Everyday Products and Your Skin

Dr. Seth Forman is here with some great advice. Why is it that there are so many products out there that can cause skin problems? It’s the result of the artificial everything! So many products contain artificial fragrances, artificial colorings and preservatives, which can cause contact allergies.

The most obvious chemicals to avoid are:


Fragrance Mix

Balsam of Peru


Formaldehyde – shampoos

Parabens – cosmetics, skin care products

Imidazolidinyl Urea – shampoo, cleansers, cosmetics

Quaternium-15 – preservative in cosmetics and skin care products

Hair Dye

Paraphenylenediamine (PPD)

Cleaning Products: Cleaning products may contain preservatives such as Formaldehyde, Parabens, Imidazolidinyl Urea and Quaternium-15 can cause contact allergies. Additionally, true soaps can cause the skin to dry out. Try using non-soap cleansers instead. Avoid cleaners and soaps with the contact allergens.

Laundry Detergent: Laundry detergents remove important oils from the skin and can allow for extreme drying and contact irritation.  Use gloves or avoid touching detergent while doing laundry.

Receipts (from stores): Receipts are coated with Bisphenol A (BPA). BPA was once used in plastic bottles, but has been banned from that use due to long-term health risks. BPA has been proven to cause reproductive defects in fetuses, infants, children and adults, as well as cancer, metabolic and immune problems in rodents, according to one study by Frederick vom Saal, professor of Biology at the University of Missouri.

Avoid touching receipts directly and ask for them to be placed on the counter for review, and then ask for it to be placed in the shopping bag.

Certain Makeup: Some makeup may contain preservatives such as Formaldehyde, Parabens, Imidazolidinyl Urea and Quaternium-15 and can cause contact allergies. Find preservative-free cosmetics or go au natural.

Plastic Containers: Examples of plastics contaminating food have been reported with most plastic types, including styrene from polystyrene, plasticizers from PVC, antioxidants from polyethylene, and acetaldehyde. Try finding/buying products in glass or metal containers.

Air Fresheners: Fragrance mix, ethyl alcohol, isopropyl alcohol, toluene, formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, styrene and others. Avoid spraying directly at a person or pet. Use sparingly. Try other natural ways to freshen the air – bake cookies, bake a cake, fresh brewed coffee are just a few ideas!

Coffee: There is nothing in coffee that causes direct damage to the skin. However, coffee drinkers must also balance out consumption with consumption of water in order to avoid dehydration. Coffee is a natural diuretic (makes you pee), and that fluid must be restored. Dehydration can cause general dryness and flakiness of the skin.

Your Cell Phone: This is a growing concern. High Energy Visible (HEV) light is the light emitted from cell phones, iPads, Tablet PCs and computer monitors. We do not yet know the effects of HEVs, however, it may lead to skin cancer and premature aging (wrinkles).

Certain Hair Products: Known contact allergens formaldehyde and parabens are preservatives commonly used in shampoos. Look for preservative-free shampoos.

Sunglasses (that haven’t been cleaned): Bacteria can collect and may cause superficial skin infections and irritations.

Dirty pillowcase/sheets: Pillow cases and sheets can be a vector (carrier) for head lice and body lice. Therefore, ask for clean sheets upon arrival to a hotel, even the five-star hotels have had reported outbreaks.

Wax (for waxing body parts): Extreme waxing can cause denuding of skin (removal of skin) along with the intended hair. Use caution if you do it yourself. Find a good salon and stick with that person if she/he is good.

Plastic on your dry-cleaned clothes: Perchloroethylene is a solvent used in dry cleaning. It may cause a contact allergy or irritation. Look for clothing that can be machine washed at home.

The best way to treat an allergic reaction is to AVOID the allergen (thing that causes the allergy). A recurring rash or irritation is a great reason to consult with a dermatologist specializing in inflammatory diseases. We can oftentimes assist in getting to the root cause. However, be prepared for your appointment and keep a log of new exposures — this is how we can help you best!


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