Ask VMV Skin

Rosacea: When Your Skin’s Always On Red Alert!

Rosacea can be frustrating because it is so multi-faceted, involving bright redness, dilated vessels, big pores, photosensitivity, extreme dryness and large cysts or acne  — and possibly, all at the same time.

There is strong evidence that rosacea is more common than once thought. Rosacea is frequently under-diagnosed or misdiagnosed and its multi-factorial nature suggests that rosacea may share common inflammatory pathways with other inflammatory skin conditions. The contradictory nature of some symptoms — acne and severe dryness — can make treatment difficult (many acne treatments are drying on purpose, for example). There is clearly a need for a better understanding of rosacea.

We asked our founding dermatologist-dermatopathologist for help….

What Is Rosacea?

Rosacea is the prototype of red facial skin. It is characterized by:

  • Centrofacial redness,
  • Fine to more prominently-dilated capillaries (telangiectasia),
  • Small bumps that become larger that may eventually develop into acne and thick skin.

One or more of the following is/are sufficient to make the diagnosis:

  • Flushing (transient erythema or redness),
  • Persistent redness,
  • Obvious dilated capillaries,
  • Papules (bumps without infected matter) or pustules (bumps with infected matter, like pimples).

Additional symptoms and signs to look for are: burning/stinging, facial edema (swelling), dryness, plaques (raised patches), eye redness, similar changes beyond the face, and phymatous (swelling, masses, or bulbous) changes of the nose.

Who Gets It?

Rosacea changes are often first seen at age 30, more among women, with men more often having the type that produces bulbous thickening (rhinophyma) of the nose and bumps. While rosacea is described as more common in fair-skinned individuals, there are no prevalence studies among Asians and darker skin types where it is known to exist but is also often unrecognized or misdiagnosed as contact, photocontact, seborrheic or atopic dermatitis.

Risk Factors/Causes 

Those who tend to get rosacea seem to have a combination of 1) genetic predisposition, plus 2) an environment/lifestyle that includes triggers like spicy foods and sun and light exposure, 3) certain microbes on the skin and/or in the stomach, and 4) higher-than-normal levels of naturally-occurring pro-inflammatories in their bodies. In detail, common risk factors include:

  • A tendency to flush (turn bright red) easily in response to:
  • Certain chemicals or natural ingredients,
  • Some foods, such as alcohol or hot (both temperature and spiciness) foods;
  • Psychological factors like stress or shame.
  • Chronic sun and light (including heat) exposure; and
  • Genes: having blood vessels that increasingly dilate as they respond to stimuli.

Other factors include micro-organisms:

  • Demodex folliculorum (mites that live in the hair follicles of susceptible people).
  • Helicobacter pylori infection in the digestive tract.

Another theory concerns vascular development, the flow capacity of blood vessels, and neuro-transmitter mechanisms.

Some of the newest research shows cathelicidins as the primary cause for the inflammation in rosacea. These proteins are important to our innate immunity but are also PRO inflammatory. Cathelicidins are markedly increased in skin with rosacea which makes it hyper-reactive.

Our Recommendations:

Articles contributed by doctors do not contain product recommendations for ethical reasons, and we at VMV Hypoallergenics believe in protecting the integrity of our resource physicians. Below are some products that we at feel can be recommended based on the preceding resource information. They are our “skinformed” selections based on the insights given above and not necessarily recommended by the medical author of the article.

Most rosacea treatments use steroids or azelaic acid to reduce inflammation and redness, both of which are not intended for long-term use and can be irritating or have other side effects. Other treatments rely solely on antioxidants, and several contain allergens which are proven to promote inflammation and dryness. We recommend…


The best way to deal with redness is to prevent it. Prevention is important in all health concerns. When it comes to rosacea and hyperreactive skin, it is vital. Your new mantra: “non-inflammatory”.

