For my daily cleanse routine, it’s a double cleanse and simple moisturizer. This is all it takes for a reaction free, healthy glow. In addition to having a great cleanser routine, I have tried many “safe for me” anti-aging serums in the last few years and with many sensitivities, I can’t find any that leave me reaction free. If I find one, I’ll update you! For now, here’s my best daily face cleansing routine. Try it – you might love it!
I’m in my 40’s and have used high-end, anti-aging skincare for YEARS, you might be shocked to know that this group of products from CeraVe are all I am currently using and make my skin ☀️GLOW☀️ like never before! I encourage you to look these items up in the SkinSafe database. The majority of them are 100% allergen-free, and all are marked Safe for Me! If you don’t have an allergy code from SkinSafe yet and have been patch tested, email your allergens to email@example.com for a custom code. The PAC helps filter your allergens out and lets you know which products are safe for you vs. not safe for you. On their website, it will highlight in RED ingredients that are unsafe to help you learn to read ingredient lists – super helpful skill.
The First Cleanse
1. CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser 🧼 I use this as a lotion – I rub a quarter size amount around my dry face and eyelids and then use a warm moist cloth (my fav is the Jane Iredale Magic Mitt) to gently remove it. This cleanser feels like a creamy lotion and magically removes all mascara and eyeliner gently! 👏🏻
If you’re not used to removing your makeup like this, it can take some getting used to, but promise PROMISE you will love it and be amazed at how easy it is to remove your makeup now.
Some may enjoy using the CeraVe Foaming Cleanser, but due to my sensitivity to Niacinamide, I cannot use it. My husband and teens use it though and really like it. It might be a great option to keep in your gym bag if you shower after exercising as it’s more of a one-stop-shop instead of a double cleanse routine!
There are two other really awesome lotion-balm-type cleansers I have used and really love. The first is Clinique’s Take The Day Off makeup remover balm. I love love LOVE this. It literally melts the makeup right off, including waterproof mascara. It reminds me of cold cream, but oh so much better. Give it a shot and let me know what you think!
The second is Avene Tolerance Extreme Cleansing Lotion. I love this as well. It is definitely a lotion, but on a dry face it also cleanses quite well and for skin that is irritated, it would be extremely gentle. I used this for almost six months and really enjoyed it.
The Double Cleanse
2. Vanicream Body Wash 🧼 I use a nickel-sized amount of this on my Jane Iredale Magic Mitt to wash away any remaining residue from my makeup and the hydrating cleanser (or Take the Day off balm / Avene Cleansing Lotion). I can’t believe how effective this is and my face does not feel dry, just clean.
3. CeraVe Daily Moisturizer 🧴 In the summer months, I follow my daily cleanser routine with this moisturizer after washing my face. This is the perfect daily moisturizer and can be used for the entire body!
4. CeraVe Moisturizing Cream 🧴 Think of this as the most luxurious night cream you’ve ever bought. With hyaluronic acid and ceramides, it just about is!! I use it at night after my daily cleanse routine and daily morning moisture in the dry winter months. You can also use this as an eye cream with its excellent hydration qualities. I have other great moisturizers I suggest on my safe list and my favorite product list!
That’s it! This is my favorite skincare routine I’ve had. Let me know if you try it and how effective it is for you!
Wool Dryer Balls cost less than $20 and are really becoming all the rage recently. These three little balls are designed to cut drying time in half and reduce static cling. Unlike traditional dryer sheets, these dryer balls have no chemicals and are reusable for up to 1,000 loads!! I’ve had mine for almost 5 years and with a family of six, that’s a lot of laundry!
Replace Your Fabric Softener
These three little balls I hold in my hand are also the path to NO FABRIC SOFTENER. And for those of us with Allergic Contact Dermatitis, that spells major relief. Fabric softener is full of fragrance and chemicals. Just walk into any consignment store and you’ll immediately know what I mean. The stench is real!
I love to buy my children special things on consignment, but lately, I can’t even walk into the store. And if I buy things online for them, once they arrive, I can’t even touch the article due to the fabric softener. It’s nearly impossible to get the stench of fabric softener out of clothes. I soak and then wash and wash and still smell.
