Family Skin Care
Why non-toxic hypoallergenic skin care matters.
Regulations for personal and home care products are broad and relatively loose. Many modern skin care and home cleaning products contain endocrine disruptors, carcinogens, allergens and ingredients that harm aquatic eco systems. It matters – and it’s hard to figure out where to draw the line in your own home without sacrificing efficiency, convenience and product performance.
As a dermatologist, I watch the scientific studies and evaluate them. I try products and evaluate their performance too. I’ve created natural hypoallergenic substitutions that make sense and a big impact on going clean personal care, without sacrificing your quality of life or product enjoyment.
Cut down on your family’s exposure to modern toxic chemicals in personal care products by stocking your home with chemical free natural products at every sink, bathtub and shower.
The impact will be huge. Those products also wash down the drain into the water system, local aquatic environments and ultimately back into your drinking water. Go chemical free with your home cleaning products and the impact is even bigger. And, you don’t need to sacrifice product quality and performance in the process.
As a dermatologist who has made the switch, I know where and how to substitute chemical free products for chemical laden ones without compromising anything. In fact, because I’ve also gone hypoallergenic in the process, my family and I are exposed to less skin allergens too. Those set up a risk of lifelong skin allergies that cause mysterious rashes at inconvenient times – like on vacation when you are using hotel toiletries with cross reacting allergens – trust me, my dermatology patients have brought me this exact misadventure daily for 30+ years of practice.
Go chemical free and hypoallergenic at the same time, and love how well your new products work too.
The most common allergens in personal care products are fragrance and preservatives. Minimize exposure to those. Yes, you can still use targeted products that blend scientific technology for a given purpose, such as acne treatment, anti-aging skin care, oven cleaning etc., but for the majority of what you expose your skin, lungs and the local aquatic environment to – go chemical free and hypoallergenic. You can even enjoy fragrance safely when you want.
Get my dermatologists list on how to go green, clean, non-toxic and hypoallergenic in your household with products that work well.
I’m going to speed to the end and tell you how to do this now. If you want to read why it’s important, I’ve included that too after this actionable list:
Best Natural Hypoallergenic Skin Cleansers
- Stock Naturally Best Bar Soap for every place in your home that you use a bar of soap.
- Keep Natural Foaming Hand Soap at every sink where you frequently wash your hands. Choices here include an entirely fragrance-free option, or light lavender-fragrance that is 100% organic lavender essential oil added at a low concentration. Yes, any essential oil can be an allergen, but lavender at low concentration is a dermatologiclly sound option for those who love real scent – like me.
- Stock every shower and bathtub with Natural Shower Gel. Choices include an entirely fragrance free, or a light peppermint essential oil fragrance product– again made with a concentration below what readily taunts skin allergic reactions.
Best Hypoallergenic Face, Hand and Body Moisturizers
Keep a natural moisturizer right where you step out of the bath or shower, wash your face, and wash your hands. Moisturizers are applied within the magic 3 minutes after toweling skin dry to work best. Don’t forget to keep moisturizer next to the kitchen sink, too.
- Natural Face and Body Lotion: Fragrance free and ultra-hypoallergenic for the entire family. Use it head-to-toe, and it even plays well with hairy skin!
- Natural Face and Body Butter Cream: Fragrance free and ultra-hypoallergenic for the entire family when you want a richer formula for moisture craving skin.
- Face Booster Oils: Replenish important skin lipids, heal and sooth dryness prone skin. Use them alone or add a few drops to boost the healing botanical oil content of your moisturizer. Choose from fragrance free or Omega Enriched Face Oil which includes therapeutic essential oils that have an inherent fragrance including sea buckthorn, borage and cypress – all at concentrations that make this still a hypoallergenic product. The Omega Enriched formula is also a fantastic beard oil that fights beardruff.
- Natural Lip Balm: It’s certified organic and truly hypoallergenic to prevent addiction to lip balm (aka allergic reaction to your lip balm that makes your lips feel even drier). Keep one in the bathroom, your purse, your desk, back pack, etc. Apply lip balm often to protect and heal delicate lips.
