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Hypoallergenic Body Wash: What it is and Why You Need it

6 mins

Rahul Bhatia

Some body washes contain harsh ingredients that can cause allergic reactions. A hypoallergenic body wash is packed with gentle ingredients and fewer allergens.

Who doesn’t love a good body wash! 

Unfortunately, not all body washes suit everyone. If you are prone to developing allergies, you could develop an allergy from a body wash. 

Some body washes contain ingredients that are likely to cause allergic reactions. It’s not just people prone to allergies who could develop an allergic reaction to a body wash. Allergies can affect anyone and at any age. 

Sometimes you might use a product for several years, but one particular bottle of that product could cause your skin to break out into a rash. 

Thankfully, today you can choose a hypoallergenic body wash to minimize the chances of developing an allergic reaction while you enjoy a luxurious shower. 

Here’s the lowdown on hypoallergenic body washes, what they are, what they can do for you, and some of the best ones on the shelves today.

Table of Contents: 

  • What is an allergic reaction?
  • Four types of allergic reactions
  • What is allergic contact dermatitis?
  • Potential allergens and irritants in your body wash
  • Am I allergic to my body wash?
  • What ingredients to avoid in your body wash
  • What is a hypoallergenic product?
  • What ingredients does a hypoallergenic body wash contain?
  • Hypoallergenic body wash for sensitive skin
  • Hypoallergenic body wash for dry skin
  • Hypoallergenic body wash for oily skin
  • The best hypoallergenic body wash on the shelves

What is an allergic reaction?

Allergies or an allergic reaction is caused when your body reacts to a specific foreign substance (allergen). An allergen can be something like pollen or pet dander and certain foods or chemicals. It can also be a certain perfume, material, or ingredient in your cosmetics or beauty products.

 

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Allergens themselves are not harmful, but they could cause you to break out into hives or cause swelling, itching, sneezing, and even a runny nose.

Most allergies cause only mild symptoms, but some allergies can cause your body to go into shock.

Four types of allergic reactions

  • Immediate allergic reaction: symptoms appear within a few seconds to minutes from when the body comes in contact with the allergen.
  • Cytotoxic allergic reaction: Symptoms appear anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours from when the allergen comes in contact with your skin.
  • Immune complex-mediated allergic reaction: Symptoms appear only several hours later.
  • Delayed hypersensitivity allergic reaction: Symptoms appear anywhere between a few hours to several days later.

  • What is allergic contact dermatitis?

    Contact dermatitis is an allergic reaction or an irritant reaction to an allergen or an irritant that causes an itchy and/or painful skin rash.

    When an allergen is the cause of contact dermatitis, it is known as allergic contact dermatitis. Fragrances, botanicals, and cosmetic products are some common allergens.

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    When an irritating substance causes the condition, it is known as irritant contact dermatitis. Common irritants are harsh soaps, cleaners, detergents, and acids.

    Contact dermatitis can occur after just one exposure to the allergen or irritant, or it can occur after repeated exposures and over time. Multiple exposures can lead to the condition developing into an allergy.

    Potential allergens and irritants in your body wash

    Body washes are made up of many ingredients – most of which are potential allergens and irritants that could cause allergic contact dermatitis or irritant contact dermatitis.

    Here are some ingredients in your body wash that you could be allergic to:

    • Fragrances
    • Preservatives
    • Antibacterials
    • Colors and thickening agents
    • Chemicals
    • Alcohol

    Am I allergic to my body wash?

    According to dermatologists, you can develop a sudden reaction to one or more ingredients in your favorite body wash, even if you have been using it for years.

    Body washes are used over the entire body and rarely on the face. As a result, the allergic reaction presents as a diffused and patchy rash all over the body but not on the face. You might even have inflamed, scaly, and itchy skin.

    Sometimes, however, the allergy could be localized to a specific area of the body.

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    Allergic and irritant dermatitis are not the same, but they can present with the same symptoms.

