that we patch test all our ingredients and final formulations. We also rate how many allergens are included (or not) in a formulation. Furthermore, the¬†ingredients list highlights any allergens that are in the formulation so that you know whether you can use the product ‚ÄĒ if it contains an allergen but not one of yours, it should be safe to use.

When you see “allergen-free,” make sure that the brand is referring to¬†proven and published common contact allergens. The¬†North American Contact Dermatitis Group¬†and¬†European Surveillance System on Contact Allergies¬†patch test over 20,000 people in multiple countries to compile their lists of allergens. They regularly publish their findings and, crucially, they update these lists every few years. These lists are statistically relevant, consistently updated, and put together by two of the most respected groups of doctors in the world who concentrate on allergens and contact dermatitis. This allergen list is what our¬†VH-Rating¬†System uses and, considering we‚Äôve had less than 0.1% reported reactions in 30 years, it‚Äôs quite reliable.

Allergenicity is different for everyone; we have different tolerances. But what VMV has done is to validate the claim (by patch tests and using an exclusion list based on common allergens published by objective, independent sources) and to standardize how the claim is used (with a clear, simple method of allergen omission). This decreases the probability of allergic reactions and is a valid, evidenced-based claim.


This article was originally published in eczemablues.com as one of a multi-part series focused on understanding and using products for sensitive skin. Inspired by her daughter Marcie who had eczema from two weeks old, Mei (aka MarcieMom) started EczemaBlues.com with the mission to turn eczema blues to bliss. In this series of interviews, MarcieMom interviews Laura, CEO of VMV Hypoallergenics, to learn more about product claims when choosing products to care for skin with eczema.

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Featured Skin

Is Cheap Skincare Ok For Eczema? How To Care For Sensitive Skin On a Tight Budget

Marcie Mom from¬†EczemaBlues.com¬†interviews Laura, CEO of¬†VMV Hypoallergenics,¬†to find out more about product¬†claims and why they’re important when choosing your skin care…particularly if you or your child have eczema.

I have to rebuild my child’s¬†entire stash of products. Should parents on a tight budget¬†start their¬†child on the cheapest skincare¬†available? Is it possible to properly care for sensitive¬†skin on a tight budget?

A:¬†This is a great question for anyone. It¬†is possible to care for eczema and other sensitive skin conditions when you’re on a tight budget if you know what to look for: reputation, clinical proof, and validated safety. These 5¬†best practices can save you a lot while still keeping your sensitive skin well cared for:

1)¬†Don’t Let Price Be Your Only Guide.

For sensitive skin,¬†price ‚ÄĒ high or low ‚ÄĒ¬†is not¬†the best way to choose a product:

  • Cosmetic ingredients can be¬†cheaper or costlier due to the¬†rarity, quality, purity, and source of the ingredients. Most businesses need to be profitable in order to operate. We can therefore assume that very affordable brands are tightly controlling costs in all areas,¬†including ingredients. This is not necessarily “bad” but cheaper ingredients¬†can be¬†less pure or of a lower quality than their more expensive counterparts.
  • On the other hand,¬†expensive brands might use the same cheaper ingredients but choose to have a higher profit margin. Pricier¬†does not mean higher quality.
  • Sensitive or complex skin conditions tend to need higher-quality, specifically-sourced (more stringent requirements for¬†the raw material), or less popularly-used ingredients. In general, this means more expensive ingredients.
  • Some¬†cheaper products use allergens to make them more appealing and repetitive contact with¬†allergens over time can break down sensitive skin’s already fragile (or damaged) barrier ‚ÄĒ as “Prioritize Prevention Over Treatment” below explains, protecting the skin’s barrier¬†is incredibly important. Some cheaper products¬†use¬†lots of fragrances¬†to cover up the sometimes stronger¬†scent of less-pure cosmetic ingredients. These products could also be¬†dyed to make them look more attractive and stand out more in their highly competitive market. Preservatives could be heaped on¬†in order to¬†help a product last much, much longer without special storage conditions (which many stores really like).

