We would initially think that unscented lotions are free of any perfumes, however, these products often use a “unscented” scent to mask the scents of its ingredients, thus adding more to your lotion than what you bargained for. Dermatologist Leslie Baumann, MD states that some companies use preservatives in products that have a scent, but are still able to label their products as “fragrance-free.” However, these are your best bet to try, but always be sure to test product on your inner wrist before slathering it on after a shower.
The most frequent ingredients that can cause reactions (and thus to be avoided) are: cinnamic alcohol, cinnamic aldehyde, eugenol, hydroxy-citronellal, geraniol, isoeugenol, and oak moss absolute.
Many of us today are looking to go more “green,” and often look for products that are not animal tested or made of natural ingredients. It may be a first instinct to grab a bottle of “natural” lotion or liquid make-up, presuming it is good for our skin. Unfortunately, there is no set standard definition for companies in their branding, so “natural” can mean whatever they wish it to. Some companies produce sincere natural products, others just use it to increase revenue.
Despite our greatest desires for a true firming product to turn back time, there is no standardized test for “firming” lotions, creams, or make-up. Baumann indicates that often times claims that a product will firm your skin are based on “subjective consumer perception,” and often come without scientific backing. Your best bet is to hydrate your skin thus giving the appearance of firmness. Look for products with humectants, aka a substance that absorbs or helps retain moisture, such as hyaluronic acid and glycerin.
Hypoallergenic according to the dictionary means “unlikely to cause allergic reaction: not likely to cause an allergic reaction.” In the beauty word, it has a much less significant meaning, so much so that this unregulated term is often plastered on products without the necessary testing. Technically, hypoallergenic testing means that a company would do “patch tests” (testing a small area of skin) on a subject group of 100-200 people, and wait days to weeks to assess skin reactions.1 There is no strict regulation by a governing body on this testing either. Furthermore, there is no single sensitive skin “type” in which to tailor a product to. If you are sensitive to acne and breakouts, be sure to avoid oil-containing products. If you have dry or burning skin, avoid alcohols and acids.
Just when our beauty beliefs have been debunked and we feel as we have been duped, there are truly some standards to which you can search for on your products. Third-party organizations help to provide a standard to which products who carry the seal must be held to.
For example, in order for a beauty product to be labeled as “organic” it must meet the USDA’s standard, which is that it must contain at least 95% ingredients that are certified organic (natural and grown without certain pesticides or fertilizers). Some brands that meet this criterion include: Origins Organics, Juice Beauty, Revolution Organics, Organicare, Organic Essence, Nature's Gate Rainwater Organic lotions.
The Natural Products Association has also come up with a seal, products of which contain at least 95% natural ingredients, which is defined as renewable flora, fauna, or minerals that have not been processed using synthetic chemicals. Burt's Bees, Aubrey Organics, and J.R. Watkins are just a few companies who carry this seal.
Ecocert, a French company, also maintains a label, indicating that products must contain at least 95% natural ingredients; at least 10% certified organic ingredients and (which I think is cool) environmentally conscious packaging. Some labels that carry this seal include: Physicians Formula Organic Wear Makeup, Care by Stella McCartney skincare, some L'Occitane products.
Lastly, Whole Foods Market Premium Body Care (yes the grocery store), has its own label that indicates that its approved products have "primarily" natural ingredients. There is no specific qualifying percentage, so be wary on this one! Some products from EO, Alaffia, and Ikove have earned this seal.
For the truly conscientious consumer, you may also choose to create your own products from your refrigerator and pantry, which you can then be assured have only all-natural ingredients. As for myself, I am lucky to only have sensitive skin when it comes to shaving, so I can vouch that the best shaving cream and after shave spray to reduce to eliminate the shaving “burn” is by the “Coochy Cream” line. I know the name is off-putting, but I swear by it, and have for years. Find their fragrance-free and fragranced shave cream, and after-spray, on Amazon.com to ensure safe browsing and buying.