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Thursday, February 9, 2012

Do These Three Allergens Affect You?

Some are even allergic to the lovely lavender
What about allergies?  Often, customers come to me because they are allergic or sensitive to the commercial products they use, and are hoping that mine will be kinder to their skin.  Often, it's true.  Products crafted with natural oils and other ingredients may be just the ticket for sensitive skin.  Unfortunately, as much as I would like that to be true, it isn't always.

The fact is that people can experience sensitivities or allergies to any number of substances, either natural essential oils or synthetically created ingredients.  What's worse is that they can show up at any time.  A product that you have used for years may suddenly cause a rash.  Your threshold for tolerating a particular ingredient has been crossed, causing a problem for your skin.

(Please note that I will be using sensitivity and allergen interchangeably in the rest of this piece, even though they are not the same.  It just reads better and whether you're sensitive or allergic, both are negative reactions.)

Nevertheless, some substances are more likely to be culprits than others. My first suspect when people speak of reactions is scent, or fragrance oils.  Scents are made up of an unknown number of components, both natural and synthetic, and are proprietary, meaning that only the developer knows exactly what they contain.   The International Fragrance Association (IFRA) is constantly working to keep fragrances as safe as possible, but it is unlikely that it will ever be possible to create fragrances that no one reacts to.  Moreover, if it is not synthetic fragrance, then it might be essential oils, which are derived from various parts of vegetation.  Just as we may or may not be allergic to Poison Ivy, we may or may not be allergic to other plant matter.

If the problem is not due to scent, it may be due to color or a preservative.  A small percentage of the population is sensitive to some preservatives, which hold down microbial growth in products.  Some are very allergic to various colorants.  Virtually any other ingredient, with the exception of water, is on the list of possible allergens or irritants, as well.

What's a person to do?  One method of determining sensitivity is to dab the product in the inside of your forearm, just below the elbow.  Cover with a bandage and go to bed.  In the morning (or sooner, if it bothers you), remove the bandage and check the spot.  If it is red and irritated or itchy, something in the product does not agree with your skin.  Wash it off well and take note of the ingredients.  With time and careful notes, you may discover the offender.

It is important to be very careful if you suffer from many sensitivities.  Taking a bath using a soap you're sensitive to is going to be a bigger problem than a dab on your arm, so do the test with any new product. Read product labels carefully if you know your allergens so you can avoid them.  If you purchase handcrafted products, tell your vendor that you have many sensitivities and list those you know.  Your soapmaker extraordinaire might head off troubles at the pass by steering you toward or away from certain products. Keep in mind that the manufacturer is responsible for accurate listing of ingredients and you are responsible for checking before using and using them safely.

Good business owners want to please thier customers and provide safe products.  I strive to do just that.  Realistically, however, I know that it would be impossible to manufacture a product that no one is sensitive to, so I want to make my customers aware of the possibility.  Together we can keep reactions to a minimum so that you can have the most beautiful, healthy skin possible!


Weekly ad

Clearing out lotions!  All 8 oz. bottles I have in stock are a whopping 25% off. Regularly $12, now only $9  Scents include:
This isn't one of the scents on sale, but  the can looks like this.

Gingered Orange (orange with a bite of ginger)
Black Raspberries & Vanilla (nice berry scent)
Spun Sugar  (cotton candy sweet)
Sultry Sandalwood Vanilla (smooth sandalwood with a bit of sweet vanilla)

Valentine's Soaps:  each bar is $5; package of three conversation hearts is just $10

In addition, orders of $75 and up get free shipping.

Sale good until 2/18/12.  Orders right around Valentine's Day may be delayed.

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