  • Get 7-8 hours of sleep, de-stress, and exercise regularly (daily, even if some days are just easy walks).
  • Improve your diet: avoid processed foods, white sugar, white rice, white pasta (switch to brown, whole-grain, and raw alternatives), soda, pre-packaged juices (even “health” juices), candies, and chips.
  • Choose very gentle, non-reactive, anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory products in all of your personal care:
    • Hair and body washing: Essence Skin-Saving Clark Hair & Body Wash and Conditioner.
    • Sun protection: Armada Baby 50+ or Armada Post-Procedure Barrier Cream 50+.
    • Makeup: Skintelligent Beauty.


Try steroid-free, anti-inflammatory, moisturizing, comforting Red Better Redness + Inflammation Calming System.

STEP 1: Red Better Deeply Soothing Cleansing Cream (nay, custard) is an ultra-gentle, comforting facial wash.

STEP 2: Red Better Daily Therapy Moisturizer for anti-inflammatory + anti-cathelicidin therapy plus rich, palliative yet non-pore-clogging hydration.

STEP 3: Armada Post-Procedure 50+, a purely physical (“inorganic”) sun + light screen for use both indoors and outdoors all year round. Redness conditions can be photosensitive and can flare up just from indoor light exposure. Its subtle (mineral) green tint offsets redness, too.

AS NEEDED: If you have acne, Red Better Spot Corrector is a uniquely non-drying (even hydrating and soothing!) quick-acting spot treatment. For flare-ups, try Red Better Flare-Up Balm.

FAN TIP: Keep your skincare in the refrigerator (especially soothing for red, hyperreactive skin)!

Red Alert Skin-Savers

The big deadline got moved up. Your toddler decided to see if your phone could swim. That curry was spicier than you thought. You’re finally meeting that big client after months of wooing. Despite your best efforts, this is too much for your skin and it happens: the full-scale(y), fire-engine-red flare-up.

Your doctor might prescribe a topical steroid for short-term use — follow these orders. But if you can’t get to your doctor, get relief with non-steroidal, non-irritating Red Better Flare-Up Balm. 

Other skin-emergency tips:

  • Dab Boo-Boo Balm on the tip of a wet towel wrapped around ice. Apply gently as a cold compress.
  • If it’s such a bad flare-up that plain water stings, stop all products for the duration of the flare-up. Favor darkness (turn off lights and avoid windows). Meditate, sleep, relax — self soothing is important to not feed the inflammatory eruption. And see your dermatologist.
  • If the reaction seems worse than a typical flare-up and you notice a rash that is spreading or difficulty breathing, get to the emergency room.


“Dew” More:

To shop our selection of validated hypoallergenic products, visit Need help? Leave a comment below, contact us by email, or drop us a private message on Facebook.

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.

Learn more:

About rosacea, see Can’t Calm Rosacea? #candew!and Put Angry Skin On “N-ice”.

To learn more about the VH-Rating System and hypoallergenicity, click here.

Ask VMV Skin

World Traveler Skincare: Top 9 Travel Skincare Tips

Ever gotten off a plane thinking, I wonder if my epidermis is in baggage claim? Or put mentholated vaginal wash on a rash after desperately trying (and failing) to navigate a pharmacy in a foreign country? What about an epic breakout the night before a big meeting or your best friend’s beach wedding? Skincare can’t be suspended just because you’re not at home. We asked the most peripatetic people we knew…how do you keep skin happy when traveling? Holly Byerly, Senior Esthetician and Brand Educator for VMV Hypoallegenics put together these 9 top skincare and beauty tips to help keep your skin in ship shape throughout your journey.


1. Passport. Phone. Regimen.


Pack your essentials. “It’s important to maintain your routine. Travel with the products that work well for you instead of making do with hotel amenities or nothing at all. Even a week away from your regular skin care can make you regret it.” This means keeping up your daily sunscreen, too!

Holly packs SuperSkin Care Hydra Balance Smart Cleanser, Hydra Balance Cleansing Scrub and Hydra Balance Smart Moisturizer, plus Know-It-Oil, The Big, Brave Boo-Boo Balm and Armada Face Cover 30 sunscreen.

2. Pre-Flight: Go Lightly.


Head to your flight with a clean and freshly hydrated face, free of foundation and powder.

If you feel too naked, opt for a few dabs of Skin-The-Buff Concealer, a Sheer Lip Tint and Ooh-La-Lash! Mascara.