Best Natural Hypoallergenic Home Cleaning Products
- Natural Home Spray Cleaner: Experience zero, bad VOC fumes to help keep your home non-toxic. Fragrance-free and made with organic ingredients. It kills ants too! Go figure.
- Natural Home Cleaner Concentrate: A detergent free hypoallergenic cleaner concentrate when you need a bucket of sudsy water to clean stuff. It’s a great gentle laundry soap for delicate fabrics, too. As a dermatologist, I know that hypoallergenic laundry soap is important to prevent laundry dermatitis. This is especially true for undergarments that are worn in sweaty areas where laundry-soap residue is readily absorbed into the skin to cause allergic rashes – and who needs the phthalates there either?!
Best Non-nano Particle Hypoallergenic Mineral Zinc Oxide Sunscreens
Non-nano pure zinc oxide sunscreens in natural base formulas typically are made with botanical oils and butters. Many also contain essential oils that can be allergens. The Raw Elememts and Suntegrity products I carry are free of the essential oils because my goal is to always give you hypoallergenic products for your personal care needs. Not all of the products made by these two fine companies are hypoallergenic, and not everyone wants to use oil containing sunscreen. If that's you, consider my Sheer Strength Pure Physical Sunscreens that have a light weight feel on your skin. These are also non-nano particle sunscreens in a light weight modern base. All these products are listed below.
Best Non-toxic Hypoallergenic Makeup Products
For those family members who wear makeup, I recommend pure mineral powders made without artificial dyes, fragrance and fillers. These are hypoallergenic and ideal for people with sensitive skin. They look natural, provide great coverage and perform beautifully. Dust mineral powder over sunscreen for added sun protection provided when mineral particles scatter UV rays.
That’s the product list for hypoallergenic non-toxic skin care. Now back to ‘Why’ this is an important decision to make for you, your family and your local environment.
What are the most notorious chemicals in personal care and home cleaning products?
In general, some of the least eco-friendly personal skin care products include those made with:
- synthetic fragrances
- antibacterial ingredients like triclosan
- non-nano mineral sunscreen filters and chemical sunscreen filters
Phthalate is sometimes used in the ingredient listed as ‘fragrance’ to enhance the fragrance chemicals performance.
The most common skin allergens in personal care products include:
- fragrance (including high concentrations of natural botanical essential oils)
- formaldehyde releasing preservatives.
Thus, the most common ingredients in skin care and home cleaning products that are potentially toxic or allergens include:
- Synthetic fragrance
- High concentration essential oils
- Phthalates (which can also part of an ingredient listed as ‘fragrance’)
- Formaldehyde releasing preservatives: quaternium-15, diazolidinyl urea, DMDM hydantoin, imidazolidinyl urea, bronopol (2‐bromo‐2‐nitropropane‐1,3‐diol), and tris nitro.
- Nano-particle mineral zinc oxide and titanium dioxide and the chemical UV sunscreen ingredients
Why are phthalates bad?
- They are known endocrine disruptors and linked to developmental and reproductive toxicity and cancer according to Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.
- Phthalates are commonly found in human urine samples.
- They wash off our skin and into wastewater treatment facilities where they are difficult to remove, and thus, enter the environment and then re-enter drinking water and the food chain.
- They are banned from personal care products in the EU but still allowed – and abundant – in the U.S.
How do you know if there are phthalates in your skin care products?
The FDA regulates cosmetic products sold to consumers and mandates labeling of ingredients. The FDA recommends that consumers read ingredient labels. But they go on to say:
However, the regulations do not require the listing of the individual fragrance ingredients; therefore, the consumer will not be able to determine from the ingredient declaration if phthalates are present in a fragrance… Consumers who do not want to purchase cosmetics containing DEP (the phthalate found in fragrance) may wish to choose products that do not include “Fragrance” in the ingredient listing. FDA
Think about how many of your personal-care and home-cleaning products contain some ambiguous ingredient listed as “fragrance.” Most of that is artificial, and the components of which are non-specifically delineate — you have no idea if that scent contains phthalates, and there is no way to tell.