In summary: For very sensitive skin conditions that require a higher quality of ingredients and stricter¬†controls, I’d suggest ruling out the¬†bargain basement options.¬†Something needs to be sacrificed to make them that affordable. But I wouldn’t just reach for the most expensive products either. Instead, study the brand you’re considering well ‚ÄĒ look for legitimacy, safety, and reputation. Choose less products that might be more expensive but that are¬†multitasking, that last longer, that you can share at home, and that are proven to work. And prioritize prevention over anything else.

2) Less is More.

A best practice in hypoallergenicity is using products with few ingredients and using just a few¬†products in general. Perhaps your child’s hair and body shampoo is pricier than most, but you can save money but not¬†using a body soap. Pick the few, fundamental products that your child really needs.

The basics for babies and young children could be just 3 products:

  • Hair and Body Shampoo (which you can also use to launder baby’s clothing and linens)
  • Virgin Coconut Oil for face and body moisturizing (which can be used as a conditioner, too). If you’re on¬†a very tight¬†budget, choose pure mineral oil or pure petroleum jelly (pure meaning allergen-free: no preservatives, scents, dyes, etc.)
  • Steroid-Free Anti-Inflammatory Balm

All our products are formulated so that you don’t need a lot to get the benefits¬†they promise, which helps them last longer.

In summary: tight budget or not, sensitive skin needs LESS products, not more.
Just be hyper selective and maximize your minimalist collection by choosing…

2) Multitasking Ingredients and Products.

The right skincare formulation can meet multiple needs. As the list above shows, an ultra-gentle product can be an excellent hair and body shampoo, and even be used for laundry.

Virgin coconut oil (VCO) is a master multitasker. It’s a phenomenal daily moisturizer that doubles as a hair conditioner and triples as an anti-inflammatory for flares. VCO is a natural antimicrobial ‚ÄĒ it needs no preservation and is broken down by¬†lipases¬†of friendly skin bacteria into¬†monoglycerides¬†with antiseptic properties ‚ÄĒ so that it also¬†helps control microbial invasions that can occur in cracked skin.¬†And you can use it as a facial cleanser, makeup remover, on food, and more (check out these 12 uses of virgin coconut oil for mom and baby).

Also, share your care! Pretty much all our products are meant to be shared between parents and kids, siblings, and partners.

In summary: Don’t buy into marketing categorization that would have you believe that you need “male” or “female” products. Most extremely gentle formulations can be shared (ask the manufacturer and your doctor to be sure, especially with products for children). And if¬†you select wisely, the few products and ingredients that you do use will give you as many uses and benefits as a cabinet full of creams and ointments.

3) Prioritize Prevention Over Treatment.

Prevention is powerful.¬†In eczema and allergic skin, the top thing to care for is the skin’s barrier layer. If you are guided by nothing else, be guided by this:

No allergens, ever, and moisture-moisture-moisture.

In different forms of¬†eczemas, it is the skin’s outermost barrier layer that we need to pay attention to the most.

  • Genetic innate barrier dysfunction initiates¬†atopic dermatitis: in eczema, the skin’s barrier layer has an innate dysfunction and needs extra care to protect…this is where to focus.
  • An allergic or irritant reaction breaks down the barrier in contact dermatitis. This is why it is so important to avoid allergens and irritants as much as possible.
  • Food around the mouth area can physically act on the barrier to cause problems. Food and skin (and even pet) allergies are not the same. If food allergies are also an issue, see an allergist, get a prick test, and perhaps try an elimination diet with your doctor’s guidance. But for skin, a patch test is much more reliable, as is the avoidance of contact allergens. For skin with atopic dermatitis (eczema), the role of food isn’t so much its ingestion but its contact with the skin. For example,¬†lemon, lime, and citrus are top contact allergens and while someone who patch tested positive¬†to them might be able to eat them just fine, the skin around the mouth might experience a reaction.
  • Secondarily, bacteria/opportunistic microbes cause a cross-damaged barrier layer in all types of¬†eczemas. As the skin dries, cracks appear which are inviting to microbes. This can cause secondary infections which can worsen the dryness and itching. A skin-safe, non-allergenic antimicrobial like monolaurin would be ideal.