    Irritation is caused by “barrier-breaking irritants.” Some body washes have a higher pH than your skin and could irritate the barrier. A patch test can confirm if you are allergic to your body wash or if it’s just an irritation.

    If you have dry skin, irritation caused by body wash can rid your body of its natural proteins and oils. That could leave your skin very dry and itchy. The more you expose your skin to that same body wash, the worse it gets.

    In case of excessive dryness, the sebum glands produce an excess amount of oil to compensate for the loss of natural oils. That could leave your skin oily, with pimples, and maybe even redness and irritation.

    What ingredients to avoid in your body wash

    There’s no telling what can trigger an allergic reaction. Even natural fragrances like plant extracts and essential oils can cause an allergic reaction. 

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    As a rule, avoid body washes that contain high alcohol levels, as they could damage your skin’s natural barrier protection. 

    You can also protect your skin by buying a body wash that does not contain the following products:

    Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS)

    SLS is the most common skin irritant and one of the harshest detergents used in body washes. It is known to cause dry and itchy skin, canker sores, and eczema in people with sensitive skin.

    Propylene Glycol (PG)

    Propylene glycol can cause skin and sense organ toxicity, including skin and eye irritation and dry skin. It can produce eczematous skin reactions of toxic nature, and more rarely, of allergic nature.

    Symptoms of contact allergy can occur days after using your body wash. Typical symptoms are fluid-filled blisters, swelling, redness, and itching. Although PG is safe to use in body washes, avoid it if you can.

    Cocamidopropyl betaine (CAPB)

    Cocamidopropyl betaine is a fatty acid used as a foaming agent. It helps water bond with oil and dirt to be washed off easily. CAPB can cause burning, blistering, and skin and eye irritation. Two impurities – AA and DMAPA- cause CAPB allergies.

    Triclosan

    Triclosan is often used as an antibacterial and antifungal in toothpaste, cosmetics, and even body washes. It is strictly restricted for use in cosmetics in countries like Japan and Canada.

    According to the Contact Dermatitis Institute, Triclosan can cause contact dermatitis, with symptoms showing up days later. Contact allergy symptoms to triclosan include redness, itching, swelling, and fluid-filled blisters. Triclosan is also known to cause allergies in children.

    DMDM hydantoin

    DMDM hydantoin is a chemical used in personal-care products to help them stay fresh for more extended periods. It is a formaldehyde-releasing ingredient that stops or retards the growth of harmful yeast, bacteria, and harmful fungi. Studies have found that DMDM hydantoin is a common allergen that could cause eczema.

    What is a hypoallergenic product?

    A hypoallergenic product is a product that is less likely to cause an allergic reaction. A hypoallergenic product does not contain (or contain very few) ingredients or materials that could be potential allergens.

    allergic reaction to body wash

    There is never a guarantee that a hypoallergenic product won’t trigger an allergy – especially if you have a history of developing allergic reactions to products.

    What ingredients does a hypoallergenic body wash contain?

    Even if a body wash’s label does not specify it is a hypoallergenic product, it might be if it contains gentle ingredients high on its list of ingredients. 

    A hypoallergenic body wash would contain fewer harsh ingredients and more soothing and hydrating ingredients.

    Some of these ingredients are:

    • Dimethicone
    • Glycerin
    • Petroleum
    • Helianthus Annuus (sunflower) seed oil
    • Hydrogenated soybean oil
    • Lauric acid
    • Zinc oxide
    • Oryza sativa (rice) bran oil

    Hypoallergenic body wash for sensitive skin

    When selecting and buying a body wash for your sensitive skin, the fewer the ingredients, the better.

    Look for fragrance-free formulas that will clean and also soothe your skin.

    Ultra-gentle formulas with aloe vera and glycerin are less likely to cause allergic reactions.

    The milder the surfactant in the product, the better. Ceramides and hyaluronic acid-containing formulas are fantastic for extra hydration.

    Niacinamide-containing body washes will help strengthen the skin’s protective barrier.

    If you have eczema-prone skin, choose a body wash that is specially designed for sensitive and eczema-prone skin.

