ISO the most hypoallergenic moisturizer around
December 20, 2008 5:01 PM   Subscribe

After an allergic reaction, I'm in need of the absolutely most gentle and hypoallergenic moisturizer in existence ever created by man or nature. (Not Eucerin, because that's what caused the reaction!) Any suggestions?
posted by footnote to Health & Fitness (40 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Maybe try some jojoba oil? You can get it at Whole Foods.
posted by guniang at 5:12 PM on December 20, 2008

posted by inconsequentialist at 5:16 PM on December 20, 2008

I have an Avalon Organics moisturizer that has aloe in it, and is scent and dye free. Maybe that might work for you.

Also, yes, I like just jojoba oil. You can find it at a bunch of places.
posted by at 5:17 PM on December 20, 2008

+1 for Cetaphil
posted by meta_eli at 5:18 PM on December 20, 2008

I've used plain shea butter for several years. Straight cocoa butter is also nice (and makes a great leave-in hair conditioner too, when applied to damp hair right after washing). They are both solid at room temperature: Just scrape out a little -- maybe a pea size bit -- and rub it between your hands to warm and melt it, then apply like any moisturizer. It's good as a nighttime thing right before bed. Can be a little oily, so if you use it in the morning you'd want to apply it then wait half an hour or so for it to soak in before putting on any makeup.
posted by cuddles.mcsnuggy at 5:32 PM on December 20, 2008

Vanicream is what you want. It is the moisturizer of choice for people with serious skin issues such as psoriasis, eczema, ichthyosis, etc. They also make a number of other products that may interest you, such as bar soap, shampoo and conditioner, "lite" lotion, etc. You probably won't find them in your drugstore--I order mine from
posted by HotToddy at 5:39 PM on December 20, 2008

Just now I'm dealing with a very itchy bout of winter eczema, so it's Cetaphil for washing followed by regular olive oil for moisturizing.
posted by notquitemaryann at 5:46 PM on December 20, 2008

Cetaphil made me break out, FWIW. I use Oil of Olay now and it seems to be ok so far.
posted by runningwithscissors at 5:51 PM on December 20, 2008

posted by nadawi at 5:55 PM on December 20, 2008

Face or body? Where is the rash/reaction? Have you had dry skin or allergy problems before?

I think that first and foremost you need to avoid fragrance, and not just "perfumed" lotion, but anything with any fragrance, including Eucerin and many/most lotions out there. I personally do not like Cetaphil, I find it greasy and not very moisturizing. My standard recommendation (assuming you're looking for a body moisturizer) is Curel for Sensitive Skin. It's fragrance free, not greasy, and very moisturizing. It's really important to apply liberally right after you towel off from your shower. ANYTHING is likely to give you a rash if your skin is totally dry when you apply it, at least that's the case for me.
posted by robinpME at 6:08 PM on December 20, 2008

It might also be a good idea to check with your GP or a dermatologist about the causes and best treatment for the allergy and to find out what products you should avoid in the future. Products like Eucerin are meant to treat the type of problem you have. If the lotion is the cause, you would probably want to avoid others that are similar.
posted by inconsequentialist at 6:30 PM on December 20, 2008

Aveeno is what I use; it was recommended to me by a nurse in my allergy clinic after I had a massive reaction to Eucerin. Fragrance free, and with collodial oatmeal (also useful to bathe with when I've got hives). It's gentle, moisturizes pretty well, and so far I've never reacted to it.
posted by faineant at 6:31 PM on December 20, 2008

I use Aquaphor and have the stupidest, most sensitive skin ever. I actually buy the CVS brand because it's a few dollars cheaper.
posted by chiababe at 6:53 PM on December 20, 2008

I threw out every moisturizer I had, with all their funny ingredients. I got a small glass spray bottle, filled it with extra virgin olive oil, and my skin is perfectly happy.

It is an inexpensive thing to try (as all you will have to do is go to your kitchen to get a dab)

Also, it feels very sexy and Italian goddess-like to use olive oil.
posted by Vaike at 7:05 PM on December 20, 2008

- Jojoba oil should be pretty effective, and mild.
- Cetaphil recently changed the composition of some of their products and I think they are much more fragranced and abrasive now.
- What I really recommend is aqueous cream, which is not readily available in the US, but you can get it online.
posted by cocoagirl at 7:11 PM on December 20, 2008

Gamma Cream?

posted by yoyo_nyc at 7:13 PM on December 20, 2008

I was going to suggest olive oil as well. I've heard fab things about it.
posted by Stewriffic at 7:20 PM on December 20, 2008

I'm allergic to Eucerin, too ... and Cetaphil, and Curel, and, for my face, the Aveeno linked above.