In summary: The few products that you do use should be hyper-focused on keeping¬†the skin’s barrier as intact as possible. Choose¬†the least irritating but most moisturizing and partially occluding products you can find without scents, preservatives, antibiotics, dyes and other common contact allergens.¬†Again: focus on allergen avoidance in everything, from skincare to clothing, laundry, hair care, everything. Browse through Allergen-Not An Allergen to check what some common contact allergens are, or use our products with the highest Validated Hypoallergenic Rating (VH-Number) which are free of all published contact allergens. You can also¬†drop us a private message on vmvhypoallergenics.com or Facebook with your patch test results¬†and we’ll customize recommendations for you based on your allergens and possible cross reactants.

4) Spend a Bit More Where It’s Really Worth It.

A patch test¬†isn’t cheap¬†but knowing precisely which contact allergens you need to avoid will save you so (so) much money and time and reactions. It’s worth it. Save-up-for-it worth it. Check with your doctor and¬†insurance to see if financial assistance is available for patch testing because it is just that valuable.

Safer, more specialized, high-quality products might be more expensive up front but save you lots over time. Using cheaper products with allergens could eventually trigger a reaction that requires more expensive recuperative care.

Topical steroids are inexpensive and deliver dramatic results…at first. But with continued use, they can thin the skin and become less effective. This can increase the dependence on¬†topical steroids, increase¬†the amount needed for relief, and¬†cause additional health problems that can be more difficult and expensive¬†to correct (including hospitalization during the rebound effect).

Our non-steroidal anti-inflammatories Boo-Boo Balm and¬†Red Better Calm-The-Heck-Down Balm are more expensive than steroid¬†ointments but they don’t cause serious health problems and¬†you only need a little at a time. Unlike¬†steroids, they¬†do not have increasing tolerances so you don’t need more and more of them to get the same results. Especially when¬†combined with proper prevention, they prevent flare-ups so effectively that you need them even less often. Importantly, in case an emergency occurs and¬†a steroid is needed, it would be limited to¬†once or twice in a year, which is much better for your health.

In summary: If you are highly selective about the few, multitasking products that you choose, you might be able to afford better-quality, safer products for your sensitive skin and still end up spending the same or less than buying a shopping cart full of cheaper formulations that could cause harm (and increased costs) in the long run.

We have an allergen-free collection of multitasking Mom & Baby care that can help. This post on a regimen for kids with eczema is a great read, as is¬†Top Recommendations For Patients With Eczema. And don’t forget to follow¬†your doctor’s advice!


This article was originally published in eczemablues.com as one of a multi-part series focused on understanding and using products for sensitive skin. Inspired by her daughter Marcie who had eczema from two weeks old, Mei (aka MarcieMom) started EczemaBlues.com with the mission to turn eczema blues to bliss. In this series of interviews, MarcieMom interviews Laura, CEO of VMV Hypoallergenics, to learn more about product claims when choosing products to care for skin with eczema.

Categories
Featured Skin

Cosmetics Ingredients: What ‚ÄĒ and How Much Of It ‚ÄĒ Is Really In a Product?

Marcie Mom from¬†EczemaBlues.com¬†interviews Laura, CEO of¬†VMV Hypoallergenics,¬†to find out more about product¬†claims and why they’re important when choosing your skin care…particularly if you or your child has¬†eczema.

Q: Is the Ingredients List on cosmetics packaging compulsory and regulated? Does the it cover all ingredients? Or can companies pick and choose what they want to reveal?

A:¬†In many countries,¬†cosmetics are regulated by the local Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or an equivalent governing¬†body. If regulated, the rule is usually that cosmetics must¬†list all ingredients, following a specified format, and must use¬†only the¬†INCI¬†(International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients) names of ingredients. A few countries do not require that ingredients be listed ‚ÄĒ in full or in part ‚ÄĒ and/or do not have requirements regarding the names used or formatting.

Q: Why is there no percentage beside each ingredient?  That way parents can compare and choose the product with the least amount of an allergen. Also, I read that if a product contains an allergen it might not trigger a reaction if its concentration is too low. I also read that some products use an exceptionally high concentration of certain irritants. How can consumers find out the concentration of an allergen or irritant in a product?

