A question from Susan who is suffering from sensitive skin that hasn’t yet been tracked down to a specific cause.
My face seems to have become very sensitive to everything creams & makeup I have lost count of the products I have used & the money I have wasted. I asked the doctor what was the most common thing that is put into products that can cause a reaction that’s how I came across your blog, which has now send my head into a tailspin as you say that natural is not always the answer. I am awaiting patch testing to see what is causing reactions but I’m desperate for a moisturiser for my face at the moment all that I can use is a steroid ointment which is very greasy & can only use once a day. I was hoping you could recommend any products I could look at to use or any websites that will help.
Well to answer the last question first, there are no end of websites that talk about sensitive skin problems and offer solutions. Unfortunately the web isn’t really the best forum for this kind of thing and you have already done the most sensible thing by going to the doctor. Even patch tests aren’t 100% reliable, but they are the best tool we have for discovering what it is that is causing your problem so it is good that you have that in hand.
In the meantime, there isn’t much I can say to help. Everyone is different and your skin might well have a unique set of problems. But there are five rough and ready suggestions I can make with the proviso that they are suggestions only and you need to be very aware of what you are putting on your skin and observe the effects closely.
- Avoid products that claim to be natural. Natural products, if they are genuine, will contain a wider variety of chemical entities, so on the shear law of averages are more likely to have something in them that might disagree with you. If you like natural products, and some are good, you can always go back to them once you know what it is that you are allergic to.
- Avoid products that are very expensive. These tend to have more ingredients, so increasing the risk of having something that might be a problem to you. They also tend to be more highly fragranced and to use more natural fragrances which again have a higher risk of triggering a reaction.
- The preservatives that are least likely to give you problems are methylparaben, propylparaben, methylisothiazolinone and methylchoroisothiazolinone. In my experience these elicit very few reactions. Sodium benzoate seems to trigger off more than other preservatives. It hasn’t been my experience, but talking to other formulators the whole family of preservatives to which sodium benzoate belongs seem to give more problems. These are potassium sorbate, sodium anisate and sodium levulinate.
- Avoid face creams with an SPF. These will be greasier than necessary.
- Shea Butter is a good. It absorbs very well giving a good emollient effect without leaving the skin too greasy.
The trouble with this kind of advice is that I have to be very general and it may turn out not to apply to you at all. But I hope that it is of some use. To give some positive suggestions, Oilatum Lotion unfortunately does have potassium sorbate but has a high level of shea butter. Neutrogena Light Night Cream is rather expensive, but might be worth a try. Another option is to use a cleansing oil, for instance the No.7 one, but they all work in much the same way.
Best of luck and I hope the diagnosis helps you get your skin under control.