3. Dress Code: Flexible-Smart-Comfortable.


Dress so you can relax but not be disheveled. Being put together upon arrival helps you look peppier than you might actually feel. Light, wrinkle-free fabrics can help you sleep better and prevent lines in skin, which can get particularly deep as our extremities swell mid flight. Leggings are a great option — besides being super comfortable and easy to dress up or down, they prevent the edges of your pants from coming into contact with bathroom floors. Keep a sweater handy for temperature fluctuations. A dressier jacket in your hand carried luggage instantly makes you look more structured (and gives you more pockets!).

4. The Only 8 Makeup Items You’ll Ever Need For Travel


I like to travel with as little as possible. With these mega-multitaskers, I can do just that!

#1 & 2: Skin-The-Bluff Concealers in No More Blues (the yellow is fundamental to camouflage tired undereyes!) and N1 (my shade).

#2: Antioxidant Powder Foundation. I like the flexibility: one product for light, medium or heavy coverage.

#3: (H)Eyebrow Eye + Brow Liner. Again, one product for brows and liner…even shadowing!

#4: Skin Bloom Blush in Bellini. I use this always-flattering-all-year shade not only as my cheek color, but also as an eyeshadow. It really wakes up tired skin and eyes!

#5: Two True Hues Eyeshadow Duo. This earthy duo works well with (H)Eyebrow & Bellini for, you guessed, it, multiple options (see a trend here?)

#6 & 7: Sheer Lip Tint in Bubblegum and Velvet Matte Lipstick in Light My Fire (because who can travel with just one lipstick??). I mix a bit of Boo-Boo Balm with Light My Fire for a less intense color in the daytime, and use it by itself for a more dramatic nighttime look.

#8: Ooh-La-Lash! Volumizing Mascara. This buildable, smear-proof formula is the traveler’s dream.

5. Soar! Not, SORE…


Especially on flights longer than 6 hours, make sure your carry-on has a couple of basic hydration boosters. Mid-way through, take a moment to cleanse and rehydrate your skin. I suggest mini sizes of your SuperSkin Care Cleanser, Know-It-Oil, and Boo-Boo Balm for an in-flight skin quench.

6. Healthy Hydration


Travel with an empty water bottle and refill frequently to make sure you drink plenty of water during your flight. This is especially true for kids who need even more hydration than we do.

Avoid sugary juices or sodas, coffee and alcohol — stick to water or soda water to keep your body and skin as hydrated as possible. This is important for the flight as well as post-flight recovery.

7. Bye-Bye, Boo-Boo’s!


Nicks, cracking skin, dry insides of nostrils…if you have to pack ONE thing, it’s The Big, Brave Boo-Boo Balm.

KID TIP: Make kids “captains” of specific tasks (“you’re the water captain” or “you’re the Boo-Boo Balm captain”). This builds their self esteem, makes them feel like part of the adventure (instead of like extra luggage), keeps them focused and can be surprisingly helpful!

8. Post-Flight Skincare:


When you have a moment to yourself, cleanse your skin and apply an easy-to-mix hydrating mask:

Pour equal parts Know-It-Oil and the SuperSkin Care Moisturizer for your skin type into a glass or bowl. Apply onto skin. Leave on for 20 minutes or overnight for a more intense skin treatment.

9. Jump start recovery:


You’d be amazed at what 60 minutes can “dew.”

One facial or spa treatment can mean instant refreshment and recovery. Traveling to San Francisco? Call (415) 255 9510 to book a facial or spa treatment with Holly at Hayes Valley Medical & Esthetics. Or call (212) 217 2762 to get your “dew” at our VMV Skin-Specialist Boutique in Soho if the big apple’s on your itinerary!


While we may not be able to control the weather, the lines or baggage handling, we can take command of our own smooth sailing!

Ask VMV Skin

Are Natural Ingredients Really Good For Sensitive Skin?

