Dispelling Common Skincare Myths

December 22, 2022

By: Anjuli Mehrotra

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Skincare ingredients can be quite confusing for many people who are researching the best products for their skin. Unfortunately, there are a lot of myths and misconceptions out there about skincare ingredients and it can be hard to understand what might work best for reactive skin. To help you separate fact from fiction, let’s take a look at some of the most common skincare ingredient myths as they pertain to allergies and sensitivities.

Myth #1: “Fragrance-free” means products have no fragrance.

Sadly, there are a lot of ways that fragrance sneaks into products. Finding a product that is “fragrance-free” doesn’t always mean what you think it does. Without any regulation, it may mean different things to different brands.

Products are often labeled as “unscented” or “fragrance-free,” but they actually have very different meanings.

  • Unscented: Although these products may appear to be “scent-free,” they can still contain fragrances and masking agents that have compounds that cover up or neutralize the scent of the ingredients. They can also contain essential oils. Essential oils are a BIG category of allergens.
  • Fragrance-free: Fragrance-free typically means that there are no added fragrance chemicals or masking agents. But, it might still have a smell from the raw materials or contain essential oils or other natural plant or fruit extracts that can also be allergenic.

Myth #2: Skincare marketed as “clean”, “organic”, “natural”, or “chemical-free” must be better for you.

To begin with, all ingredients are chemicals — even water! Aiming for chemical-free products doesn’t seem to be the answer.

Clean, organic, and even hypoallergenic categories are not clearly defined and unfortunately don’t get regulated the way that most people would think. Furthermore, there’s no data to show that these are actually better for you from an allergic perspective. Over 90% of “hypoallergenic” products still have major allergens, and that is the major category we thought we could trust!

I want to specifically call out the “natural” category of personal care products. Many people equate natural products with being less allergenic. Allergic reactions can still occur with a variety of natural products, so this is not necessarily helpful for people with sensitive or allergic skin. In fact, according to a recent article in JAMA Dermatology, 94% of natural personal care products have at least 1 major allergen too!

Myth #3: Allergic reactions will show up immediately.

It’s easy to assume that a reaction to a skincare ingredient will show up almost immediately, but this is not typically the case. In reality, it can take as long as several days for a reaction to show up, so it’s important to be patient when it comes to testing new skincare ingredients. If you do experience a reaction, it is important to stop using the product right away and seek medical attention if the reaction is severe.

Some reactions, like hives, are immediate, but a majority of topical skin reactions (aka contact dermatitis) can occur 48-72 hours after exposure, which can make it hard to understand what the trigger is. For instance, it could’ve been a new moisturizer you tried, the scented laundry softener, or even the new earrings that you’ve donned. Unfortunately, this makes it difficult to determine the allergen to remove or even to detect which ingredient, product, or entity the culprit actually came from!

The prolonged exposure time, and often even longer onset time before symptoms appear, make it different from other forms of allergies. For instance, food allergies or environmental allergies produce more “immediate” type reactions, where your symptoms typically show up within minutes of exposure.

Beware of Myths and Misconceptions

It can be tricky to navigate through skincare ingredients as they relate to allergies and sensitivities, and it’s important to be aware of the misconceptions out there.

Evme is a brand that uses science and research to determine the best ingredients for sensitive and allergic skin. Learn more about Evme here.

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