Reactive Skin and Our Obsession with Cleanliness


Would you be surprised to learn that 69% of American women identify as having sensitive skin? What if 85% of French woman and 91% of Italian women claimed the same thing? It turns out to be true, according to statistics mentioned by a recent article published by the Globe and Mail. A thorough reading of the article reveals that reactive skin is a growing problem across the world, yet we might be causing the problem ourselves via our obsession with cleanliness.

Contributing author and dermatologist Sandy Skotnicki laid out a very compelling case using plenty of hard data along with her own experience as a dermatologist. She maintains that the expansion of the beauty and cosmetics industry since the early 20th century has created an obsession among the general public with being clean. She maintains that obsession has altered the balance of the skin originally intended by nature, thus leading to sensitive skin and conditions like eczema and dermatitis.

Skotnicki’s arguments are well reasoned. Surprisingly, she doesn’t take a stand for or against all-natural and organic skincare products or their synthetic counterparts. Her argument is essentially one of moderation. Whether you use soap and water or an alpha hydroxy serum, practice moderation in all things.

Increased Reactions to Skincare Products

After introducing her piece by telling the story of a patient suffering from a persistent rash, Skotnicki cited statistics relating to reported reactions to skincare products. According to the FDA, 291 reports were registered in 2013. That number jumped to 436 in 2014, 706 the following year, and an astounding 1,591 in 2016.

Skotnicki stresses that the numbers reflect only the number of cases reported to the FDA. This suggests there are likely many more cases out there that go unreported. And if you look at the numbers in relation to the volume of skincare products sold, a surprising correlation emerges.

Other correlations start to appear as well. For example, more and more people are suffering from eczema – a condition that was largely unheard of 70 years ago. Everything from sensitive skin to allergies have increased as the cosmetics and beauty industries has expanded.

An Easy Solution

Let us assume that Skotnicki’s assertions are correct. Is there a solution? Absolutely, according to Massachusetts-based Poethique. As a company specializing in all-natural beauty products made with organic ingredients, Poethique is committed to producing health-conscious products that help women achieve their personal beauty goals without harming the skin.

Poethique’s alpha hydroxy serum is recommended as a twice daily product for gentle exfoliation and skin balancing. When used as directed, Poethique says it will perform as advertised. The key is to use it as directed. Such is the solution for the reactive skin problems Skotnicki talks about in her piece.

The solution is to use our health and beauty products according to manufacturer instructions. And if any product’s instructions seem a bit excessive, it never hurts to do a little research on your own. Moderate use of skincare and beauty products allows them to do what they are designed to do without being overbearing. And when a person reacts to a given product, the obvious solution is to stop using it.

An alpha hydroxy serum by itself is not going to harm most people. Nor is regular soap and water. But the excessive use of either one can be problematic. The lesson to be learned is simple: do not obsess with cleanliness as an alternative to good hygiene. Absolutely embrace good hygiene principles, but don’t obsess with always being clean. Give your skin the break it deserves.