Allergen, Not An Allergen Featured

COCONUT WATER: Allergen or Not An Allergen?

Not An Allergen

Coconut Water

It’s not (yet) commonly used on skin but it could be: coconut water is very hydrating, moisturizing, a great source of vitamin C, is non-comedogenic, and is not a top contact allergen. It also has growth hormones and cytokines which have been shown to promote cell growth. Like most coconut derivatives, it also has some anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. And it has antioxidants!

Drinking it has several benefits, too. It’s rich in antioxidants, vitamins, nutrients, iron, and potassium, which is why it’s a favorite alternative to sports drinks — which also tend to have dyes, flavors (related to fragrances), and preservatives as contact allergens, plus lots more sugar). Don’t overdo it, however: too much potassium (hyperkalemia) is very dangerous.

To be clear, we’re referring to pure coconut water, i.e. directly from the fresh coconut or the ingredients list on the package shows that one ingredient. Other coconut waters might contain preservatives or flavors to watch out for.

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.

To shop our selection of hypoallergenic products, visit Need help? Ask us in the comments section below, or for more privacy (such as when asking us to customize recommendations for you based on your patch test results) contact us by email, or drop us a private message on Facebook.

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.

Main References: 

Regularly published reports on the most common allergens by the North American Contact Dermatitis Group and European Surveillance System on Contact Allergies (based on over 28,000 patch test results, combined), plus other studies. Remember, we are all individuals — just because an ingredient is not on the most common allergen lists does not mean you cannot be sensitive to it, or that it will not become an allergen. These references, being based on so many patch test results, are a good basis but it is always best to get a patch test yourself.

1. Warshaw, E.M., Maibach, H.I., Taylor, J.S., et al. North American contact dermatitis group patch test results: 2011-2012. Dermatitis. 2015; 26: 49-59.

2. W Uter et al. The European Baseline Series in 10 European Countries, 2005/2006–Results of the European Surveillance System on Contact Allergies (ESSCA). Contact Dermatitis 61 (1), 31-38.7 2009.

3. Wetter, DA et al. Results of patch testing to personal care product allergens in a standard series and a supplemental cosmetic series: An analysis of 945 patients from the Mayo Clinic Contact Dermatitis Group, 2000-2007. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2010 Nov;63(5):789-98.

4. 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.

5. Ruby Pawankar et al. World Health Organization. White Book on Allergy 2011-2012 Executive Summary.

6. Misery L et al. Sensitive skin in the American population: prevalence, clinical data, and role of the dermatologist. Int J Dermatol. 2011 Aug;50(8):961-7.

7. Warshaw EM1, Maibach HI, Taylor JS, Sasseville D, DeKoven JG, Zirwas MJ, Fransway AF, Mathias CG, Zug KA, DeLeo VA, Fowler JF Jr, Marks JG, Pratt MD, Storrs FJ, Belsito DV. North American contact dermatitis group patch test results: 2011-2012.Dermatitis. 2015 Jan-Feb;26(1):49-59.

8. 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. 

9. Foliaki S et al. Antibiotic use in infancy and symptoms of asthma, rhinoconjunctivitis, and eczema in children 6 and 7 years old: International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood Phase III. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2009 Nov;124(5):982-9.

10. Kei EF et al. Role of the gut microbiota in defining human health. Expert Rev Anti Infect Ther. 2010 Apr; 8(4): 435–454.

11. Thavagnanam S et al. A meta-analysis of the association between Caesarean section and childhood asthma. Clin Exp Allergy. 2008;38(4):629–633.

12. Marks JG, Belsito DV, DeLeo VA, et al. North American Contact Dermatitis Group patch-test results, 1998 to 2000. Am J Contact Dermat. 2003;14(2):59-62.

13. Warshaw EM, Belsito DV, Taylor JS, et al. North American Contact Dermatitis Group patch test results: 2009 to 2010. Dermatitis. 2013;24(2):50-99.

Want more great information on contact dermatitis? Check out the American Contact Dermatitis SocietyDermnet New Zealand, and your country’s contact dermatitis association.

Laura is our “dew”-good CEO at VMV Hypoallergenics and eldest daughter of VMV’s founding dermatologist-dermatopathologist. She has two children, Madison and Gavin, and works at VMV with her sister CC and husband Juan Pablo (Madison and Gavin frequently volunteer their “usage testing” services). In addition to saving the world’s skin, Laura is passionate about health, inclusion, cultural theory, human rights, happiness, and spreading goodness (like a great cream!)

Featured Healthy Living Skin

Another Disinfection Technique: Wash Your Hands, Use Monolaurin…and Virgin Coconut Oil Your Nose!

