Frequently Asked Questions
“Sensitive skin” is a term used by individuals who perceive their skin to be more reactive or intolerant to skincare products than the general population. It is a self-diagnosed condition. There is no clear medical definition or accurate diagnostic tool for “sensitive skin.” Individuals with “sensitive skin” most typically experience stinging, burning, itching, or tightness when a skincare product is topically applied.
General recommendations for individuals who have “sensitive skin” include:
The use of skincare products with the fewest ingredients.
Avoidance of skincare products that contain retinoids or alpha hydroxy acids.
The use of fragrance free moisturizers, cleansers, or sunscreens.
The use of physical sunscreens (those containing titanium dioxide and zinc oxide) over chemical sunscreens.
The use of soap-free cleansers (either a mild cleansing bar or a mild liquid cleanser.)
A thorough evaluation by a dermatologist.
Anti-wrinkle creams ARE moisturizers. These products increase the water content of the skin, temporarily improving the appearance of very fine lines, especially around the eyes where skin is very thin. Imagine if water is pumped into a raisin, it becomes a grape! The grape may be firmer with fewer lines but the change is only temporary. Unfortunately, more pronounced facial wrinkles and skin folds have not been shown to be corrected by the application of moisturizers. Refer to Anti-Aging for more information.
Parabens are among the most commonly used preservatives in cosmetic products today. They are used to protect skincare products from bacterial overgrowth. Although parabens are generally well tolerated and have a low sensitivity rate, isolated incidents of allergic reactions to parabens have been reported. Thus, individuals with suspected preservative allergies or sensitive skin might be advised to use paraben-free products.
Parabens might be the most controversial ingredients in skincare products today, but also some of the most vigorously tested. Parabens have been safely used as a preservative in the food, drug and skincare industry for almost 100 years. In 1984, the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR), an industry sponsored organization that reviews ingredient safety, again reviewed the safety of methyparaben, propylparaben, and butylparaben. The CIR has re-evaluated the safety of parabens since their initial studies and FDA scientists continue to review published studies on the safety of parabens. To date, they conclude, there is no reason for consumers to be concerned about the use of skincare products containing parabens.
Sun Protection Factor (SPF) is an indication of how much a product can protect the skin from sunburn (UVB rays.). When applied appropriately, SPF 15 sunscreens block 93% of the suns UVB rays, where SPF 30 sunscreens block 97% of the UVB rays. Beyond SPF 50, which provides about 98% protection from UVB rays, the increase in ultraviolet protection is negligible. Because there is insufficient data to show that products with SPF values higher than 50 provide greater protection for users, the FDA has proposed a cap of SPF 50. To date, the FDA is still reviewing this issue.
SPF ratings do not give any indication of how well a product protects against UVA rays (those that cause skin aging and skin cancer.) The American Academy of Dermatology recommends that broad spectrum (protects the skin from both UVA and UVB rays) sunscreens of SPF 30 or higher be used.
Refer to Sun Facts for more information.
It means nothing! The word “hypoallergenic” is a marketing term that manufacturers use to imply that a product is less likely to cause an allergic reaction. Consumers are led to believe that these products contain few or no irritating ingredients, thus producing fewer allergic reactions. In actuality, there are no federal standards, guidelines or definitions that govern the use of the term "hypoallergenic." Manufacturers are not required to submit substantiation of their hypoallergenic claims to the FDA.