There is no worse feeling than getting a product you have seen in every magazine and all your friends have tried and loved, then when you use it you end up with a terrible reaction.
The skin is our largest organ and I has been reported that it can come into contact with over 100 different chemicals daily just from the products we use. So it is not surprise that many women are opting for a more ‘natural’ alternative, but can we really trust these companies to keep us completely safe.
Firstly it is important to mention that there is no agreed meaning for the word natural in cosmetics, just because a label says natural it does not mean it has had any more rigours testing or even proof that less harmful chemicals or process are used.
Some women will experience sensitivity to products and this can range from a mild reaction of redness or pain to life threatening injures or even death due to an allergic reaction, therefore it is important to know could be risky and which ingredients to avoid.
There are strict regulations and formulations are tested to make sure they do not cause harm to the general public however this does not mean that no one will have an adverse reaction.
An allergen is described as a particle, which the body responds to inappropriately after repeated exposure. This means you will not have a reaction the first time you are exposed but the body will treat it like an enemy the next time it comes into contact with it. This is different to an irritation with usually less severe and localized reactions.
When purchasing new products, and if you know you have sensitive skin, the most important place to look is the ingredients list. This will give you the bulk of the information you need to decide if the product will be good for you. Do not be put off by long or complicated Latin chemical names. If you know what you are allergic to (soy for example), make sure you know the chemical composition of that and their Latin names and look for those in the ingredients list. Many times you will not find soy, but one of the chemicals in soy that might give you allergic reactions.
Most allergens and irritants are found in the preservatives and fragrances used to give the products a long shelf life and nice smell. Hair dyes are also a big culprit. Some companies will not list their exact ingredients and in my opinion there should be no secrets when it comes to your skin or scalp. A lot of these fragrances may come from plant extract which is why they are considered natural but can still cause a reaction regardless of where they are derived.
Some common irritant to look out for are Treenuts, Gluten, Oats, Soy and Wheat, some preservatives, Fragrances (many of them extracted from natural sources), Sodium layrl sulphate, Alcohol and Paraphenylenediamine (PPD).
They may be listed with their common name or disguised using the full Latin name. It is important to take ownership and research the products you use.
Carrageenan for instance are a family of linear sulphated polysaccharides that are extracted from red edible seaweeds. They are widely used in the food industry, for their gelling, thickening, and stabilizing properties, but they are also used in hair products and personal lubricants as thickeners. If you are sensitive to saccharides, be careful when you buy products labeled as natural because many plants contain them.
Also some companies will claim to be free from these main offenders but use a compound that is very similar. If you get a sample of a product, always complete a patch test before trying a new product and list the ingredients of those that have caused you problems so you can avoid them in the future.
At Shtrands, each of our customers has a unique profile where she can list any chemicals or ingredients they are aware of to be sensitive to. We are making sure that these ingredients are not present in their products and help them figure out the chemical names of them.