With new bugs and superbugs, we’re looking for more ways to prevent infection. Improving our nutrition and overall well being is important (which includes lessening stress and getting enough sleep). Another is increasing our probiotic intake. Some classic best practices include frequent and proper hand washing, upping your use of hand sanitizer, and wiping down surfaces with alcohol or bleach. But while alcohol isn’t an allergen, it is drying and all that sanitation can cause skin problems, particularly on your hands. Virgin coconut oil (VCO) and its derivatives like monolaurin could be just what you need to stay safer while keeping your skin comfortable and healthy.

Why VCO and Monolaurin?

Lauric acid monoglyceride as 2% monolaurin and virgin coconut oil (VCO) have studies going as far back as the 1970s showing their efficacy against viruses (including enveloped viruses) and comparably so with 85% alcohol.

VCO and its derivatives, even at lower concentrations, directly disintegrate the viral envelope which destroys the rest of the virus (alcohol denatures the virus’s protein materials). While both act immediately, alcohol evaporates quickly (is transient) while VCO and its derivatives, being fats, stay longer on surface skin and mucosa, so that their antimicrobial effects last longer. And, unlike alcohol, VCO and monolaurin do all this while moisturizing the skin instead of drying it out.

Furthermore, VCO and its derivatives kill not just viruses but fungi as well as gram (+) and (-) bacteria — and some of their resistant strains — so you get broad-spectrum protection that feels yummy on the skin.

That yummy feeling isn’t just for pleasure, either. VCO and monolaurin have important anti-inflammatory effects.

Try This Technique

As with all things related to health and infection, consult your doctor and refer to trusted sources like the World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

1) Wash Your Hands

Wash your hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds. Ideally, use a wash that contains sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) or sodium laurel sulfate (SLES) which are made with lauric acid from coconut oil. Just make sure to choose a product like Superwash that has lower concentrations of SLES (less irritating than SLS) and that has no allergens or irritants in the formulation. While not an allergen, SLES and SLS, just like alcohol, can be irritating (SLS is more so) as their concentration increases. If you do not have an SLES or SLS-cleanser handy, soap is fine. Wash your hands well, covering all surfaces and scrubbing under your nails. If you’ve been commuting or out in a crowd, wash until your elbows.

2) Wash Your Face

This isn’t always necessary but if you’re concerned about contagion, are immune-compromised, or are feeling vulnerable, get a gentle SLS facial cleanser like any SuperSkin Care Cleanser and wash your face, too. Besides your face being almost as exposed as your hands, we tend to touch our faces a lot more than we think.

End of the day?

If you’re home and staying put, go ahead and take a full shower. Use Superwash and your SLS-cleanser.

3) Snort Your Coconut Oil

Ok, while you could, in fact, snort it, it’s more comfortable (and less messy) to rub it in there instead. Pour some VCO onto a cotton swab or tissue. If your tissue or swab is new and real clean, you can also dip one end of it into the oil. Swipe the oil all around the insides of your nostrils. Massage well: this helps the lipases in the skin break down the VCO into its monoglycerides and fatty acids, including the awesome antimicrobials lauric acid and monolaurin. Throw the swab or tissue away properly.

Pro Tip 1: Want extra protection?

Try Oil’s Well which has only those two magical ingredients: virgin coconut oil and monolaurin.

Pro Tip 2: Dry, painful nostrils?

If you’ve been blowing your nose a lot, or they’re raw from allergies or cold weather, use Boo-Boo Balm in your nostrils instead. It contains virgin coconut oil and monolaurin but in a balm for quicker healing.

4) Hand Sanitize with Monolaurin

Rub monolaurin hand sanitizer all over your hands, including under your nails. Don’t wipe it off: let it air dry (it takes just a few seconds).

Pro Tip 1: We love multitaskers

Both Id Monolaurin Gel and Kid Gloves Make-It-Cleaner Hand Gel are multipurpose, with lots of great skin benefits from sweat acne to mattifying skin, and keeping you feeling cool and fresh (you can even apply them on your underarms to control odor or if the stress of the day has made things extra sweaty).

Pro Tip 2: You’re spoiled with a choice

You’ve run out? Not a problem! Use virgin coconut oil alone or a product that contains VCO and/or the right percentage of pure monolaurin — like any of our moisturizers and hand lotions. They’re great stand-ins!


It is important to emphasize that, to our knowledge as of this writing, monolaurin has not been tested on nCoV-2019 specifically (neither has alcohol). This information is compelling but needs validation on this particular virus. The available evidence seems to suggest similar efficacy to alcohol in destroying enveloped viruses and some coronaviruses. Follow your doctor’s instructions, and rely on trusted sources such as the World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and your country’s department of health. For a study review of VCO, monolaurin and other coconut oil derivatives as antivirals, antibacterials and antifungals, click here.

