It isn’t something I think about, however, my eyes were opened at an Allergy Certified event last September (which I attended as my alter ego Miss Lip Balm), where I was shocked to learn how many products I expose my skin, hair, and body to every day that may contain some of the known allergens that can aggravate sensitive skin and eczema – 38 in total. As a sensitive skinned person, I assumed I knew it all!
What was quite an eye opener was the knowledge that we may be exposing children to these known allergens from such a young age that they can end up developing skin allergies once they are older. Let me elaborate on that a little bit further – repeated use of certain allergens can cause skin to become sensitised to it, so that one day using a product you have been using for a long time can suddenly turn on you and cause a skin reaction. Once that reaction has occurred it will not subside until you stop using that product. After the skin has healed, using that product again may trigger an allergic response or using a product containing the allergen you have reacted to, and so on, the cycle continues. So something that didn’t cause skin allergies in the past can become the culprit causing the issue in the future.
Of course, this isn’t the case for everyone, but exposing your skin to known allergens from a number of products can increase the likelihood that a skin allergy or reaction will develop, because the threshold at which your skin remains strong against the allergen may be reached quicker – think of it like a glass of water being topped and then overflowing once full. Sounds like a never ending problem, especially if you don’t know what you are allergic to, which is why it is important for manufacturers need to list all their ingredients in a transparent manner, allowing you, the consumer, to make informed choices.
The advice from the Allergy Certified crew is to minimise exposure overall to known allergens so that it appears in only a few of the products that you use, thereby minimising the risk of developing or triggering a reaction. Their objective is to try and give consumers a choice so they can decide for themselves what products to use and expose their skin to, by advocating manufacturers list all their ingredients, but also have products within their range which have been Allergy Certified (one of the most stringent certifications on the planet).
The Allergy Certified mark means that the product has been rigorously tested and checked for all known allergens, and not just what is listed as ingredients on the product, but also the raw ingredients that will have been used to create it in the first instance, for example some trace allergens may remain from the manufacturing or extraction process of the raw ingredient.
Essential oils are known allergens which can affect some sensitive skin sufferers. My blend contains Jasmine and Rose Absolut essential oils, which contain the allergens eugenol, geraniol, farnesol, linalool, and benzylbenzoate which are naturally occurring in the essential oils, i.e. not added in as part of the extraction or manufacturing process. All ingredients are listed on the bottle, and any trace allergens are listed on the website (I couldn’t get it all to fit on to this version of the label, however I am working on a new label which will).
Having gone through the exercise of working out how much my skin and body is exposed to topical products, and having recently seen how many people I know are suffering from skin allergies and sensitivities, I have started the R&D process to develop a face oil that is suitable for very sensitive skins and is certified by the most stringent body – Allergy Certified – so watch this space. If you are interested to know when this is going to come out, then leave a comment below and I will add you to the list of people first to know when it is ready.