But I can use the non-scented Aveenos (green, dark blue, and burgundy cap colours - burgundy is my favourite, as it's incredibly emollient) for body and Oil of Olay Complete All Day Moisture Cream SPF 15 for Sensitive Skin for my face. They don't quite qualify as completely hypoallergenic, though, because everyone's allergic to different things/combinations, and even these can get a reaction from my skin from time to time. If you haven't yet, you may want to confer with a dermatologist and/or allergist to figure out what can cause reactions for you. I say that, but I haven't managed to do this for myself, yet, so take that as you will.

Now that I've read about this Vanicream stuff, I really want to try it. Would you mind updating if you try it?
posted by batmonkey at 7:21 PM on December 20, 2008

Jojoba is supposedly the closest thing to sebum mother nature makes.
That said, if you'd asked me when I was working at a healthfood store I would've handed you Emu Oil.
posted by piedmont at 7:59 PM on December 20, 2008

nthing the olive oil. If you want a more lotion-y lotion rather than straight olive oil, you can easily make your own. I do, using this recipe and it's very nice. If you can't find emulsifying wax locally, I get mine here.
posted by dogmom at 8:00 PM on December 20, 2008 [1 favorite]

Olive oil. No contest.
posted by flabdablet at 8:06 PM on December 20, 2008

I have incredibly dry and sensitive, fair skin, and I have great success with Cetaphil and its generic equivalents--but for cleansing, not moisturizer. (And certainly not the variety that's made for oily skin, which is not gentle.)

For moisture, I'm a big believer that you get what you pay for. I use Prescriptives Comfort Cream (no fragrance or color whatsoever, very very emollient but no SPF) or Anti-Age (slight color, no fragrance, SPF 25, extremely emollient but not greasy). Prescriptives is usually available only at department store cosmetics counters. These products run between $30-60. I'm 39 but regularly get mistaken for 30.
posted by ImproviseOrDie at 8:13 PM on December 20, 2008

+++jojoba. It's the only moisturizer I use anymore.
posted by Constant Reader at 8:54 PM on December 20, 2008

Lubriderm has a hypo allergenic lotion, perfumes drive me nuts and I've not had any problems with it. Read the ingredients however, it may be analogous to Eucerin.
posted by Ponderance at 8:58 PM on December 20, 2008

[Severe eczema here] I use the Cetaphil cleanser, because every moisturizer gives me some kind of reaction. I've been using Puraderm Hair & Body after a contact reaction though, and it seems to soothe my skin faster than anything else.
posted by chana meira at 9:16 PM on December 20, 2008

N-thing Cetaphil for general use. For face and eyelids, I use Jergens Ultra Healing, Extra Dry Skin Moisturizer. There is a version currently on sale, but I use an older version that sticks around longer and seems to be excellent for over-dry skin. It is fragrance free and the most gentle and effective moisturizer that I have ever used.
posted by Susurration at 9:31 PM on December 20, 2008

Try California Baby Super Sensitive Lotion. My son went through a ridiculously sensitive to everything stage when he had eczema, and this stuff didn't irritate his skin at all. I've also used it and liked the way it feels.

Do you have any idea what it was in the Eucerin that you reacted to? That would help narrow down contenders.
posted by Joh at 9:39 PM on December 20, 2008

I'm in the same boat as you. I've had allergic reactions to most cosmetic products, often breaking out in to rashes and hives. Add to that rosacea, keratosis pilaris, and adult onset acne and you can see how I've spent most of my 35 years on this planet trying everything I can get my hands on.

A few things I want to point out:
1. Just because it says "all natural" or "organic" on the label, that doesn't mean it's hypo-allergenic. Most people with sensitive skin will tell you it's all those harsh chemicals that cause your skin to sting, burn, and break out. For me, it's the organic ingredients. I finally figured that out a couple of years ago when I went in for a facial. When the lady put that mango mask on my face I thought I was going to cry. If you're allergic to any plants at all, I would steer clear of any plant-based cosmetics. Stick with the chemicals - trust me on this one.

2. Everyone is different. What works for me may not work for you. The Prescriptives Comfort Lotion burned like hell and the foundation made my eyes red and tear up. Clinique made me break out, Bare Escentuals made me itch like crazy. On the other hand, I have yet to find an Estee Lauder product I can't use. Cetaphil itched and burned, but some of the Lubriderm and Dove stuff was ok. Unfortunately, this is one you're going to have to figure out on your own.

3. Keep it simple. If you're not sure what makes your skin freak out, stick with single ingredients. For me, jojoba oil is best, especially in winter. Unfortunately I moved to Finland and I can't find it anywhere, so I use the next best thing, olive oil. If your skin isn't that dry, apply it to wet skin. It spreads farther and won't feel as greasy.