Yes and no. Yes because natural (or really, organic, which is a regulated term) means less processing. Less processing means less contaminants (like specific chemicals used in growing, storage, or extraction), additives (like flavors, colors, fragrance, or preservatives), or alterations (like bleaching or heating). Because many contaminants, additives, and alterations are common allergens, organic can mean less risk of an allergic reaction. No, natural ingredients are not necessarily good for sensitive skin because many natural extracts (although by no means all) are common allergens.

“But I was told to look for ‘hypoallergenic’ for my super sensitive skin…which means ‘natural,’ right?”

Natural does not mean hypoallergenic. In fact, the opposite is frequently true. Many natural ingredients are highly allergenic, such as fragrance oils, citrus, beeswax, fruit and flower extracts, tea tree oil, ylang, ylang, etc. The image above is a very small snapshot of many, many published studies on contact reactions and allergies to several natural ingredients.

Food and skin allergies should not be equated (because different cells are involved, you could be allergic to a food and still be able to use it as an ingredient in skincare, and vice versa — don’t experiment without your allergist’s guidance, however). But in both food and skin allergies, an ingredient’s level of “naturalness” isn’t necessarily what makes it allergenic. If you are allergic to strawberries, bee stings, dairy, mangoes, pollen, or dander, you should avoid them no matter how organic they are. In skincare and cosmetics, if your patch test shows that you are allergic to chrysanthemum, lavender, or citrus extracts, you should avoid them even if they are certified organic.

“But what if I’m committed to a completely natural, totally unprocessed lifestyle?”

This might be the goal, but it would be close to impossible to achieve. Almost anything in nature needs some type of processing to be used in skin care, so that they can be mixed and stabilized. Even if an ingredient is truly “raw,” it still probably underwent a little rudimentary processing. For example, virgin coconut oil needs to be pressed out from coconut meat. Strictly speaking, just the pressing is a type of processing. What you would need to know is what specific processing was done and how much of it was done. Our virgin coconut oil is certified organic from soil to tree, and is first-and-cold-pressed — meaning we basically just press the oil. Some other coconut oils are processed with heat which can alter some of the oil’s chemical makeup. Other coconut oils are processed with additives that can be allergens, which can leave traces in the oil and cause reactions (check out this helpful article in for more on virgin coconut oils).

In other natural ingredients, processing can yield surprising results. For example, the distillation process to make essential oils — even organic, “raw” oils for massages or scents — can create chemicals that did not exist in the original plant. And even if they were somehow processed not to create these new chemicals, many natural oils are comedogens or allergens just as they are.

One other important consideration: whether or not an ingredient is natural has little to do with its efficacy. Studies that are “evidence-based” (double-blind, randomized trials with quantitative data) are the gold standard to prove efficacy, but they are relatively rare in cosmetics. Publication in a peer-reviewed medical journal or presentation in a medical conference is rarer still but adds even more scientific validity to the study. Unless a natural ingredient is proven to be effective, it may not yield the results you’re looking for. If the natural ingredient is also a photo-allergen (reacts with light to cause darkening) or is comedogenic, it could also be working against you by causing dark splotches or acne. Check out this article for how hypoallergenic can help all skin concerns.

As well, the term “natural” is not currently regulated so it is almost impossible to confirm how natural a product is, how natural its ingredients are, or how much processing was done to those ingredients. The term “organic” is regulated and requires certification. Organic is certainly the best choice for most things. But hypoallergenic (validated “hypoallergenic” — ask for proof) trumps organic every time when caring for sensitive skin.

“What if I just do not want to use anything with chemicals?”


This is an admirable goal and one that many people share. Invented chemicals like PVC are toxic and the earth doesn’t have ways to break them down. Highly processed foods are proven to be damaging on many levels, from obesity to toxins that accumulate in the body. But lessening processed foods and trying to use more biodegradable options is not the same as “avoiding chemicals altogether.”

The line between “natural” and chemical is difficult to draw. “Chemicals” can mean almost anything, including “natural” ingredients. Everything in nature has a chemical structure, is composed of chemical elements (see the periodic table) and has a chemical structure. The chemical structure for water is hydrogen and oxygen, and is shown above. Also shown above is the chemical structure of glyceryl laurate (monolaurin). Monolaurin is derived from coconut oil and is an excellent, very natural, non-allergenic, non-drying antimicrobial (so natural it’s found in breast milk).