A: Concentrations¬†are not included in part¬†because of proprietary concerns¬†‚ÄĒ a¬†company would¬†not want its exact formulation copied and some FDAs have rules prohibiting the registration of the same formulation under different brand names. If a product is a drug, however, it usually does¬†have to disclose percentages, but only of the active ingredients.

An easy way to get an idea of how much of an ingredient is in the formulation is to look at where it is on the ingredients list. Many regulatory bodies require that ingredients be listed from most to least.

Finally, the percentage of an irritant or allergen is relevant mostly if someone only has an irritant reaction to it. Irritant reactions do have a relationship with the concentration of the ingredient, frequency of exposure, time on the skin, etc. For example, you could be using an allergen most of your life and not really react to it or just have mild irritant reactions like dryness. But if you are allergic to a substance or develop an allergy to it, any percentage of it for any amount of time on the skin will cause a reaction. Which is another reason why a patch test is so important.


This article was originally published in eczemablues.com as one of a multi-part series focused on understanding and using products for sensitive skin. Inspired by her daughter Marcie who had eczema from two weeks old, Mei (aka MarcieMom) started EczemaBlues.com with the mission to turn eczema blues to bliss. In this series of interviews, MarcieMom interviews Laura, CEO of VMV Hypoallergenics, to learn more about product claims when choosing products to care for skin with eczema.

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Featured Skin

Your Body Skin Deserves Your Love, Too!

You‚Äôre working so hard on your overall health: eating right, de-stressing, sleeping well, and exercising.¬†Don’t forget your skin!

Dermatologists will tell you that it’s not uncommon to see toned, glowing faces topping dry, lined, and spotted necks and chests. One tends to forget how often our hands are seen. Knees, elbows and thighs can look dull and aged, too. Read on for some simple suggestions to make your body skin feel as loved as your facial skin:

Bathing

Why use¬†gentle, creamy cleansers for the face but hard soaps that could strip a wok for your body? Try mild, liquid or cream lubricating cleansers for your body, too. Bar soaps, because of the way they’re made, can have very high pH-levels that can denature skin and strip skin of moisture.

Moisturize

Just as you “dew” your face, moisturize your body¬†daily with a light¬†hydrator like¬†Essence Hand + Body Smoother, a multi-beneficial product like our virgin coconut Know-It-Oil,¬†or even an active body skin therapy lotion like Re-Everything¬†for rejuvenation,¬†Id for body acne, or Illuminants+¬†for body skin brightening. And add a body spa treatment to your monthly facial.

dewtiful

Consider A Body Skin Treatment

As a jump-start to body skin health (or really, just because you deserve an hour in “skinvana”), check our our top body skin treatments for spring:

Coconut Drizzle Body Polish

You know how that coffee machine needs a good descaling after months of coffee making? Think of this sublimely buffing session as¬†your skin’s¬†spring descaling.¬†Our organic Know-It-Oil¬†virgin coconut oil is drizzled onto finely-ground coconut husk applied to the skin in long, smooth strokes¬†in¬†a ‚Äúdew‚ÄĚvinely gentle yet thorough exfoliating scrub.

This service also comes with a mini SuperSkin Facial¬†and soothing facial massage. After an √ľber relaxing hour, you emerge with luxuriously smooth skin and an enviable glow all over. If you‚Äôre looking for a service to banish really leave¬†winter behind, this is it ‚ÄĒ¬† the closest thing to a tropical island vacation in the city!

Hypoallergenic Waxing

“Shear” pleasure.

If you have hypersensitive skin, chances are the thought of hair removal is enough to make you shudder. If shaving or waxing is, to you, synonymous with irritations, redness and bumps, check out Hypoallergenic Waxing at the VMV Skin-Specialist Boutique in Soho. Our expert hair removal is done by our experienced estheticians with patch-tested, hypoallergenic wax. Skin is cared for pre- and post-waxing with our ultra-soothing, clinically-proven anti-microbial, moisturizing and anti-inflammatory remedies.

To book now, or for more information, call (212) 217 2762, or check out VMV.nyc.

For more on some of the common skin problems related to waxing, see The ‚ÄúWax‚ÄĚ Of My Tears.