If oil isn't your thing, you can always go see your friendly local dermatologist. Mine gave me this, which is better for summer when my skin isn't as dry. I'm sure they have something similar in your neck of the woods.
posted by ValkoSipuliSuola at 10:49 PM on December 20, 2008

Another vote for Aveeno body lotions. Oatmeal and I really agree.
posted by NikitaNikita at 12:45 AM on December 21, 2008

My friend was recommended Glaxal Base by her doctor. Supposedly it is the base that other moisturizers are made of and is thus as scent- and additive-free as you can find. All the other "hypo-allergenic" moisturizers gave her a reaction, but Glaxal Base works with no issues.
posted by sid at 6:04 AM on December 21, 2008

Thanks for all the ideas. Olive oil seems to be the consensus suggestion. But won't I smell like a salad?

Do you have any idea what it was in the Eucerin that you reacted to? That would help narrow down contenders.

I think it was either the lanolin or the preservative methylchloroisothiazolinone/ methylisothiazolinone, which is apparently quite nasty but used in Eucerin products for some unknown reason.
posted by footnote at 7:03 AM on December 21, 2008

Wanted to pop in a vote for vitamin E. Oil/capsules.
posted by sadiehawkinstein at 7:29 AM on December 21, 2008

You won't smell at all with olive oil, just be careful to work it in so your skin isn't shiny. I use it on my hair as well (ends only, 4 minutes, wash out well)

Olive oil works for me both in winter and summer, although I put it on twice a day in winter and only once in summer.

Even though olive oil is my personal favorite, I don't think you can go wrong with other single natural oils as well, so you might want to play around a bit.
posted by Vaike at 8:51 AM on December 21, 2008

I'm allergic to most lotions and have eczema. I can't use cetaphil or eucerin; one of them I'm allergic to and the other doesn't do a damn thing to help my very dry skin. For some reason Lubriderm's sunscreen (the label is purple) doesn't freak my skin out. It's one of the few lotions I can use every day. Olive oil makes me break out, but almond oil is a little lighter, soaks in better, and is wonderful, as long as I use it only about twice a week. Whatever you try, I'd put it on a fairly small patch (or just one arm or whatever) for a few days and see how it goes rather than slathering it everywhere and hoping it's okay...
posted by doubtful_guest at 11:31 AM on December 21, 2008 [1 favorite]

Cetaphil lotion gives me rashes. The face cleanser doesn't, and I have used it as a moisturizer. It's very light, which I like.

Aquaphor and Aveeno both work for me but not so much on my face--they're both pretty heavy and I tend to have oily skin. For the rest of my body they're great.

If you ask around some of your friends probably have some lotions you can try, or you can get trial sizes so you don't have to commit.
posted by sondrialiac at 11:59 AM on December 21, 2008

A previous dermatologist said that vitamin E is actually a major irritant for many people. It is for me, and it drives me nuts how hard it is to find anything that doesn't have lanolin, vitamin E, or artificial fragrance in it. You're just going to have to try everything, probably, because no one can recommend to you anything based on anything except their own skin. :/ (I have eczema of the kind that seems to stem from a lack of a proper barrier on the top of my skin. Everything I tried appeared to make things worse until I read about barrier lotions, so now I use barrier lotions such as Gloves in a Bottle immediately after my bath and washing in the morning.)
posted by wintersweet at 1:14 PM on December 21, 2008 [1 favorite]

i have problems with lotions/detergents etc... What do I use? Nature's Gate Fragrance-Free Moisturizing Lotion for Sensitive Skin. So, so good.


Purified Water
Safflower Oil
Aloe Vera
Glyceryl Stearate
Avocado Oil
Vegetable Emulsifying Wax
Extracts of Comfrey, Cucumber and Ivy
Jojoba Oil
Xanthan Gum
Soy Protein
Panthenol (B5)
Vitamin E
Coffee and Wild Pansy Extracts
Oils of Myrrh and Lemon Grass
Citric Acid
Methylparaben Natural Sunscreens (anti UVA and B)
posted by slograffiti at 1:32 PM on December 21, 2008

Vitamin E oil, either from a bottle or by breaking open the capsules and squeezing the oil out. It's quite viscous and messy this way, though.

Cetaphil is okay, too, but I get wary of anything with more than a couple of ingredients when my skin is acting up.

-21 year eczema-sufferer, at your service.
posted by rachaelfaith at 2:29 PM on December 21, 2008

cocoagirl - do you have a reference for Cetaphil changing? Are you talking about the one that looks like come? I've been haunting Galderma for years, through some institutional changes, and so far they have not changed the formula.

I have a little bottle, a few years old, that I use for travel and that label reads exactlythe same as a big bottle of that I bought a month or so ago.

(If they have changed, I can fall back on CeraVe.)
posted by Lesser Shrew at 6:59 PM on December 21, 2008

Make sure you patch test anything if you are sensitive. It's rare, but people can have contact reactions to olive oil. Vitamin E is a known allergen for some people. I personally find olive oil way too heavy and prefer jojoba. I think oils alone are more effective on wet skin because it is much easier to spread a thin amount.
posted by oneirodynia at 10:34 PM on December 21, 2008

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