Natural Products Superior to Synthetic, Dermatologist-Recommended Products for Sensitive Skin

A man using a cream medication
A man using a cream medication
The one area where synthetic products outperformed nature-based products was in hydration.

A regimen of nature-based, whole formula products for sensitive skin outperforms a regimen of synthetic, dermatologist-recommended sensitive skin products for patients with cosmetic intolerance, rosacea, or eczema/atopic dermatitis, according to a study published in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology.

In this double-blind study, researchers evaluated the tolerability and efficacy of a whole-formula, nature-based, skincare regimen for sensitive skin (NR) that contained glycerin, natural oils, and botanical anti-inflammatory ingredients, compared with a dermatologist- recommended regimen of synthetic products for sensitive skin (CR) that contained cetyl alcohol, a glycerin and polyisobutene-containing lotion, and a cleanser containing sodium lauryl sulphate. 

Participants (N=120) were randomly assigned to use NR or CR twice daily for 4 weeks. Blinded investigators and participants rated overall appearance of skin using a 5-point scale at baseline and at 2 and 4 weeks (0=none and 4=severe). Noninvasive tests for skin barrier function and skin hydration were made by transepidermal water loss and corneometry, respectively.

Participants in the NR group experienced a 34% improvement in skin appearance as rated by investigators vs a 4% improvement for the CR group (P <.001), with similar results found for visual and tactile smoothness, radiance, and clarity. Both groups experienced similar improvements in barrier function (17% NR and 15% CR, P =NS). The one area where CR outperformed NR was in hydration; CR increased hydration by 21% from baseline to week 4, whereas NR only maintained hydration (P <.001). There were no clinically significant issues with tolerability found with either regimen.

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Study investigators concluded that, “This work suggests that nature-based whole formulas… may be an attractive alternative for dermatologists to recommend to some subjects with sensitive skin. NR provides both the performance characteristics necessary for the management of sensitive skin as well as addresses a growing demand for the nature-based skincare formulations.”

Disclosures: Dr. Draelos is an investigator for Burt’s Bees, Dr. Levy is a Burt’s Bees consultant, and Ms. Lutrario and Dr. Gunt are employees of Burt’s Bees.


Draelos ZD, Levy SB, Lutrario C, Gunt H. Evaluation of the performance of a nature-based sensitive skin regimen in subjects with clinically diagnosed sensitive skin. J Drugs Dermatol. 2018 Aug 1;17(8):908-913