    The label should include terms like “sensitive skin” and “hypoallergenic.”

    Hypoallergenic body wash for dry skin

    Combat dry, itchy skin with a moisturizing and gentle hypoallergenic body wash.

    Avoid products that are heavy on irritating ingredients. Look for products that use terms like “non-comedogenic cleanser,” “hydrating,” “moisturizing,” “hypoallergenic,” and “for dry skin.”

    Invest in body washes containing hydrating hyaluronic acid and restorative ceramides.

    Avoid body washes with parabens, dyes, and fragrances.

    moisturized skin

    Dry skin soaks up hydrating oils like coconut, olive fruit, and castor seed oils.
    Antioxidant-rich products help repair skin and renew skin cells.

    Fatty acids, Shea butter, and natural vitamins are highly beneficial for dry skin.

    Body washes with lavender and cinnamic acid are beneficial because these ingredients have exceptional anti-inflammatory properties.

    Hypoallergenic body wash for oily skin

    You need a body wash that leaves you squeaky clean without drying out your skin if you have oily skin. A body wash that fights bacteria, oily skin, fungi, and breakouts is best for your skin type. Looking for fragrance-free, sulfate-free, alcohol-free, and paraben-free products that clean but don’t dry your skin.

    Essential oils like tea tree and peppermint and organic oils with anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties are excellent for oily skin.

    Sunflower seed oil is rich in antioxidants and fights acne-causing bacteria.

    Look for body washes that are SLS-free and toxin-free.

    Natural ingredients that help maintain your skin’s pH balance are a must.

    Ingredients like activated charcoal are safe and help eliminate excess oil without drying out your skin.

    The best hypoallergenic body wash on the shelves

    WOW Skin Pineapple & Fresh Coconut Water Foaming Body Wash with Shea butter and vitamin E gives your skin the right amount of hydration and nourishment it needs to maintain a healthy glow. Its antioxidant-rich irritant-free formula and natural active ingredients nourish and soothe skin.

    WOW Skin Science French Lavender & Chamomile Foaming Body Wash is ideal for everyday use. While Lavender essential oil provides a soothing cleanse, chamomile essential oil fights toxins. Glycerin smooths and softens skin. This gentle and soothing body wash is free of parabens, sulfate, silicones, and color.

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    WOW Skin Science Valencia Orange & Ginger Foaming Body Wash with Shea Butter & Vitamin E is the perfect body wash for hydration. Vitamin E is an excellent natural antioxidant that helps reduce any skin damage caused by UV exposure. Orange essential oil has a reputation for being a natural skin toner and fights signs of aging. Shea butter restores your skin’s smoothness and elasticity, while ginger and orange essential oils brighten and invigorate your skin. Aloe Vera extracts provide intense hydration to dehydrated skin.

    All WOW Skin Science body washes have gentle formulas that clean and hydrate your skin, leaving it smooth and silky. Click here for more WOW Skin Science body washes.

    Your body wash can cause an allergic reaction – even if you’ve been using it for several years. Avoiding body washes made up of harsh ingredients is the best thing you can do for your skin. Avoid allergic and irritant contact dermatitis by switching to a safe, hypoallergenic body wash. 

    Even if a body wash’s label does not specify it is hypoallergenic, it might be if it contains very few or no allergens. Always read the label and ensure the ingredients high on the list are natural, gentle, and hydrating. Chemicals and harsh ingredients must be on the bottom of the list or not present.

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    Rahul Bhatia

    Rahul is the published author of "Heads Or Tails" and Quora writer with over 1.6 million views. He is a keen observer who enjoys the simple joys of life. He strongly believes true beauty is not how beautiful your face is but how beautiful your heart is.

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    Rahul Bhatia

    Rahul is the published author of "Heads Or Tails" and Quora writer with over 1.6 million views. He is a keen observer who enjoys the simple joys of life. He strongly believes true beauty is not how beautiful your face is but how beautiful your heart is.
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