“What if I’m allergic to chemicals?”

It’s more likely that you are allergic to common allergens. Allergens (substances more likely to cause an allergic reaction) are determined systematically in patch tests on thousands of people in different countries and are published regularly. The recent publications regularly include results on over 20,000 people in multiple countries in North America and Europe. We also regularly monitor published reports regarding allergic reactions from other countries such as Australia and Japan.

If you have a history of reactions, skin sensitivity, dark splotches, or acne, look for proven, validated hypoallergenic and non-comedogenic claims. Or, even better, ask your dermatologist for a patch test. It is the most effective way to accurate identify what exactly you might be sensitive to. If you’re in the USA and your dermatologist is a member of the American Contact Dermatitis Society, she can even enter your patch test results into the Contact Allergen Management System (CAMP) and give you a list not only of ingredients to avoid but actual products you can use.


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

Learn More:

To read more about natural versus hypoallergenic, check out Is Natural Hypoallergenic? The Answer May Surprise You (But Shouldn’t).

For more on the prevalence of skin allergies, see Skin Allergies Are More Common Than Ever and One In Four Is Allergic to Common Skin Care And Cosmetic Ingredients.

To learn more about the VH-Rating System and hypoallergenicity, click here.

Ask VMV Featured Skin

HYPOALLERGENIC: What is it Really?

One letter can spell a world of difference. HypO means less. HypER means more. And hype means noise — in this case lots of it. We applaud the growing interest in hypoallergenicity. It’s consistent with the increase in consumer demand for safer, healthier products and who doesn’t want that? But as with all hot, “new” trends — just think of all the misleading information about natural and organic — the hullabaloo can make it difficult to separate hype from hypoallergenic.

Where Can I Get Information I Can Trust?

Getting your information from legitimate, reputable sources is always your best bet. But what complicates matters is that in hypoallergenicity, at least one reputable source — your dermatologist — may not necessarily be a specialist in contact dermatitis or patch testing and may have no knowledge about cosmetic ingredients or your countrys FDA regulations concerning hypoallergenicity. This does not make them less qualified as dermatologists in any way shape or form, but this expertise is a sub-specialty and there are many sub-specialties. Your doctor may be an expert in pediatric dermatology, for example, or dermatological surgery. This hardly makes them “inadequate” — these sub-specialties are demanding and necessary, and your physician could be the best in the world — but it could also mean he or she may be less able to answer specific questions about hypoallergenicity, allergens, contact dermatitis, cosmetic ingredients and FDA regulations. Of course, if your doctor happens to be an expert in these areas — is a member of your country’s contact dermatitis society or, even better, of one of the highly specialized research groups devoted to these issues like the North American Contact Dermatitis Group or European Surveillance System on Contact Allergies — you won’t find a better resource!

Another reputable source, your local FDA, may not settle the issue either. Different countries regulate the term “hypoallergenic” differently — some have stricter guidelines while others have none at all.

While you can’t turn yourself into an expert overnight, you can keep a few key concepts in mind that can help you identify which products are more hypoallergenic and which might be using the term loosely.


Here are 10 simple ways to spot what might be “hype” and what’s hypoallergenic:


Hypoallergenic means less likely to cause allergies. The best way to achieve this is to omit allergens (ingredients that are proven to cause reactions). The VH-Number Rating System shows how many allergens have been omitted from a product. The top resources for allergens? The NACDG, ESSCA and the many other groups of contact dermatitis specialists’ articles published each year.

Memorizing the list of allergens is impractical. There are many, chemical names are unwieldy, and allergen lists change regularly as they’re updated. The VH-Rating is your simplest, most immediate, visible and reliable measure of hypoallergenicity. Otherwise, read on for other fundamental musts and must-nots for hypoallergenic products.


Simple formulations with as few ingredients as possible minimize the risk of cross reactions. One of the quickest ways to spot a high-risk product? The longer the ingredients list, the higher the likelihood of reactions.

