Natural Skin Care Products Full of Allergens

Natural Skin Care Products Full of Allergens

Do you know that natural skincare is all that not natural and comes with allergens? A new broad study by dermatologists at the Stanford University School of Medicine shows that almost all ‘natural’ skin care products sold at three top retailers in the United States contain allergens.

In the study, the researchers found that almost 90 percent of the 1,651 personal skin care products studied – including lotions, soaps, and moisturizers – contained at least one of the top 100 most common allergens known to cause contact dermatitis.


Contact dermatitis is a red, itchy rash that, at its worst, can blister. It is caused by exposure to substances that either irritate or inflame the skin. The latter is an allergic reaction that occurs once the skin becomes sensitized to an otherwise harmless substance.

The researchers say that this uptick in contact dermatitis, a rapidly growing skincare and beauty industry worth billions, and a lack of regulation on its marketing motivated the study.

“The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not defined clean or natural, allowing sellers to freely advertise with these terms that imply safety and health benefits,” dermatologist Peter Young and his Stanford University colleagues explain.

So researchers extracted product ingredient lists from the websites of three US retailers and checked them against an online database that lists common ingredients people with contact dermatitis should avoid. TheAmerican Contact Dermatitis Societymaintains the database.

A typical skincare or cosmetic product may contain anywhere from 15 to 50 ingredients. Research suggests people could be applying over 500 different chemicals to their skin each day, depending on their skincare routine.


In other words, the more products you use, the more you expose your skin to potential allergens.

Many of the allergens identified in the study were fragrances and other botanical extracts – which have become a leading cause of contact dermatitis. On average, skincare products contained between four and five known allergens. In total, 73 different allergens were listed 7,487 times across the 1,651 products studied.

“These results suggest a need to educate patients and health care professionals to ensure the public is informed about the products they apply to their skin,” Young and colleagues conclude in their paper.

Of course, this isn’t the first study examining allergens in personal care products. In 2017, another US study found few moisturizers were free from allergens, and even ‘fragrance-free’ products sometimes contained fragrances, which can irritate the skin.

The study was published in JAMA Dermatology


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