The struggle of sensitive skin, unfortunately, doesn’t end once you’ve (finally) mastered your skin-care routine. The simple act of washing your clothes, dishes, and even your hands can be a challenge when your skin is easily prone to irritation. Thanks to added ingredients, like dyes, fragrances, and other chemicals in detergent and soaps, your skin can sometimes be covered in chronic dry patches, rashes, and uncomfortable itchy skin.
“[Most household essentials] have an alkaline pH and can disrupt the outer skin layer, leading to dryness and inflammation,” says Joshua Zeichner, the director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. “True soaps, including dishwashing detergents, can be harsh on the skin.” In order for your skin to ward off infections and toxins, it needs to be slightly acidic and the alkaline pH in traditional soaps can strip the acid from your outer layer.
Picking the right skin care products for your sensitive skin shouldn’t be a guessing game, but labels can be confusing. “I recommend products free of dyes and fragrances,” says Boston-based board-certified dermatologist Christina Weng. We sought out the help of several dermatologists to help figure out which everyday products are best, without compromising on your preferred level of clean.
New York City-based board-certified dermatologist Michele Green recommends steering clear of products that contain alcohol, ammonium lauryl sulfate, and sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS). You’ll also want to make sure that the product label says “fragrance-free” as opposed to “unscented.” “Products that are labeled ‘unscented’ actually can contain extra chemicals to mask the original scent and artificially create a neutral odor,” Weng tells Allure.
Additionally, according to New York City-based allergist and immunologist Lisa Ellman-Grunther, skin irritation or inflammation may be the cause of an allergic reaction. “I have seen reactions to many ‘natural’ products, which contain food and plant allergens, as well as fragrances and parabens,” Ellman-Grunther says, noting these are common causes of contact dermatitis (a red, itchy rash that is caused by an allergen or irritant). New York City-based board-certified dermatologist, Howard Sobel further explains. “Contact dermatitis can occur when your skin has an allergic reaction to something you’ve applied topically, even if you are unaware of an allergy. Hypoallergenic, fragrance- and oil-free formulas won’t irritate sensitive skin.”
To avoid these unpleasant outbreaks, read on for the best dermatologist- and allergist-approved soaps, detergents, and cleaning supplies for sensitive skin.
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