5 Common Skin Irritants

The other day when I walked down to my local supermarket I was overwhelmed by the number of options that I ‘had to’ choose from with grocery, cosmetics, skincare products and household cleaners. What bothered me most was that not only did I have to make up my mind about which product to buy and which to walk away from, I also had to evaluate what were the allergens that I was exposing myself to! With busy lives like ours, I have very little time to read all labels and comprehend all that they could mean.

To make life a little simpler here are the 5 most common skin offenders that lead to skin irritation.


While fragrances don’t smell like trouble, they are, in reality, at number one. Who isn’t attracted to a sweet fragrance of a skin care product? But did you know that fragrances have over 200 different synthetic chemical combinations that do not require separate labeling-Becomes impossible to identify the offending chemical, doesn’t it? Going the organic and natural way is a better option but be sure that you are not allergic to the natural ingredients present for lavender oil, rose flower extracts, menthol, ylang –ylang etc are some natural but common skin offenders.

Household cleaners

These are numero deux on the skin offenders list. While clearly they are not meant for the skin, we don’t take much care to protect our skin while using these cleaning agents. Chemicals such as Phenol, Formaldehyde, bleach and ammonia are common skin irritants. Cleaning substances contain hydrochloric acid, trichloroethane, while ammonium hydroxide found in carpet cleaning shampoos can cause severe skin irritations. Sodium hydroxide or lye found in oven cleaners is highly irritating to the skin. Nitrobenzene present in furniture polish is very easily absorbed by the skin and can cause severe skin irritation and discoloration. So get those rubber gloves out before you start cleaning!

Facial creams

Before you reach out for that new jar of facial cream you need to be sure that your skin isn’t going to react unfavorably to it. Facial skin is very delicate and can be easily affected because of its deep pores. Facial creams, especially anti wrinkle creams, skin peels or cleansers that contain alpha hydroxy acids, glycolic acid, lactic acid, ascorbic acid, malic acid or parabens can be highly irritating to the skin. Methyl, propyl, butyl, and ethyl parabens found in creams and lotions as they increase the shelf life of your beauty product can cause your skin to flare up.

Personal care products

Your shampoo or favorite antiperspirant could be giving you a skin allergy. Along with fragrances in your antiperspirant the aluminum compounds like aluminium chlorohydrate (ACH) and aluminium zirconium tetrachlorohydroxy glycine are common skin irritants. Opting for a roll- on deodorant as opposed to an antiperspirant is a better idea. Sodium Laureth Sulphate and Quaternium 15 found commonly in shampoos also lead to skin irritations.


Your cosmetic products could be causing your skin irritations. Soaps, lipsticks, foundation or your anti acne gel could be causing your skin to break out. Cosmetic products contain strong active ingredients and preservatives to increase shelf life that can irritate the skin. Your make up applicators can breed bacteria and cause your skin to break out. Your sunscreen might contain PABA (para-aminobenzoic acid) which could make your skin feel itchy and give you a rash.

Identify what your skin offenders are and take proper precautions to stay skin safe!

Write-in and let us know on your skin offender ingredients.

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