Since its inception, it is a policy at VMV HYPOALLERGENICS® to create formulations with as few ingredients as possible to achieve the best results with the minimum risk of cross reactions.


Fragrance is consistently ranked high on allergen lists. CAUTION: Even if you don’t see “perfume” in an ingredients list, the product could still have fragrances or masking fragrances (scents that don’t smell “perfume-y” but that cover up the odors of other ingredients). These ingredients could be written in their chemical names, for example: balsam of peru, geraniol or cinnamic alcohol.

TIP: In lieu of shopping with a chemist in tow, take a whiff. If the product smells nice it’s probably got a perfume. If it smells bland it’s probably got a masking fragrance. If it smells “lab-like”, it’s probably fragrance-free. VMV products are 100% All-Types-Of-Fragrance-Free.


Quaternium-15 is another allergen that’s ranked high on allergen lists. Parabens (methylparaben, propylparaben, etc.) are also top allergens. Lots of preservatives are allergens so try to steer clear of them altogether.

CAUTION: many products achieve “preservative-free” status by piling on fragrances which have preservative properties. Most VMV products are 100% Paraben + Preservative-Free.


Dyes are a rather complicated issue. They’re also ranked high on allergen lists, but these are the “azo”-dyes (derived from a particular source). Some dyes are not “azo” dyes and are not considered allergens. Iron oxide pigments tend to be the safest for skin. “Azo”-dyes are relatively easy to spot: first, it’s impossible to get a bright color (like a vivid red or pink or blue) from mineral pigments and second, they’re written as a color followed by a number, e.g. Yellow 6 Lake, Red 22 Lake or Blue 1 Lake.

If you can’t avoid dyes altogether, such as in makeup, try choosing makeup with the least amount of dyes or ask if the dyes used are “azo” dyes which are the ones that are proven allergens. Or, try to use completely dye-free products. VMV’s Skintelligent Beauty Makeup has several dye-free and azo-dye-free options.

Besides those identified above individually, other well-known red flags in cosmetics and personal care products are: Propylene Glycol, Rubber (in cosmetic sponges), Lanolin (except certain medical-grade lanolins), Propolis (from bees wax), Tea tree oil.

Because there are 76 common allergens, it is still best to look at a product’s VH-Rating. If you have a history of skin sensitivity, your best bet is to ask your doctor for a patch test.


Fragrances are allergenic. This is true even of the most natural and organic. Several tree barks, fruits and their peels, bee products and other natural extracts are highly allergenic as well. Think of it this way: if you’re allergic to peanuts or strawberries, you can’t eat them even if they’re as natural and organic as possible. Allergens are allergens, regardless of natural or organic origin. If you’ve got sensitive skin, hypoallergenic trumps natural all the time. For more on natural and hypoallergenic, click here.


That a product is patch tested is better, but it still may not mean much. Many brands accept reactions of 5-15% of patients tested. With rare exceptions (which the VH-Rating will clearly indicate to alert customers) VMV HYPOALLERGENICS® ingredients, applicators and formulations are approved only if they elicit 0% reactions.

Due in large part to this low tolerance for patch test reactions and to using the VH -Number Rating System consistently, in 30 years, VMV HYPOALLERGENICS® has averaged 0.008% (that’s less than zero point one percent) of reactions reported to products we produce — and those were mostly to ingredients not considered to be allergens (from customers who were sensitive to ingredients not considered allergens) or due to incorrect product usage. These results are published in a landmark article[1] on hypoallergenicity and the VH-Rating System in the Dermatitis journal of the American Contact Dermatitis Society.


A little known fact: many allergens are also photo-allergens — chemicals that can react with light (from the sun but also computer screens and office or house lights) to cause darkening. Common photo-allergens include: “azo”dyes, preservatives, and fragrances. If hyperpigmentation is a concern, use only dye-free Skintelligent Beauty Makeup.


Think you don’t need hypoallergenic products because you’ve never had a rash in your life and acne’s your big concern? Think again. Allergens can irritate pores. Irritated pores can become infected. Voilà : Zitastrophe! Inflammation is linked to many skin concerns, from acne to aging and more — hypoallergenicity helps prevent reactions and inflammation.