In a rush? Grab your trusty razor but give your shaving experience an upgrade with the antioxidant rich, soothing, anti-inflammatory 1635 Shaving Line. These shaving-as-skincare concoctions are formulated to give you a smooth, close shave without rashes, bumps or other skin problems.

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Featured Skin

You Might Seriously Be Misunderstanding Cosmetics Ingredients ‚ÄĒ and Allergens!

Marcie Mom from EczemaBlues.com interviews Laura, CEO of VMV Hypoallergenics, to find out more about product claims and why they’re important when choosing your skin care…particularly if you or your child has eczema.

Q:  Many ingredients in cosmetics look similar. Is there a way to identify what type of ingredient a certain name suggests? For instance, are ‚Äėglycerin‚Äô, ‚Äėcapric triglyceride‚Äô, ‚Äėpalm glycerides‚Äô, ‚Äėcaprylyl glycol‚Äô, ‚Äėglycerylstearate SE‚Äô, ‚Äėglyceryl laurate‚Äô, ‚Äėglycol distearate‚Äô, ‚Äėbutylene glycol‚Äô, ‚Äėglycerylcocoate‚Äô related?

A: Unfortunately, unless you‚Äôre a chemist or decide to devote yourself to the pharmacological sciences, this is almost impossible to master for most consumers. There are some word roots that imply certain things. ‚ÄúGly‚ÄĚ, for example, implies a fat; ‚Äúose‚ÄĚ implies a sugar. But the other roots in each word also mean different things and can signify important differences.

Cocamidoproplyl Betaine

For example: cocamidoproplyl betaine is a surfactant and a top contact allergen. Coconut oil (cocas nucifera) is an oil and is not an allergen. Both have ‚Äúcoca‚ÄĚ in the name. In the former, it is not the coconut element that is the allergen but the substances used to process the coconut extracts (the ‚Äúamines‚ÄĚ) that make the ingredient allergenic. It’s the same case for cocamide dea.

Butylene Glycol

Another example: butylene glycol and propylene glycol both say ‚Äúglycol.‚ÄĚ But butylene glycol is a humectant and antioxidant and not an allergen…while propylene glycol is a formaldehyde-releasing preservative and an allergen.

SLS

Sodium LauRYL Sulfate and Sodium LaurETH Sulfate share lots of elements in their nomenclature. But SLS (lauRYL) is far more irritating than the SLES (laurETH), which is actually quite safe. Neither is an allergen but SLS is an irritant, with more irritant reactions reported with higher concentrations.

Alcohols

Some ingredients can be even more confusing, like alcohol. The word alcohol doesn’t appear in many ingredients that are alcohols, such as sperm oil, jojoba, rapeseed, mustard, tallow, beeswax, and many other plant ingredients. ‚ÄúAlcohol‚ÄĚ is a categorization of a substance based on its atoms. There are many alcohols that aren‚Äôt drying, and many aren‚Äôt even liquid. Most alcohols are waxes (and waxes aren‚Äôt drying). Stearyl alcohol and cetyl stearyl (also called cetearyl alcohol) are both emulsifying waxes that creams need in order for oil- and water-based ingredients to mix. Still other alcohols are beneficial (like, moisturizing!) to skin, like those from coconut and palm oils.

Allergens

In addition to understanding (and memorizing!) all the possible combinations of different chemical roots, one would need to memorize which are on the current contact allergen lists. The current lists now specify 109 common contact allergens (and the lists change every so often). Mastering the complexity of cosmetic ingredients isn’t something for the faint of heart. Dermatologists may not recognize an ingredient as a cross reactant of an allergen, and chemists may not realize that an otherwise fantastic ingredient (like vitamin E) is a top contact allergen.

This complexity is one of the main reasons why our founding dermatologist-dermatopathologist (my mom) created the VH-Number Rating System. If a patient gets a patch test, great: at least they‚Äôd know what to avoid. But even then, it’s not so clear. A common inclusion in patch tests is “fragrance mix,” which isn’t an ingredient. One would have to know what is in that mix and look for those specific ingredients in a label. Or one would have to know that benzyl alcohol, while a common ingredient in unscented products, is actually related to fragrance. With a VH-Number, consumers can immediately see if any common contact allergens are included in the formulation and ‚ÄĒ because the allergen is highlighted in the ingredients list for easy identification ‚ÄĒ if it’s one of your allergens or not.