What is the best way to avoid phthalates in your skin care and home cleaning products?
The best way to avoid phthalates is to avoid products with artificial fragrance. The double benefit is that fragrance is a big problem for skin allergy so avoiding it is smart!
Chose fragrance-free products for your personal care. If you want scent to your life, use a very low concentration of natural, essential oil for fragrance. Essential oils can be skin allergens too so chose one scent that you love, and use it very sparingly in a very diluted amount.
Understand the terminology difference between fragrance-free and unscented – it’s confusing.
What is the difference between fragrance-free and unscented?
- According to the EPA, “fragrance-free” means that the product has no fragrance ingredients added.
- Unscented products may contain masking chemicals to hide the odor of the product base formulation.
Choose fragrance free products for personal and home care needs, or, chose products scented with natural essential oils to avoid phthalates and fragrance allergens. Cynthia Bailey, MD
Triclosan is the other ingredient you should avoid.
Triclosan is an antibacterial ingredient in soaps, toothpaste, lotions, and other personal care products. Even the FDA says to avoid it. Animal studies suggest it lowers thyroid hormone levels and contributes to the bacterial antibiotic resistance problem. It also accumulates in aquatic ecosystems, is only partially removed by wastewater treatment, and is highly toxic to aquatic ecosystems. Never use triclosan.
Dermatologist's Recommendations for Safe Sun Protection for Your Family
Sun protection is more complicated. UV rays are carcinogens and cause approximately 90% of skin aging including skin thinning and fragility, sun spots, wrinkles etc.
Marine ecosystems are being damaged by chemical sunscreens and nanoparticle sunscreens. Studies show that the sunscreen ingredient called oxybenzone is causing coral damage. Nanoparticle sunscreens are probably also causing harm to marine life, too.
Sunscreens and your health are also in question. In 2019 the FDA sunscreen press release stated that there are only two sunscreen ingredients that have adequate data to prove they are safe to consumers. These ingredients are zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. All the other sunscreen ingredients need more data before the FDA will conclusively consider them safe to use. Zinc oxide sunscreen provides better protection than titanium dioxide, use zinc oxide.
I’ve actually known about chemical and nano-particle sunscreen concerns for years. It’s why I have advocated sun protective clothing and non-nano zinc oxide sunscreens. I’m a master at safe sun protection.
Dermatologist’s tips for how to sun protect your family conveniently and without nano-particle or chemical sunscreens.
- Wear UPF 50 sun protective clothing and swim wear that covers lots of your skin so that tons of sunscreen is NOT necessary. See the Bloxsun gloves below.
- Use a non-nano sunscreen for what little skin is left uncovered.
- Use shade with sun hats and sun umbrellas to protect your skin from UV too. See these products below. You still need sunscreen on shaded skin!
Does the FDA press release mean sunscreen ingredients other than zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are not safe?
The other 12 ingredients used in U.S. sunscreens, according to the FDA, require more study before the FDA will say they are entirely safe (called GRASE – generally regarded as safe and effective). These include:
- Padimate O
It is important to put the FDA statement in context. They are not saying the ingredients are not safe. They are saying that more data and study is required. I still feel that non-nano zinc oxide is the only way to go – for many scientific reasons. It’s what I chose for myself, my family and my patients.
Anton C De Groot, Formaldehyde‐releasers: relationship to formaldehyde contact allergy. Contact allergy to formaldehyde and inventory of formaldehyde‐releasers, Contact Dermatitis, Formaldehyde‐releasers: relationship to formaldehyde contact allergy. Contact allergy to formaldehyde and inventory of formaldehyde‐releasers, https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1600-0536.2009.01582.x
Zota AR, Singla V, Adamkiewicz G, et al Reducing chemical exposures at home: opportunities for action, J Epidemiol Community Health 2017;71:937-940.
