A couple of weeks ago, I shared with you all the update on my most recent struggle with eczema. Since then, my skin has gotten MUCH better. Thanks so much to all of you who reached out with your own personal stories, struggles, and suggestions. I truly appreciate your words of encouragement and support.
Even though my skin is better now, it is not cured, and I have had to come to terms with the fact that this is an issue I am going to have to deal with for the rest of my life. It’s hard, even overwhelming, to think of it that way, but I think better that I accept it now rather than just hoping someday I will be ‘normal’ again. I also have become my own biggest advocate for finding a way to not only manage my condition with prescription drugs, but also to find natural alternatives to keep my skin healthy and avoid using the drugs unless absolutely necessary.
For me, one of the biggest pieces of the puzzle is avoiding my known contact allergies. [Just as a refresher, I also have a ton of environmental allergies, food sensitivities and allergies, in addition to the contact allergies.] But it is the contact allergies that make me break out all over like I did a few weeks back, and are what take the longest to run their course before healing.
The one synthetic substance that I am most allergic to is called Methylisothiazolinone, which is a preservative that is very common in tons of everyday products. I mentioned in my original post about my eczema because I was shocked at how many of my “natural” products I found this in in my house – everything from shampoo to laundry detergent, household cleaner to bodywash. It is a common and known allergen, and some studies show it may even be nuerotoxic. The way contact allergies develop is through repeat exposure over time, so anyone can develop a contact allergy to this preservative or other common allergenic substance [such as rubber/latex] with repeated exposure over your lifetime.
Another key thing I have learned in this process is that just because you find a company or brand that claims to be ‘all-natural’ doesn’t always mean that it is or that all products in the line are safe. [Some may be fine, others not so much.] I made this mistake over and over assuming because one brand had one product that was safe for me, I could buy any products from them and they would also be safe. Also, a product being ‘all-natural’ or organic doesn’t necessarily mean it is the safest product for you, especially if you have allergies. In other words, you cannot simply read the front of a package and trust it is safe. The best way to avoid potential toxic ingredients is to learn what to avoid and to learn how to read the ingredients on the back of the labels. Again daunting, I know. So here are some other resources for you to make it just a little easier. Educating yourself is the best way to go! Also, baby steps. Maybe start with just your household products first, then move to your cosmetics, your personal care products, hair care, etc. or whatever order works best for you.
- I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, this article from Goop was what first opened my eyes to how many horrible ingredients are in our everyday lives here in the United States. Honestly terrifying.
- The Environmental Working Group’s [EWG] Skin Deep Database for personal care products [they also have an app!] and and the EWG Guide to Healthy Cleaning. Thousands of products in both places and you can even filter for those that rate well so you know what to buy. The only downside is it doesn’t seem like it is updated often enough, and formulas can change pretty rapidly before the EWG can catch up.
- The Beautycounter Never List. A concise list of ingredients you don’t want to see on any ingredient label for anything you are putting on or in your body.
Ok so clearly I could go on and on about this topic forever. But one of the questions I get asked the most often is what products do I use? This has been a process over the last 2+ years to find things that not only work for me, but are safe and gentle for my entire family. There is no need to buy “baby” laundry detergent, for example, if the laundry detergent you already have is free & clear of all potential toxins, allergens, and fragrances. That is a marketing ploy people, don’t buy into it!
I have talked about Beautycounter before in this previous post. Love, love this company because this is actually one where I do feel like I am 100% safe using ANY of their products because of the rigorous testing they do and the fact that they are so completely transparent with their ingredients and even provide a wealth of other resources about potentially harmful ingredients in the beauty industry right on their website. I just think they are doing so many good things.
Although I wish I could buy all the Beautycounter products all the time, it’s not exactly in my budget. So I use Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser as my facial cleanser. It ranks a 3 on the EWG scale, which is only ok, so I am still searching for an affordable alternative. [The scale is 1-10, with 1-2 being the safest rating, 3-6 being of moderate concern, and 7-10 being high concern.] For an everyday all-over moisturizer, I use 365 Moisturizing Lotion [available at your local Whole Foods in a bottle that looks very similar to the Cetaphil bottle]. This particular product is not in the EWG database, but is free of paprabens and Methylisothiazolinone, and has a majority plant based ingredients.
For makeup, I am currently using mostly Beautycounter products. But I did also recently discover Juice Beauty, who just launched their beauty collection. I just tried one of their face cleansers and moisturizers, and I love their new lip gloss colors too! I can’t wait to try more!
| photo credit: Honest.com |
For everyday, every kind of deep moisturizing needs, I love Honest Healing Balm for the whole family! It is petroleum free and plant based AND it has only nine ingredients. NINE! And I can pronounce them all. Love this stuff. I also use just plain Organic Shea Butter for everyday moisturizing. It’s very thick, but if you warm it up in your hands a bit before applying, it works great.
Another product line I have shared on here before is Wash With Water. Their Barenaked Babydoll line is perfect for very sensitive skin as it is scent free and has all natural, organic ingredients. Some of their other products, like the Sweet Pea and Me collection, are lightly and naturally scented [with no synthetic fragrances]. I can bathe my kiddos in these without having to worry that it might make my eczematic hands even worse. And sometimes I steal it for myself. 😉
cleaning + laundry
Whole Foods has some great products under their own label, but again, always read the ingredients on the back to be sure! We use their All-Purpose Cleaner and their Organic 2x Concentrated Unscented Laundry detergent. [Check your local Whole Foods for both.] Planet Laundry Detergent is also a good one and we also like Planet Dish Soap.
I am still trying to find a new shampoo and body wash that I love, so when I do, I will come back to those for you guys! And I am always looking for new and improved safe products in every category too. So if you have any favorites, I would love to hear about them in the comments below!