Family Skin Care
By Cynthia Bailey MD. This page was updated on Tue, Apr 21, 2020
Family skin care that is non-toxic, economical and hypoallergenic is a smart choice for many reasons. As a dermatologist I see allergic rashes from many popular allergen-filled skin care products. I also know the adverse consequences of modern chemical exposure - both for us and for the Earth.
Why non-toxic hypoallergenic skin care is right for you, your family and the Earth.
Regulations for personal and home care products are broad and relatively loose, which is not good news.
Many modern skin care and home cleaning products contain chemicals you don't want your family exposed to.
These include 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 towards going clean with your 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.
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. It's called allergic contact eczema, it's common, and you and your family don't need it!
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.
Be efficient and get everything you need in my Naturally Eczema Free Kit!
You can also shop products individually and 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 dermatologically 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 shower gel, 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!
- 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 ultra hypoallergenic 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 Elements 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.
Sheer Strength Pure Physical Sunscreens give you pure mineral broad spectrum sun protection with a light weight feel on your skin. These are,
- non-nano particle sunscreens and,
- non-comedogenic easy to wear modern formulations.
They offer that brilliant bridge between science and nature that can come from top skin care formulation chemistry. All these products are available in my sunscreen and sun protection product collection here.
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.
- 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. You still need sunscreen on shaded skin!
Click here to see the safe sunscreens and sun protection tools that I use for myself, my patients and my family.
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.
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