lipstickIt is estimated that nearly 25% of individuals experience an allergic reaction or skin reaction each year due to a beauty product.  It is important that when you first notice a sensitivity or an allergic reaction, that you discontinue the use of the product immediately.  Reactions run the spectrum from mild to severe.  Symptoms can include a burning of the skin or eyes, contact dermatitis, itching, redness and blisters.

Why Do Allergic Reactions Come On Suddenly?

If you have been using a makeup, cleanser or hair product for some time, and suddenly develop an allergy to it, it is typically due to a change in the formula.  Do some research into the formula and ingredients and check with the company to see if there has been a recent change in their formula.  It is imperative that you report allergic reactions due to cosmetics or other beauty products to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration by calling 800-332-1088.  However, a sudden onset allergy may also be the sign of a new medical condition.  Consult with your doctor if you cannot pinpoint the cause of the allergic reaction.

What Are The Common Culprits That Cause Allergic Reactions?

Fragrances, colors, and chemical preservatives are the three most common ingredients in beauty products and makeup that cause adverse reactions and skin irritation.  When using perfumes, spray on clothing, not directly on skin to avoid a allergic reaction.  In addition, there are reports of allergic reactions caused by bath soaps, antiperspirants, detergents, shampoos, long-wearing lip stick and stains, nail polish, and eye makeup including mascara.  Some of the most common allergens and irritants include:

  • Parabens
  • Imidazolidinyl Urea
  • Quaternium-15
  • DMDM Hydantoin
  • Phenoxyethanol
  • Methlchloroisothiazolinone
  • Formaldehyde (commonly used in beauty products including nail polish)
  • Methcrylate (commonly used in fingernail and eyelash adhesives)

How Do I Treat Allergic Reactions To Makeup?

Immediately stop using the product, and cleanse the area thoroughly.  If you have a moderate reaction, you can apply hydrocortisone cream, however, be mindful that it can cause pigment changes on the face.  Some natural ingredients can help soothe skin after allergic reactions.  These include coconut oil, honey, yogurt and apple cider vinegar.  If you experience a severe allergic reaction, consult with your physician or dermatologist as soon as possible.  Any allergic reaction that affects your breathing or heart rate needs to be taken seriously; consult with emergency personnel immediately.

How Do I Find Alternative Products After I’ve Developed An Allergy?

allergic-reactionMake a list of all of the ingredients in the product that caused the allergy and then check all new products you are considering for that ingredient.  Be sure to do a patch test on your wrist prior to using the product.  Apply the product and allow 48 hours; if you experience any redness, itching or swelling, do not apply the product any further. It is important to understand that cosmetics companies are not required to list every ingredient in the product; however, most companies will give you information over the phone if you call with a concern of an allergic reaction.  It is important to keep a personal list of ingredients that you have sensitivity or allergic reactions to.  If you are allergic to bee stings, then avoid beauty products with any bee substances including honey, beeswax, propolis, and others.

When searching for any beauty or makeup products, choose products with as many natural ingredients as possible.  Products with an ingredient list that is impossible to pronounce or filled with ingredients that you do not recognize, should be avoided.  Many products today are marketed as “hypoallergenic”, “non-irritating”, or “dermatologist tested” however, there is no benchmark for these claims, and they can still cause moderate to severe allergies in some individuals.  Remember, everyone’s skin and immune system is different; it may take some time to find the best products for your particular skin sensitivities.

Sources & Further Reading


Jenn is a certified nail polish addict, vinyl record lover, health & beauty industry analyst and writer. Trend spotter. You can reach Jenn here.

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