This article was originally published in eczemablues.com as one of a multi-part series focused on understanding and using products for sensitive skin. Inspired by her daughter Marcie who had eczema from two weeks old, Mei (aka MarcieMom) started EczemaBlues.com with the mission to turn eczema blues to bliss. In this series of interviews, MarcieMom interviews Laura, CEO of VMV Hypoallergenics, to learn more about product claims when choosing products to care for skin with eczema.

Categories
Featured Skin

What Does “Suitable For Children” or “For Eczema” Mean In Skincare?

Marcie Mom from¬†EczemaBlues.com¬†interviews Laura, CEO of¬†VMV Hypoallergenics,¬†to find out more about product¬†claims and why they’re important when choosing your skin care…particularly if you or your child has¬†eczema.

Understanding Baby Skin and Eczema

Q: “Suitable for Children with Eczema.” These are the most important words¬†for a parent looking for products for their¬†child with eczema. When a¬†product is¬†labeled¬†(and prominently so) as specifically for¬†the use¬†of infants with eczema, we feel so much surer. Can you explain to us what “suitable for infants” and “suitable for eczema”¬†really mean, and if there is¬†a regulatory body that governs the use of these¬†terms on product packaging?

A:¬†It’s totally understandable that seeing that¬†claim on a package would make a parent feel more at ease about choosing the¬†product for their child. They’re not regulated terms, however. What might help is knowing a little bit more about baby skin.

Baby skin is formed and functioning from a very young age:¬†neonatal and even younger ‚ÄĒ in¬†utero¬†by the end of the¬†1st¬†trimester. But during the first few months of life, immunological functions are still undeveloped. For example,¬†atopic¬†dermatitis (aka eczema) is not often seen until after the¬†3rd¬†month of life because it is an allergic disease that needs immune-forming cells to make¬†IgE¬†immunoglobulin. Because infant skin is newer to the world, building up its defenses, and as the surface area of skin is greater in babies (they absorb anything topically applied more than adults), baby skin care should be very safe yet still protect against micro-organisms.

At VMV Hypoallergenics, when we claim that a formulation can be used on young skin, this means that the product takes into account baby skin’s newness and absorption, and is as safe as we can make it. It would, for instance,¬†contain¬†zero (or close to zero)¬†of all common contact allergens. It would also not contain¬†other ingredients that elicit¬†irritant responses or that have¬†other safety issues. We would also include baby skin-compatible ingredients like a very safe,¬†broad-spectrum (and non-drug) coconut-derived antimicrobial and organic virgin coconut oil. Monolaurin¬†is present in breast¬†milk¬†and virgin coconut oil is sometimes used as an additive to some infant supplements.

In terms of something being “suitable for eczema,” it helps to first know what eczema is, which is¬†atopic¬†dermatitis. I left the more detailed definition to my mother,¬†Dr. Verallo-Rowell, as this is her forte and I believe you and your readers would appreciate a doctor‚Äôs definition:

“Eczema is actually a more generalized term for any skin eruption characterized by edema (swelling) within the epidermis and dermis clinically seen as tiny itchy bubbles that ooze and become little bubbles or vesicles, even blisters. Then, exposed to the air, they dry up and become crusts. With chronicity, this wet phase may not be as obvious, and becomes replaced more by dry, thickened, very itchy patches and plaques.¬†Atopic¬†dermatitis is the prototype example of this process but it may be seen in other conditions such as allergic and irritant contact¬†or photocontact¬†dermatitis, eczematous drug eruption, and secondary reactions to a primary diagnosis.”

Because ‚Äúeczema‚ÄĚ is such¬†a general term, a specific diagnosis can be a powerful tool towards consistent and sustained management. A specific diagnosis usually also comes with an identification of the possible triggers for an individual‚Äôs flare-ups. Children can be patch tested but not infants. The alternative is frequent and controlled observation of what seems to cause eruptions and to practice strict prevention. This is also why it is so important to use few products‚Ķso it‚Äôs easier to observe what the trigger/s might be.

