Study Finds Cetaphil Products Safe For Sensitive Skin

Study Finds Cetaphil Products Safe For Sensitive Skin

Do you have a sensitive skin? Do you find it difficult to find products that don’t irritate your skin? If so, recently published study by Staci Brandt and Dr. Peter Lio may offer some hope.

As I mentioned in the previous post talking about the use of makeup on acne, the regulations concerning cosmetic and personal care products labeling is very lax. Terms like hypoallergenic and noncomedogenic are not regulated. Anyone can claim their products are hypoallergenic, and they can do that without testing the products. This puts people with sensitive skin at a difficult position, and often your only choice is to test different products to find some that work with your skin.

So I’m very happy to see testing done on these products. In this study the researchers tested 10 different Cetaphil products on over 2000 men and women.

The products were tested with what’s known as repeat insult patch test. In practice this means the products were applied on the skin for 24 to 48 hours, 3 times a week for 3 weeks. This procedure tested irritancy of the products. Once the irritancy tests were done, skin sensitization was tested 2 weeks later. In the sensitization test, the same products were again applied to the skin (after the 2 week washout period).

The results showed that none of the products caused skin irritation or sensitization, thus they were deemed as hypoallergenic. Many of these products contain some comedogenic ingredients, which further shows you shouldn’t pay too much attention comedogenicity of individual ingredients in finished products – as I talked in the makeup post.

Here are the products they tested:

You might want to consider those as an option if you are looking for something to use on sensitive skin.

I should say that one of the study authors, Stacy Brandt, works for Galderma, the company that makes Cetaphil products. I wouldn’t take this to mean that the study is invalid. The other author was an independent doctor, with no disclosed conflicts of interest, and it was published in a reputable journal. The study was also very large, the products were evaluated on over 2000 people. If the company was just looking for a study to prop up marketing material, they wouldn’t need it to be this big. So I’m inclined to take it seriously (that’s why I wrote about it).

About Me

Hi, I am Acne Einstein(a.k.a. Seppo Puusa). I'm a bit of a science nerd who is also passionate about health. I enjoy digging through medical journals for acne treatment gems I can share here. You can read more about my journey through acne and how I eventually ended up creating this.

8 thoughts on “Study Finds Cetaphil Products Safe For Sensitive Skin”

  1. I find these results surprising, considering some of these products contain Sodium Laureth Sulfate and fragrances, both irritating to acne-prone skin as well as sensitive skin.

    • You have to consider the dosage. I made the same error as you did now when I wrote the SLS causes my scalp acne post. It’s true that SLS can be irritating, and it’s used as an irritant in skin care studies, but it doesn’t automatically mean that brief exposure to low concentrations would cause irritation.

      As it was with comedogenicity, you have to look at the entire formulation. You can’t deduce from the ingredients alone that a product is comedogenic or irritates the skin.

  2. I can vouch, from my own experience, that at least the Cetaphil Moisturizing Lotion is good for my skin. I just recently asked Seppo (from the dry skin post) about recommendation of green tea lotion for my (sensitive/Rosacea-prone) skin with adult acnes… I have been using that lotion for years and it does NOT irritate my skin at all. However, Seppo is also RIGHT about the comedogenicity!! Because my biggest problem now is not the redness, but the small acnes/zits on my face. Meaning, besides other internal problems, my pores are clogged easily.. So, Cetaphil is good, but DO WATCH OUT for the amount that you use, especially when you have to be outside under the hot/humid summer!!!

  3. Seppo,

    Thanks for the information! Every cleanser I’ve tried turns my face red, irritated, and very dry. Do you know why that might be? I might try one of these.

    How often should I be cleansing if my skin is this sensitive?

    Thank you.

    • Most of the time surfactants are what causes irritation in cleansers. They are a necessary evil. They are what causes the cleaning action but they also strip away the protective oils from the skin.

      I would suggest cleansing your skin with honey for a few weeks to give it some time to recover. After that you can try cleansers again.

      How often to cleanse? You have to experiment to see what your skin can tolerate but probably no more than once a day, and more likely less frequently.

      • Seppo,

        Thanks for the reply. I had tried cleansing just once a day, and I only use my fingers to lightly scrub but it still turns my face red and blotchy.

        The problem is that I want to start swimming again this summer. I will need to cleanse the chlorine from my skin after swimming or it will be really dry!


        • It sounds like your skin is sensitive to something in the cleansers, probably the surfactants. Please talk to a dermatologist about doing a patch test to identify the problem ingredient(s). Until we know what your skin reacts to it’s hard to do anything about it.

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