Most feel their fabric softener is a delicate scent and presents their clothes as clean and well cared for. However the smell of fabric softener is a strong odor. Many have just been desensitized to their particulr smell. To help you understand, during your next grocery visit, go and smell another brand of fabric softener and you’ll probably find that brand smells way off and strong. In reality, all fabric softener smells strong. And guess what, you don’t even need it. It adds a coating on your clothes that actually makes them wear out easier and carry more stains.
Replacing Fabric Softener with Wool Dryer Balls
Using Wool Dryer Balls is really simple. Just toss in 3 wool dryer balls at a minimum – for my large loads, I use 6-7 balls – into your dryer with your clothes. While your clothes are tumbling around in the dryer, the wool dryer balls work to separate the items, allowing the air to circulate evenly and more efficiently. Also, over-drying your clothes can lead to static buildup. Wool dryer balls are absorbent, helping to reduce dryer time and making static cling a thing of the past! You’ll love using them.
Cost-effective and Healthy!
Cost-efficient and healthy for you and the environment? That’s something I can really get behind. Pair these with my other favorite laundry solution – Nellie’s Washing Soda and Oxygen Brightener. Happy Laundry Day!
Have you had a recurrent rash or maybe had Eczema since you were a young child? Maybe you’ve used topical steroid creams for itch and rash for as long as you can remember, but it’s “ok” because it keeps your symptoms at bay. Maybe you even saw dermatologist after dermatologist for your rash (like I did before a proper diagnosis), but it’s just “eczema,” so it’s no cause for concern. It could actually be Allergic Contact Dermatitis.
About 16 years ago (although I think it might have been way back in my teen years), I began to notice patches on my eyelids and what I thought was just “scratchy dead skin” on my hands and knees. These patches on my eyelids would thicken and get crusty and itchy, and then the skin would go through a terrible healing process.
To me, it looked like I had packed on the eyeshadow heavy that day. I sought out a dermatologist who told me it was most likely nail polish remover or maybe the eyeshadow I was using. Change brands was given as a suggestion. About a year later, I welcomed my second son into our family, and my itchy eyelids became much worse.
Dermatologist Visits with no explanation
I saw another dermatologist hoping for an explanation. Steroid creams were prescribed. Later that year, without relief and in a lot of misery, I went to my asthma/allergy doctor out of frustration. He felt confident what I was struggling with wasn’t in his field, and luckily he sent me to the local “patch test guru,” as he called him. I thought fantastic! Answer to all my problems.
My Personal Journey
In 2006, after the long, tedious chemical patch testing process, I was diagnosed with three contact dermatitis allergens. The words Formaldehyde, Fragrance, and Gold allergies entered my world. My dermatologist handed me a simple paper with some crazy words on it. Avoid these ingredients, he said, and you’ll be much better. I had so many questions. How could Formaldehyde be in products I was using? I only use high-quality skincare and salon-quality hair care. Fragrances, what does that mean? Is it just avoiding wearing perfume? How can I be allergic to Gold? I don’t even wear gold very often. Questions, I learned, weren’t really something that his office answered a lot of at the time.
The dermatologist’s office gave me some smallish-sized samples of products by an allergy-free product company. To me, a lover of all things PERSONAL CARE PRODUCTS, I thought MY life was over. My hair felt coarse, dingy, lifeless. Makeup – what would I do without makeup? OVER.
This was before the internet had really taken off. There wasn’t a lot of information out there readily available at my fingertips. SkinSafe, CAMP lists were not available to me. Learn to read ingredients! my patch test dermatologist told me. Ugh. Learn I did, but I really didn’t have a full idea of what I was trying to avoid at the time.
What is Patch Testing anyway?
First, what patch testing isn’t. Patch Testing is NOT skin prick testing, which an allergist does. I’ve had prick testing as well, and this is not that. Prick Testing is done on your back and finishes in a single visit. It is a test for your body’s histamine reaction to a substance placed just underneath your skin by pricking it open. Prick testing, while not PAINFUL, is really uncomfortable. This type of reaction is called Type I Hypersensitivity. Type I allergies are reactions related to histamine in your body. I talk about the different types of allergies/hypersensitivities in my blog post What is ACD? You can also watch this short YouTube video about Type IV hypersensitivity.
Ok, so now that we know what patch testing isn’t, what exactly is a patch test.