A hypoallergenic product should be able to help prevent acne and other skin concerns, from pigmentation to inflammations. Such claims might be indicative of a safer product. Hypoallergenicity’s ability to benefit almost all aspects of skin and its care is the main reason why at VMV, hypoallergenicity is a lifestyle. It’s why we produce so many products, from basic skin care to care for men, women, teens and children of all ages. Hypoallergenicity enhances our active treatment cosmeceutical products, enabling us to use higher concentrations of actives without irritating skin. Hypoallergenicity allows prevention to start early—from childbirth, even. And, prevention can be even more important than therapy, averting or lessening the severity of a whole slew of skin problems including inflammation (a common cause of acne, skin diseases, aging, etc.), dark spots (melasma as well as post-acne scars) and even infection. Hypoallergenicity can even help patients avoid the need for steroids and provide powerful support therapy for psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, herpes, burns, etc. Hypoallergenicity helps keep skin safer and healthier from head to toe, from diapers to dermabrasion.


A big concern about cosmetics is how reliable their claims are. Can you judge a brand’s honesty? One way is to find out if its clinical studies have been published in peer-reviewed medical journals. This is objective proof of legitimate science and can give you some peace of mind.

At VMV HYPOALLERGENICS®, one of our biggest points of pride is that we’ve had multiple clinical studies published in peer-reviewed medical journals and presented (even awarded) at dermatological conventions around the world (over 75, in fact).


Do I Really Need To Use Hypoallergenic Products?

Must I really walk on the “mild” side? According to data on growing skin sensitivity from around the world, you might. A 2009 study shows almost 22% or just a little more than one in every five people in the USA reacted to ingredients commonly found in cosmetics.[2] A review of studies[3] from 1979 to 2004 in Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, the Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Sweden, the UK, and the USA shows percentages of reactions from 5.4% to 26%. And these were just to fragrances; the total percentage of reactions to more allergens would likely be higher.

A 1997[4] study showed 44% of children reacting to several preservatives including formaldehyde and its releasers, parabens, other preservatives, and even an antioxidant. And another comparative study of patch tests between 2001 and 2004 showed 51.2% of children and 54.1% of adults reacted to at least one allergen.[5]

What’s more, it is reasonable to consider these percentages as conservative: experts acknowledge that most reactions go unreported because consumers won’t normally see a doctor for a reaction they feel is mild or passing. In other cases where a patient does see a physician for a reaction, patients and/or their doctors are often unaware that a cosmetic or skin care product was the cause of the dermatitis (in one study, more than half of the cases fell under this category).[6]

Contact allergy experts caution that the number of allergens or irritants will probably increase as ingredients become more popular (an ingredient can become an irritant as exposure to it increases). This is one of the main reasons why VMV HYPOALLERGENICS® continuously reviews multi-year studies and reformulates frequently. In order to be the most hypoallergenic option available, we have always reformulated even if just one of our ingredients becomes an allergen.


For more information, visit > skintelligencenter or ask your doctor about the Contact Allergen Reference Database (


1: Verallo-Rowell VM. The validated hypoallergenic cosmetics rating system: its 30-year evolution and effect on the prevalence of cosmetic reactions. Dermatitis 2011 Apr; 22(2):80-97.

2: Warshaw, E et al. Allergic patch test reactions associated with cosmetics: Retrospective analysis of cross-sectional data from the North American Contact Dermatitis Group, 2001-2004. J AmAcadDermatol 2009;60:23-38.

3: Scheinman PL. The foul side of fragrance-free products: what every clinician should know about managing patients with fragrance allergy. J Am Acad Dermatol. 1999 Dec;41(6):1020-4.

4: Conti A et al. Contact sensitization to preservatives in children. Contact Dermatitis 1997: 37: 35-36.

5: Zug K et al. Contact Allergy in Children Referred for Patch Testing: North American Contact Dermatitis Group Data, 2001-2004. Arch Dermatol., 2008;144(10):1329-1336.

6. Adams RJ, Maibach HI. A five year study of cosmetic reactions. J Am Acad Dermatol 1985;13:1062-9.