The many conditions that can fall under the mantle ‚Äúeczema‚ÄĚ all benefit from the same¬†ultra¬†safety that we would do for¬†hypoallergenic¬†baby products,¬†i.e. ZERO of all known allergens, etc. plus the inclusion of a very safe antibacterial-antiviral-antifungal in all formulations. Why?¬†With eczema, when the skin develops fissures or cracks, this becomes welcoming to opportunistic microorganisms to enter the skin, which can lead to or exacerbate itching and further dryness‚Ķwhich can lead to more cracks (which can lead to more infection) and more scratching¬†(which can spread infection)‚Ķmore risk of microorganisms, etc. in a vicious cycle. This is why we put the skin-safe but powerful antibacterial-antiviral-antifungal-anti-inflammatory (monolaurin) in all these products.

More¬†information can be found in¬†“What Is Eczema” and¬†My Baby Has Eczema¬†has excellent tips for babies in particular, including a¬†great daily care regimen!


This article was originally published in eczemablues.com as one of a multi-part series focused on understanding and using products for sensitive skin. Inspired by her daughter Marcie who had eczema from two weeks old, Mei (aka MarcieMom) started EczemaBlues.com with the mission to turn eczema blues to bliss. In this series of interviews, MarcieMom interviews Laura, CEO of VMV Hypoallergenics, to learn more about product claims when choosing products to care for skin with eczema.

Categories
Beauty Featured

Bold, Matte Lips: Instant Energy

Bold matte lips in everything from juicy oranges to deep berries light up outfits…and your mood!

Watch how Velvet Matte Lipstick in punchy hues like Copa, Flamingo and (shown on Marie, above) Babe lift your energy faster than a double espresso.

Your lips get a health boost, too with ingredients like green tea and virgin coconut oil!

Categories
Featured Skin

Natural Flower Extracts Can Be Allergenic?

Gorgeous as these flowers are, it‚Äôs important to remember that if you have very sensitive skin, even the most natural extracts and oils of flowers, fruits, and various plants can be allergenic. Many flowers¬†are on published allergen lists ‚ÄĒ individually, or as part of Fragrance Mixes. Other flower or plant oils are comedogenic, too (to learn about some¬†allergen flowers and plants, check out the Allergen, Not An Allergen tab on VMVInSKIN.com).

But isn’t natural safe?

“Natural‚ÄĚ is so¬†frequently associated with ‚Äúsafe‚ÄĚ that it may sound counterintuitive…but if you have a history of skin reactions, you might actually need to avoid natural skin products and cosmetics.

Less processed and organic foods are certainly healthier than their counterparts. But allergens can cause problems¬†no matter how natural their origin. Food and skin allergies don’t work in the same way (different cells are involved) but in terms of natural origin, the same warning applies: if you‚Äôre allergic to a food (say, peanuts or strawberries), you should avoid it¬†no matter how organic it is. In skincare or makeup, if you’re allergic to lavender, rose, or fragrance mixes in patch tests (which include moss and other plants), you should avoid them no matter how organic they are.

But I love natural things (sad face)…

Don’t we all! Blooms are beautiful to look at¬†and be around,¬†and it would be a shame to avoid them if you don’t need to. If you have a history of¬†sensitive skin, don’t guess: random trial and error can cause more damage. Ask your dermatologist about¬†a¬†patch test¬†instead.

If your patch test does show a sensitivity to flowers and flower-related ingredients, you¬†don’t need to give up indulgence entirely. Our clinically-valid¬†spa treatments¬†are as “skindulgent” and sublime¬†as they are therapeutic. And¬†our skin-safe¬†Skintelligent Beauty Makeup¬†delivers beautiful, high-performance¬†pigments that wouldn’t be out of place at the botanical gardens¬†(without sacrificing your skin‚Äôs health). All that soothing care, vibrancy, and color sans the rashes, acne, and hyperpigmentation? Now that‚Äôs beautiful!

To shop our selection of hypoallergenic products, visit vmvhypoallergenics.com. Need help? Ask us in the comments section below, contact us by email, or drop us a private message on Facebook.

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