Laura is our “dew”-good CEO at VMV Hypoallergenics and eldest daughter of VMV’s founding dermatologist-dermatopathologist. She has two children, Madison and Gavin, and works at VMV with her sister CC and husband Juan Pablo (Madison and Gavin frequently volunteer their “usage testing” services). In addition to saving the world’s skin, Laura is passionate about health, inclusion, cultural theory, human rights, happiness, and spreading goodness (like a great cream!)

Healthy Living

Is Oil Pulling Legit? 5 Things I Learned About This Health Fad

From celebrities to health gurus and beauty insiders, oil pulling’s gotten some serious attention. Is it legit?

My mom’s been doing it for years but is the oil-pulling health fad pulling our legs more than anything else? I decided to learn more.

“Ick, ick, ick, gag, ick, gag.” This is what my poor mother — the big brain behind VMV Hypoallergenics’ phenomenal science — hears from me when she tells me to try oil pulling, which she does regularly. I have PFAPA (Periodic Fever, Aphthous stomatitis, Pharyngitis and Adenitis) which, at its simplest, means I have an over-zealous inflammatory response and get sick several times a year at regular intervals. When I have a flare-up, to help with the aphthous lesions (canker sores), painful throat, and inflamed adenoids (and eventual sinusitis), she hands me some virgin coconut oil with the one-word instruction: gargle.

I don’t need convincing that virgin coconut oil (VCO) is good for you. There is a solid and growing body of science on this incredible substance’s multiple benefits for skin, mind, and body. My mother herself has authored many of the randomized, double-blind studies published on VCO that are in peer-reviewed medical journals, and she is considered an authority on it. I use the stuff on my skin, it’s in almost every VMV product. My family and I eat it daily in salads and more (we cook with it, too). But swishing and gargling with it? Ick. And gag.

After another flare-up I thought: ok, woman, oil pulling’s quite the fad and your mom’s never wrong about these things…find out more. So I did. These are the 5 most compelling things that I learned in my personal “skinvestigation.”


Eating virgin coconut oil is great for your heart and cells. Coconut oil is so good for you that even less-pure, non-hypoallergenic RBD oil that we wouldn’t recommend for skin is better for cooking than other oils. Applying VCO on the skin is excellent for cellular strength, barrier repair, moisturization and disinfection. But why swish it around in the mouth? The logic of oil-pulling goes: if VCO is so good when eaten and applied topically, its absorption through the mouth could be a faster, more efficient way of getting the benefits of VCO.

Because the mouth’s mucosal interior is full of blood vessels, many drugs are made specifically to be absorbed in the mouth (a common one is sublingual melatonin). Mouth absorption can act faster and bypass the digestive tract, entering the body’s systemic circulation directly and delivering health benefits that would otherwise be lost to gastrointestinal and metabolic processing.

In other words, eating VCO and applying it on skin and hair are awesome ways to get its benefits, but you can get even more by its being absorbed through the mouth lining.

*Zhang H1, Zhang J, Streisand JB. Oral mucosal drug delivery: clinical pharmacokinetics and therapeutic applications. Clin Pharmacokinet. 2002;41(9):661-80.


With its proven antimicrobial action, VCO swilling may be able to fend off cavities (which are bacterial infections). As an anti-inflammatory, it prevents gum disease and soreness. Anecdotally, my mother can’t remember the last time she had a cavity or gum problem. At her last dental visit for preventive maintenance, the dentist pulled staff from his full clinic to see this septuagenarian’s amazing teeth.

Bad breath? Oil pulling could help by minimizing halitosis-causing bacteria.

What about whitening teeth? It seems possible. Bacteria is a cause of enamel erosion which is what leads to dentin’s natural yellow color showing through.


Indirectly, by controlling bacteria, oil pulling could potentially reduce your need for fluoridated mouthwashes and let you switch to a fluoride-free toothpaste like Essence Skin-Saving Toothpaste…and we know that doing so can dramatically clear up acne around the mouth, and on the chin and jaw line (fluorides can be acnegenic.)

More directly, if you have a compromised immune system (as some who are undergoing cancer therapy do), or sores from PFAPA, Behçet’s, herpes or another condition, or if you have Sjogren’s disease (which makes the skin and mucosal surfaces dry), VCO pulling can help soothe the pain, and help clear the lesions faster.


