Is the "Allergen of the Year" in Your Natural Skin Care Product?

natural skin care product allergen

The American Contact Dermatitis Society just announced the new, rising-star allergen. They do this annually for allergens that are causing more and more allergic reactions. For 2017, the winner is...... Alkyl Glucosides!

Does your natural plant-based skin care product contain the alkyl glucosides?

Alkyl glucosides are a sweetheart ingredient for many natural skin care lines. They are,

  • biodegradable,
  • derived from plants (coconut, palm and rapeseed oil), and
  • less irritating than their chemistry cousins in the sodium lauryl sulfate family.

These alkyl glucosides are found in rinse-off products like shower gels, shampoos and hair dyes. They are also found in leave-on products like sunscreens, fragrances, moisturizers, and deodorants.

  • Leave on products have lower alkyl glucoside concentrations (around 5%).
  • Rinse off products have higher concentrations (33%).

Smart Skin Care Tip:  This concentration difference is pretty normal and tells you why you want to rinse off rinse-off products well!

Why is this naturally-derived skin care ingredient becoming such an allergen?

It is because plant-based skin care products are trending in popularity. The more you expose your skin to a potential allergen, the more likely you are to develop an allergic reaction. The classic example of a natural allergen is poison oak and ivy, both of which contain a common allergen – 100% natural and commonly an allergen.

Remember before you were allergic to poison oak/ivy and you could get exposed without getting a rash? Then, all of a sudden, exposure lead to the allergic rash. That’s how your skin’s immune system works with this type of allergic reaction (called delayed hypersensitivity). The popularity of plant-based natural skin care is causing more and more allergic reactions to plant based ingredients, like alkyl glucosides.

What are other names for members of the alkyl glucoside family that can cause skin allergy?

  • Lauryl glucoside
  • Decyl glucoside
  • Cocoa glucoside
  • Cetearyl glucoside

Also, the sunscreen Tinosorb M contains decyl glucoside as a component ingredient!

Who is most at risk for allergic reactions to alkyl glucosides?

Anyone, but especially people with sensitive, allergic skin called atopic dermatitis (the classic type of eczema that runs in families). You can be prone to atopic dermatitis even if you never had eczema. If eczema, asthma or seasonal allergies run in your family, you may be prone to atopic dermatitis. And therefore, you may be classified as an atopic with sensitive skin who is at higher risk to allergic reactions to things such as alkyl glucosides.

How many natural products contain alkyl glucosides?

A scientific study just published looked at the top 20 sunscreens and facial moisturizers sold on Amazon, and they found 15% contained alkyl glucosides. Of the 20% best-selling facial sunscreens alone, 10% contained them. The bottom line is that allergic reactions are part of life. To minimize your risk, chose products that are specifically formulated to be hypoallergenic. There is no hard and fast rule for what can be labeled as “hypoallergenic” so seek advice if you have sensitive skin.

natural skin care product allergen information

It is my goal that the products at are primarily hypoallergenic. Many are technically also "natural". I am passionate about creating that rare bridge between the gaps of hypoallergenic, natural, pleasant to use, and highly effective. It's what I personally want for my skin care, the skin care that I provide for my patients and that I create for you here at Dr. Bailey Skin Care. - Dr. Cynthia Bailey

Some of my uniquely hypoallergenic, natural AND smart skin care options include:

natural face hand and body lotion hypoallergenic

My fragrance-free Natural Face, Hand and Body Lotion and Natural Face and Body Butter Cream. These can be used for face and body by the entire family. They are ideal for people with sensitive skin. I craft these with organic plant-based ingredients minus the alkyl glycosides and other notorious "natural" allergens!

Natural Omega Enriched Face Oil hypoallergenic

My Omega Enriched Face Oil is a great skin conditioner to enhance skin barrier strength. I love to boost the benefits of my facial moisturizer by adding a few drops to it at bedtime. This beautiful Face Oil also helps keep a man's facial hair smooth and soft, and fights beardruff

best natural soap product without allergens

Natural skin cleansers without allergens include my Naturally Best Bar Soap and Natural Shower Gel. These entirely natural products are made with organic plant-based ingredients, are fragrance free and alkyl glycoside free! 

These are high-performance and truly natural products that are ALSO hypoallergenic, free of alkyl glucoside (decyl glucoside), great for men and women and the entire family - and created by a dermatologist for people with sensitive skin. 

Author: Dr. Cynthia Bailey M.D. is a Board Certified dermatologist practicing dermatology since 1987. She has done well over 200,000 skin exams during her career and authors the longest running physician written skin health blog in the world.

“I love empowering people to take good care of their skin by educating them and putting the ‘self-care’ into their skin care so that they love the skin they’re in!” Dr. Bailey


Boozalis E, Patel S, “Allergen of the Year” alkyl glucoside is an ingredient in top-selling sunscreens and facial moisturizers, Journal of American Dermatology (2017), doi: 10.1016/ j.jaad.2017.10.013.