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What Beauty Ingredients to Avoid If You Have Psoriasis

Anyone with psoriasis knows that stress and diet can trigger an outbreak. But what you might not know is that certain ingredients found in skin care products or cosmetics can make the situation worse.

Psoriasis is an autoimmune response characterized by patches of red, scaly, itchy skin — and according to the National Psoriasis Foundation, a full 3 percent of the population is estimated to have it. If you’re one of the 3 percent, what can you do to avoid breakouts? Besides avoiding stress and dietary triggers, consider ditching — or at least using with caution — the four skin care ingredients below.

Salicylic acid

People have different reactions to different chemicals, and that’s true even when you have psoriasis. Some psoriasis sufferers have reported that salicylic acid has helped their skin, which is not surprising when you consider that it’s a chemical exfoliant. However, acids can also irritate sensitive skin, so it’s crucial to patch-test salicylic acid before adding it to your beauty regimen.


Commonly found in soaps, toothpaste and shampoo, sulfates are the chemical component that causes products to foam up when activated in your hands. Listed in ingredients as “sodium laurel sulfate” and “sodium laureth sulfate,” sulfates have been known to irritate the scalp along with other parts of the body when directly applied. This can be particularly painful for people with psoriasis outbreaks on their scalp, so seek out shampoos and body washes that say “sulfate-free” on the package.


Still a popular ingredient in toners, face masks and moisturizers, alcohol can wreak havoc on sensitive skin. If you have psoriasis, avoid isopropyl alcohol or denatured alcohol, since both tend to be drying and irritating. Other alcohols, such as cetearyl alcohol, are nondrying and can be beneficial. Avoiding drying components — and using nonirritating moisturizers — is your best line of defense.

Essential oils

While some oils may soothe the skin, others may irritate it. Psoriasis sufferers have long sung the praises of tea tree oil, which has anti-inflammatory properties that help cool angry outbreaks; however, undiluted essential oils have been known to dry out skin and cause burning and redness. Always dilute what you’re using with a carrier oil before applying it to your skin, and do a patch test before applying essential oils broadly.

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