Zakiya Hoyett (2018). Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products: Risks, Challenges, and Solutions, Risk Assessment, InTech, DOI: 10.5772/intechopen.70799. Available from: https://www.intechopen.com/books/risk-assessment/pharmaceuticals-and-personal-care-products-risks-challenges-and-solutions
Abel, P.D., Toxicity of synthetic detergents to fish and aquatic invertebrates., Journal of Fish Biology, Vol 6(3):279-298, May 1974
Paulsen, Lisa, “The Health Risks of Chemicals in Personal Care Products and Their Fate in the Environment” (2015). Chemistry Honors Papers. 15. http://digitalcommons.conncoll.edu/chemhp/15
Downs CA, Kramarsky-Winter E, Segal R, et al. Toxicopathological Effects of the Sunscreen UV Filter, Oxybenzone (Benzophenone-3), on Coral Planulae and Cultured Primary Cells and Its Environmental Contamination in Hawaii and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Arch Environ Contam Toxicol 2015 Oct 20. doi: 10.1007/s00244-015-0227-7.
Botta, Celine, et. al., TiO2-based nanoparticles released in water from commercialized sunscreens in a life-cycle perspective: Structures and quantities. Environmental Pollution, 159 (2011) 1543-1550
Corinaldest Cinzia, et. al., Sunscreen products impair the early developmental stages of the sea urchin Paracentrotus lividus, Nature Scientific Reports 7, Article number 7815 (2017)
Welch, Craig, Do Sunscreens’ Tiny Particles Harm Ocean Life in Big Ways? National Geographic, May 14, 2015
Dann, Ancrea, et. al., Triclosan: Environmental exposure, toxicity and mechanism of action, Journal of Applied Toxicology, 31(4): 285-311 May 2011Author:
Good looking and high-performance UPF 50 sun protection hats for kids.
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Gently scented with organic lavender essential oil. This is a luxurious and easy-rinse, foaming liquid formula with pleasant lavender essence. It is gentle for sensitive skin and the entire family, but tough on germs. Keep a bottle at every sink to keep your hands clean AND healthy.$11.00 As low as: $10.00
Have smooth skin instantly! This long exfoliating wash cloth is now my favorite way to physically exfoliate skin on the body.$6.00
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Brighten your complexion with the extra clean that comes from using a gentle and non-drying toner after washing your facial skin.$31.50
Deeply quench and hydrate dehydrated skin with rich, organic oils direct from Mother Nature. Our Face Booster Oil, Sensitive Skin Formula combines the most-effective, calming and non-fragrant plant oils for the best results.$44.00
Mother Nature is an amazing chemist and sometimes just what the doctor ordered! My Omega Enriched Booster Oil combines ingredients that help calm inflamed and irritated skin while restoring a weakened skin barrier with essential fatty acids.$44.00
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Safe, Non-toxic and Zero-VOC Surface Cleaner that is ideal for People with Sensitive Skin. Know that your home cleansing products are certified to USDA Organic Standards and made with only plant-based ingredients in a fragrance free formula.
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***50% of Profits donated to Breast Cancer Awareness***
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Oil-free and oil control ultra-light and tinted matte technology in a hypoallergenic sunscreen – it’s the holy grail for oily and sensitive skin AND it’s elegant for all skin types too! Contains iron oxide too making it the best sunscreen for melasma.
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Good looking and high-performance sun protection for kids.
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Natural non-nano mineral zinc oxide sun protection in a deeply hydrating base for your delicate lip skin. Prevent skin cancer and future wrinkles with daily use of sunscreen. That means lips too. Ever notice older lips are pale, shriveled, dry and chapped all the time. That’s sun damage. Just say no by wearing lip sun protection 365 days a year.$28.00
Hydrating mineral powder for a luminous, velvety finish to your skin.$30.00
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Two lovely, soft shades to invoke a natural looking, delicate health-radiating glow to your skin (without the sun!).$17.00
Long lasting and creaseless eye shadows with a velvety-smooth, natural finish.
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