The Exederm 3-Step System for sensitive skin ($34.99)

Both Marta and I have had good experiences using these products: Marta, who had an eczema flare up nicely prevented by the flare control cream ($14.99, 2 oz.) (the main active ingredient being hydrocortisone); and I, with the super-sensitive cleansing wash ($12.99, 8 oz.) and intensive moisturizing cream ($14.99, 4 oz.)

The Exederm skin care line ($34.99 for the 3-step system) is the only line that has been awarded the Seal of Acceptance by the National Eczema Association, and the reasons are pretty clear: each formula uses the mildest ingredients possible with no fragrance, color or dyes, parabens, lanolin, sodium laureth sulfate, propylene glycol, or phthalates. (Read the National Eczema Association’s Product Review of Exederm.)

What's nice about this line is that it is non-comedogenic (meaning it won't clog pores) and can be used on both the body and face, although you should take the usual care to avoid the eye area.

The cleansing wash uses decyl glucoside, which is very mild and often found in products intended for sensitive and baby skin. However, I must point out that the formula does include phenoxyethanol and tetrasodium EDTA, both preservatives with possible irritating effects.

Now, when it comes to the intensive moisturizing cream the primary ingredient is petroleum. As Marta wrote about in her post Aquaphor and petroleum safety,

"Certain impurities may be in the petrolatum and
they can cause allergies and even be a carcinogen. Cosmetics should use
highly refined petroleum that has been cleaned of these impurities. The
EU requires product makers to provide a certificate saying the
petroleum used is carcinogen-free...This should mean that a petrolatum-based product bought in Europe is
safe. In the US, where there isn't such a restriction, we frankly don't
know. So, it is probably best to avoid it if possible. But if you find
something that works and that you don't get a reaction to, then there
is probably no need panic and go petroleum-free."

According to the Exederm literature, their formulas use a highly purified, pharmaceutical grade of white petroleum jelly, so I believe that any concerns can be put to rest.

On a similar note, this cream also includes palmitic acid, which has been linked to cancer. As expounded on a skin cancer prevention and treatment website,

"Palmitic acid, a saturated fat found in high concentration in cocoa butter, is very toxic to damaged tissues and promotes their natural self destruction apoptosis mechanism. Cancer cells usually have a defective apoptosis mechanism and try to live indefinitely. Palmitic acid is the direct precursor of ceramide, a signaling molecule for regulating the differentiation (changeover from a cancer cell to a more normal cell), proliferation, and apoptosis of cells. Ceramides are found in high concentrations within the cell membrane of cells. They are released from the cell membrane by enzymes and then act as a signaling molecule. Topical application of palmitic acid on skin cancer could enhance the natural ceramide signaling function substantially."

I must say, however, that beside this, I haven't found much else out there making that direct of a link. It also sets my mind at ease this this formula does have the Seal of Acceptance from National Eczema Association.

Like the other two products, the flare up control cream has listed in its ingredients petrolatum, phenoxyethanol, and palmitic acid, which have been discussed at some length above. The primary active ingredient in this cream is the ubiquitous and commonly used ingredient Hydrocortisone acetate USP 1%. Working in combination as a topical corticosteroid and local anesthetic, hydrocortisone works to reduce skin inflammation (redness, swelling, itching, and irritation) and decrease pain in the affected area. When applied to the skin it works by acting inside the skin cells to decrease the release of these inflammatory substances.

As with all hydrocortisone creams, Exederm does not recommend using the product every day. Instead it should be used only to control eczema flare-ups.

In sum, I do recommend the Exederm line. It is highly moisturizing, effective and has been nothing but gentle on my most sensitive skin.

Ingredients in Cleansing wash:

Purified water, glycerin, disodium cocoamphodiacete, decyl glucoside, disodium cocoglucoside sulfosuccinate, xanthan gum, phenoxyethanol,caprylyl glycol, tetrasodium EDTA, sodium chloride, citric acid

Intensive moisturizing cream:

Water, petroleum, capric triglyceride, glyceryl stearate, stearic acid, palmitic acid, glycerin, ceteareth-20,sodium benzoate, phenoxyethanol, citric acid

Flare control cream:

Active Ingredient: Hydrocortisone acetate USP 1%

Inactive ingredients: (base) caprylic/capric triglyceride, caprylyl glycol, ceteareth-20, anthemis nobilis, citric acid, glycerin, glyceryl stearate, palmitic acid, petrolatum, phenoxyethanol, stearic acid, purified water