The mouth is both very sensitive and a hotbed of microbes. It seems like if oil pulling is beneficial it’s largely due to the antibacterial action — in which case, VCO’s proven broad-spectrum anti-microbial effects (on bacteria, fungi and viruses) makes it the ideal choice.

Other pluses are VCO’s stable saturated medium-chain triglycerides (vital to cell repair) and its anti-inflammatory effects (important for sores and infection). It is hypoallergenic (not an allergen) and non-comedogenic, too.

Choose an organic, hypoallergenic, first-cold pressed oil like Know-It-Oil (the actual oil my mom uses in her clinical studies) so that you keep as much of the phytochemical content (the good stuff) as possible. Avoid dyes, flavors and allergenic chemicals sometimes used in extraction and processing, particularly in RBD (refined, bleached, deodorized coconut oil).


Not anymore! First, I learned that you don’t have to actively swish the oil in the mouth, which can get exhausting. Just keeping your mouth closed and letting the oil sit there works. Second, I use this trick with my kids in waiting rooms and on myself when I’m crazy lazy to work out: distraction.

Oil pulling to a TV show can distract me for the recommended 20 minutes — especially when I’m binge-watching. Another trick I do regularly is put the bottle of VCO in the shower with me so it melts in the hot water and I can already pour some in my mouth…by the time I’m done bathing, doing my skincare regimen, and changing, I’m close to the 20 minutes anyway. And, I’ve also used it to help me be good about meditation: pour, sit, breathe, set a 20-minute timer.

With the new research on probiotics and my PFAPA, I’m swilling daily now, with VCO and a coconut-derived vinegar from the same farm that grows our organic coconut oil. I don’t have the studies to prove it yet, but this daily gargling plus my major increase in fermented foods (if it’s pickled, I’ll eat it) seems to correlated to a dramatic decrease in my mouth lesions and sinus infections.

My conclusion? Clinical studies specifically on oil pulling still need to be done, but the benefits seem bountiful and the downsides nil. So oil in mouth, grab the remote or a good book, and chill while you swill.


Laura is the CEO of VMV Hypoallergenics and eldest daughter of our founding dermatologist-dermatopathologist. She has two children, Madison and Gavin, and works at VMV with her sister and husband (Madison and Gavin frequently volunteer their “usage testing” services). In addition to saving the world’s skin, Laura is passionate about learning, literature, art, health, science, inclusion, cultural theory, human rights, happiness and goodness.

Family Blog Skin

How To Ouchlessly Apply Boo-Boo Balm On A Very Painful Wound

My weakness isn’t seeing the blood and gore of injuries; it’s watching people in pain, particularly my young children. Boo-Boo Balm is ouchless as it is, but putting pressure on a throbbing wound can be agony. With my mom (VMV’s founding dermatologist-dermatopathologist), we’ve perfected a pretty awesome ouchless first-aid technique. Follow those steps first (ice the wound and clean it with virgin coconut oil), then follow with this, my technique for painlessly applying The Big, Brave Boo-Boo Balm itself.

STEP 1: Goop It Up.


The trick to painless application is: touch balm, not wound. Get more balm than you need. It’s important to get a big, generous mound.

STEP 2: Press Beside (Not On) The Wound.


Position the sub so that most of the balm is on top of the wound directly but do not press down with the swab. Move the swab slightly to the side of the tender area, rotating slightly if needed to make sure Boo-Boo Balm stays on top of the wound, and gently press down (so you’re pressing down next to the owie, not on it). The mound of balm should be on the wound, but the swab should be on the skin beside the wound.

STEP 3: Roll Swab Away, Leaving Behind The Mound Boo-Boo Balm.


Still pressing gently beside the wound, slowly start turning the swab away from the wound so that swab comes off clean, leaving behind a big goop of Boo-Boo Balm on top of the wound.

STEP 4: Push Balm, Not Wound.


If you need to adjust some of the balm or to cover more areas: there will be enough of a mound so that you only need to touch the balm. The wound should feel no pressure as you push the balm around.

Cover with a bandage, and done!


Laura is the CEO of VMV Hypoallergenics and eldest daughter of our founding dermatologist-dermatopathologist. She has two children, Madison and Gavin, and works at VMV with her sister and husband (Madison and Gavin frequently volunteer their “usage testing” services). In addition to saving the world’s skin, Laura is passionate about learning, literature, art, health, science, inclusion, cultural theory, human rights, happiness and goodness.

Family Blog Skin

Try This Technique For Pain-Free First Aid!

By Laura

“SLAM! 🙁 8yo’s finger got into a fight with a cabinet door and lost.”