Type IV allergic reactions are not caused by histamine like Type I allergies. Type IV allergies are a cell-mediated response. This response involves the interaction of T-cells in your body. The reaction you see on your skin is caused by helper T cells recognize an antigen (ingredient) as a foreign invader. These T cells then set out to destroy these foreign invaders on contact. This can present with damaged tissues and inflammation. Type IV hypersensitivities can be resolved with avoidance of the ingredient your body has deemed an invader.
It can all sound pretty confusing, but it’s basically a case of identity theft! Your body has decided that an ingredient safe for most is not safe for you. This can happen in several ways, but generally, it’s an ingredient you’ve used daily for years, and the repeated exposure has now set you up for Allergic Contact Dermatitis. It’s why we should be cautious with ingredients patch test dermatologists know can be the most irritating to the skin as that’s the first step to becoming sensitized.
Variety of Patches
Patch tests don’t use needles like a prick test. Instead, allergens and individual personal care products are applied to patches on your back. During a patch test, your skin may be exposed to up to several hundred extracts of substances that can cause contact dermatitis. These can include latex, ingredients in medications, fragrances, common personal care preservatives, metals, resins, and common workplace-related allergens.
Patients wear these patches on their back for 48 hours. You must avoid anything that can cause you to sweat and no bathing/showering during this time. You return to your patch test dermatologist’s office to have them removed. Your patch test derm will mark your back like a map when they remove your patches. Best to have a family member take a photo of your back from many angles with clear pictures. This will help you in the future. You will then leave and return in another 48 hours for a final read of your patches.
Patch Test Pro Tips
• Bring any products you use daily with you to your initial appointment. Also, take pictures of reactions you may have to share with your dermatologist. They can only help you if they know the full context of what you are dealing with.
• Take clear pictures of your back “map” on day 3. These pictures will be a guide for you in the coming days. Any red/irritated spots showing on Day 3 are considered irritants. In my experience, avoid irritants in addition to true allergens. Irritants can often turn into full-blown allergens in the years to follow with recurrent use.
• Request a detailed “map” of what allergen is placed in each location on your back to associate it with your photos. You, after all, can only be your best advocate if you have all the information presented to you. These are YOUR medical records. Politely ask for all of the detailed sheets related to your patch test, including dr notes. I did this more than 10 years after my initial test and was stunned to find all of my allergens were not disclosed to me.
• Be sure to have a family member take a back picture every day of your “map” for up to 2 weeks after your final read. It is not uncommon to have very delayed reactions. If you notice one, note it and contact your patch test dermatologist. Some patch areas where you are extremely allergic to the allergen can linger for weeks and even months at times. This is normal.
• Finally, find a patch test dermatologist who has the capability to do thorough patch testing. If you are only given 20-30 patch tests (or a TRU Test), you may truly be missing the full picture of your allergic contact dermatitis allergens. Do it once and do it right!
You may know someone who is in need of this specialized patch testing; maybe it’s you! In Louisville, Kentucky, where I am, my fantastic patch test dermatologist is Dr. Todd Rickett at Forefront Dermatology. You can find a local-to-you-guru at www.contactderm.org
Real-life talk. I can’t drink Tea anymore. Tea is basically Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract. Me and unsweet tea, we were pals like BIG pals. Best Friends. Inseparable. My only real vice. I gave up soda years ago – like 2007 – so me and unsweet tea, we were big BFFs. The only thing I drank besides water and my one cup of coffee (I’m still unsure about coffee being well-tolerated for me, more on that later), But for now, we’ve had to break up. Enter major sad face. Like I know, being diagnosed with Allergic Contact Dermatitis (ACD) isn’t equal to so many out there suffering from disease, and I definitely want to keep that in perspective. But these last few years dealing with ACD has taken me to new levels of extremes I didn’t know existed.
With Sensitive Skin, Eczema, Atopic Dermatitis, and Allergic Contact Dermatitis, finding allergy-free body care products safe to use can be a real challenge – if not a near impossibility!! I wanted to put together a go-to list of SAFE products for this community. This list you can quickly access when you’ve just been diagnosed or to keep your environment clear of sensitizing ingredients like fragrance.
One goal I have for The Allergy Life community is to learn about new, life-changing research. I came across some this week and it has my head spinning! I’m not a physician by any stretch, but have been leaning in as much as possible to research physicians in the skin health industry. I share below some of the largest takeaways from this concept I have been learning about. I’ll entitle it simple Leaky Gut or Leaky Skin? If you know someone who just had a baby – pay CLOSE attention.