What you need to know about makeup allergies
You may have wondered whether you had an allergic reaction after applying new makeup, such as foundation, mascara, or blush. How can you tell if you have a makeup reaction? And what should you do next time it happens? We’ll answer all your questions about makeup allergies with the help of LovelySkin CEO and board-certified dermatologist Dr. Joel Schlessinger.
What are common cosmetic allergies?
What are the symptoms of an allergy to makeup?
How should you react if you experience an allergic reaction when using makeup?
Which makeup should I choose if I am allergic to makeup?
Common Makeup Allergies and Their Causes
What makeup ingredients can cause an allergic reaction? Any ingredient, in theory, could cause an allergic reaction, but some are more likely to do so than others. Dr. Schlessinger explains that an allergic reaction is caused by your immune system overreacting and going into overdrive to a specific ingredient.
The FDA has identified five common cosmetic allergens: fragrances, preservatives and dyes, rubber, and metal. Dr. Schlessinger explains that makeup manufacturers aren’t required to disclose the ingredients used to create fragrances, so it is impossible to tell what they might contain. Dr. Schlessinger says that some “natural” fragrances are not required to be disclosed. So, even though the product may state it is “fragrance-free,” it could have some natural fragrances added.
Preservatives like parabens and dyes that give cosmetics their color can cause allergic reactions. Metals like nickel and rubber can cause allergic reactions in some people. They’re often used in makeup products such as eyelash curlers and tweezers. Some plant botanicals, essential oils, and animal-derived ingredients like Lanolin can cause allergies.
Allergic Reactions to Makeup and their Symptoms
Contact Dermatitis is a mild allergic reaction that appears as a rash. It may begin with itching and then progress to redness or a skin rash. A contact dermatitis rash can be uncomfortable, but it is not contagious. When you are able to remove the allergen responsible for the rash, it will clear up in a matter of weeks. “No matter what the cause, allergies will never go away,” says Dr. Schlessinger. Untreated, the condition will only worsen.
It is rare, but a severe allergic reaction to makeup is possible. You should seek immediate medical attention if you notice symptoms like difficulty swallowing, wheezing, or shortness of breath. This is an allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis.
What To Do If You Think You May Have A Makeup Allergy
A dermatologist is the best person to consult if you think you may be experiencing a mild reaction to makeup. The dermatologist can recommend a topical treatment such as an over-the-counter or prescription ointment and tell you how long to take off makeup and skin care products. Your doctor will also be able to determine if the rash is due to an underlying condition.
A dermatologist will also be able to help you pinpoint the exact cause of the reaction so that you can avoid it again in the future. Dermatologists can also do patches to test for ingredients that may be causing issues. They should, therefore, be the first place you go to if there is a reaction. In an office patch test, small amounts of common allergens will be applied to the skin, and you’ll be closely monitored for any allergic reactions. They may recommend that you visit an allergist to be evaluated by blood tests and prick tests.
Hypoallergenic Makeup – Fragrance-Free Makeup and More
Hypoallergenic is a term used by cosmetics manufacturers to describe a product that is free from ingredients known to cause allergies. However, since there are no federal standards that define what hypoallergenic means, it is not a guarantee,” Dr. Schlessinger explains. If you’re unsure, consult your dermatologist to determine whether the ingredients in your product are likely to be hypoallergenic. Bring your products to your appointment and, if you can, bring a list with the ingredients. It can mean the difference between success and failure when it comes to determining the cause of the allergy.
You may want to choose makeup that has a fragrance-free label if your skin is sensitive. The government has not defined this term, but it is generally accepted that using fragrance-free makeup can reduce the amount of unidentified ingredients that may cause an allergic reaction or irritate the skin.
Mineral makeup may be the better option if you have an allergic reaction to makeup containing synthetic dyes or pigments. Mineral makeup uses natural minerals as opposed to synthetic dyes.