So went the caption of that photograph above when I posted it on Instagram. I took the photo after the ice packs had already reduced the pain significantly (my top, why-did-no-one-tell-me-about-this-when-I-was-a-kid tip below) because I wanted to know if my mom (dermatologist) thought I should to take my daughter to the emergency room. I wouldn’t have shared the photo except that I couldn’t believe how quickly we got the pain down and how well the wound healed in such a short amount of time. That, I thought, was worth sharing with other pain-averse parents!

Truth: “No matter how old your children are, when they hurt, you hurt.” Seeing my girl in that much pain tore. me. up. And that was just a finger! I shudder to think of the wounded predator I’d be after her first broken heart or a hard tackle on the soccer field (her father has threatened to ban me from games).

I believe part of my job as a mom is to stay calm and think rationally in such instances, which brings me to the ultimate point of this post: ouchless first aid. It is far, far easier to calmly treat a wound when your child isn’t violently suffering the treatment itself. It was my mother’s knowledge of microbes and skin and my insistence that pain be damned that led to the creation of The Big, Brave Boo-Boo Balm. My mom wanted it to be a non-allergenic (some top antibacterial ointments are allergens) but powerful antibiotic, anti-fungal, and antiviral salve for various boo-boos (from cuts and scrapes to minor burns, sores and eczematous flare-ups). I wanted it — unlike the pink or rust-colored demonic concoctions of my youth — ouchless. Taking the ouchless objective further, we put our heads together (this is a 2-generation mom tip!) and came to this awesome technique for pain-free first aid.

1) Ice pack on owie (numbs pain super quick).

So many people forget the power of ice. It NUMBS PAIN. Use it freely, not just on sore joints or sports injuries!



With my daughter here, the finger was so painful we did an ice compress “sandwich.” We lay her finger on its back (the unharmed part) on top of a large ice pack, and rested a small, light ice pack on top of the painful side. There was some pain for sure but it was incredible how quickly the ice brought down the inflammation and numbed the hurt.

TIP: Ice is great for mouth owies. My 5yo son was playing with some large straws and banged them straight back into the roof of his mouth. Laceration, major pain, and in an area that’s not easy to get to. We gave him a popsicle to suck on (we make ours with coconut water or coconut milk) and then had him gargle with virgin coconut oil (more on that magic later). Within a few minutes, the pain was forgotten and eating was fine with softer foods. Within a few hours, he was swallowing normal food without a care in the world. When my kids were younger, we used ice on all scrapes and cuts before any other treatment. My theory is: whenever possible, reduce the pain first. It makes kids calmer and makes further treatment faster and less awful for everybody.


2) Clean wound by drizzling virgin coconut oil.

Don’t think of a vigorous cleaning just yet — with virgin coconut oil‘s antimicrobial properties, you’ve bought yourself time before the dreaded washing.


Here, the pain was reduced so much that I could already drop our virgin coconut oil onto the wound within just a few minutes of icing. No rubbing, just drops of oil to cover the entire wound. We iced some more after that, and drizzled more oil after a few more minutes. Virgin coconut oil has natural antimicrobial properties and can actually be used alone to clean a wound — why it’s so helpful in mouth injuries like my son’s above, or for canker sores and sore throats. In this case, I wanted to clean the wound immediately to stop opportunistic bugs as quickly as possible…without subjecting the still-tender wound to the painful trauma of water and soap.


3) Occlusion dressing with Boo-Boo Balm.

See my technique for ouchlesss Boo-Boo Balm application.


When the wound is numb enough, it’s time for moist wound healing. After applying Boo-Boo Balm, bandage the wound with a regular band-aid. For some injuries in areas of lots of movement or friction (like feet), I’ll add gauze and a non-stick tape around the hand or foot to keep the bandage on and closed for a good, long time. I love No-Hurt Wraps because they stay on well and my kids are allergic to tape adhesive.

Covering the wound (occlusion dressing) is important because it prevents the entry of air. This keeps the wound moist, allowing for the freer movement of cells and more rapid regeneration of tissue to fill up the wound (quicker healing but also much less scarring). Within a few hours (see photo below — the tissue was already regenerating to fill up the bottom of the wound) or overnight, the wound should be much less tender and healing nicely.


Before going to bed or early in the morning, it should be well enough to wash more thoroughly with water and a gentle cleanser. I prefer Clark Wash because it’s a light liquid, not a hard soap which can be painful to rub over the wound and is more irritating. If the wound is still too tender, clean again with just virgin coconut oil, and redress with Boo-Boo Balm and a new bandage. Wait another few hours and it should be healed enough to wash normally. Redress the wound regularly — Clark Wash and water > virgin coconut oil > Boo-Boo Balm > bandage — until healed.