Very dry, irritated skin might seem like something only adults get, but eczema is not uncommon among small children. Kids Eczema Balm from Skinfix claims to gently and effectively treat that issue with this thick cream, and actually gets a lot right with its formula. Unfortunately, a couple of potentially problematic ingredients keep this from earning our recommendation; instead this only gets an average, two-star rating.
Kids Eczema Balm is a cream that comes in a plastic tube with a flip-top cap. This balm is designed more as a spot treatment instead of an overall cream, and you can tell why; the main active ingredient here is zinc oxide (15%), which means this is quite thick and will leave a strong white cast on skin. While this ingredient is known mainly for its use as a sunscreen, it's also a great anti-irritant that can serve to soothe inflamed skin—and inflammation is one of the hallmarks of eczema.
Sweet almond oil, colloidal oatmeal, and allantoin round out the active ingredients in this formula, and they're all effective when it comes to treating eczema, regardless of your age. Like zinc oxide, oatmeal and allantoin are effective anti-irritants, and sweet almond oil is a skin identical ingredient that will help repair a damaged skin barrier. As far as inactive ingredients go, this has good emollients like shea butter and sunflower oil. Skin will certainly feel smoother, softer, and less flaky after this is applied!
The reason this isn't getting a higher rating, though, is that this formula includes styrax, balsam tolu, and benzoin. These are all fragrant balsam extracts that can serve as skin irritants. While they aren't present in a huge amount (in fact, they're toward the end of the ingredient list), keep in mind this product is designed for people with damaged skin barriers; any amount of potential irritation could do further damage. This is particularly true of children's skin, which is still developing and is more sensitive than adult skin. See the More Info section for additional details.
That's a shame, because otherwise Kids Eczema Balm would definitely have earned our recommendation because of its mix of anti-irritant and emollient ingredients. Instead, we suggest considering some of the options on our list of Best Sensitive Skin Products.
Note: Despite the fact this contains a high amount of zinc oxide, it isn't formulated to work as a sunscreen. Sunscreen actives require careful dispersion and formulation to function as a sunscreen active, so don't look to this to do double-duty as an SPF.
Irritation from High Amounts of Fragrance: Daily use of products that contain a high amount of fragrance, whether the fragrant ingredients are synthetic or natural, causes chronic irritation that can damage healthy collagen production, lead to or worsen dryness, and impair your skin's ability to heal. Fragrance-free is the best way for all skin types to go for all skin types (Food and Chemical Toxicology, 2008 & American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, 2003).
The sneaky part about irritation is that research has demonstrated that you don't always need to see it or feel it for your skin to suffer damage, and that damage may remain hidden for a long time (Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, 2008).
In fact, the effect of inflammation in the skin is cumulative, and repeated exposure to irritants contributes to a weakened skin barrier, slower healing (including of red marks from breakouts), and a dull, uneven complexion (Aging, 2012 & Chemical Immunology and Allergy, 2012).
Canadian-based Skinfix is part of a growing number of skincare brands targeting a particular niche. Instead of trying to solve every skincare issue out there, it has a very specific target audience; in this case, it’s people who have chronically dry, sensitive skin that’s prone to issues like eczema and contact dermatitis.
The brand’s site begins, as many do, with an origin story that relates the tale of Thomas Dixon, who crafted his own healing ointment for dry and cracked skin in England back in the 1850s. The formula was passed down for generations, and the Dixon family continued to make it after they moved to Nova Scotia decades later, where they eventually sold it in pharmacies. Skinfix as a brand didn’t come into being until 2006, when Dixon’s great-great-great granddaughter decided to make the concept into a skincare company, with the focus remaining on treating chronic skin issues and very dry skin.
For the most part, Skinfix gets it right. The majority of its products are fragrance-free and contain beneficial plant oils, skin-identical ingredients, and anti-irritants in rich, thick balms that will serve to soothe and treat cracked, dry skin. The line also includes gentle cleansers that are mild enough even for use on babies and children, whose skin is still developing.
In fact, the only misstep is the inclusion in a handful of products of fragrant tree resins (such as balsam tolu and benzoin) that could irritate very sensitive skin. They aren’t in large amounts in any of those formulas, and those with normal skin should have no issues with them, but for the sensitive skin they are designed for, they are not ideal.
Aside from this, Skinfix is a promising brand, with many products we recommend. The brand is available in the United States at Target, C.O. Bigelow Apothecaries, and diapers.com.
Strengths: Mostly gentle, effective formulas to treat dry, sensitive, or eczema-prone skin; packaging keeps ingredients stable; most products are fragrance-free.
Weaknesses: Some products contain tree resins that could potentially irritate sensitive skin.
For more information, visit www.skinfixinc.com or call 1-866-92-PASTE.
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