Dove soap allergic reaction

Contact dermatitis

Almost everyone gets this type of eczema at least once. We get contact dermatitis when something that our skin touches causes a rash. Some rashes happen immediately. Most take time to appear.

Latex allergies

Contact dermatitis: Many health care workers develop an allergy to latex, as did this nurse. Her rash is due to touching her face while wearing latex gloves.

Allergic contact dermatitis

Some people have an allergic skin reaction. You have had this type of contact dermatitis if you had a rash caused by:

  • Poison ivy

  • Nickel

  • Makeup you applied once or few times

  • Jewelry you wore for a long time without a reaction, such as a wedding ring

  • Jewelry you wore for only a few hours or days

  • Latex gloves

Irritant contact dermatitis

This type is more common. It develops when something irritates the skin. With enough contact, most things will irritate our skin. A person diagnosed with any of the following has irritant contact dermatitis:

  • Diaper rash

  • Acid burn

  • Dry, cracked hands due to lots of contact with water

  • Irritated skin around the mouth due to lip licking

When a toxic substance touches our skin, the skin is quickly irritated. You’ve had irritant contact dermatitis if your skin reacted to a toxic substance like:

  • Battery acid

  • Bleach

  • Pepper spray

You can also develop irritant contact dermatitis when you have lots of contact with less irritating substances like:

  • Water

  • Foods

  • Soap

People often develop irritant contact dermatitis at work. Beauticians, nurses, bartenders, and others who spend lots of time with wet hands get this. It often starts with dry, cracked hands. In time, the skin on their hands may begin to sting and burn. The skin becomes very tender. Sometimes, the skin itches and bleeds.

When a rash does not clear within a few weeks, you should see a dermatologist.When contact dermatitis develops, treatment is important. It can prevent the contact dermatitis from worsening and help your skin heal.

Image used with permission of Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology: 2002; 47:755-76.

American Academy of Dermatology. “Contact dermatitis.” Medical Student Core Curriculum. Last update July 2011.

The Lewin Group (prepared for the Society for Investigative Dermatology and the American Academy of Dermatology Association). “The Burden of Skin Diseases.” 2005. p. 37-40.

Is your body wash — or soap — causing your rash? | Miami Herald

Hemera Technologies Getty Images

The American Contact Dermatitis Society has named an ingredient commonly found in eco-friendly body washes, shampoos, liquid soaps and other personal care items “allergen of the year.”

This, of course, raises questions as to whether products labeled as “eco-friendly” or “all-natural” are necessarily better for your skin. Dove Body Wash, a popular product for those with sensitive skin, is an example of a product that contains this ingredient. Here’s what you need to know.

Alkyl glucosides — the allergen of 2017— are a type of mild surface-active agent that can be derived from eco-friendly, natural sources like coconut oil, palm oil, grapeseed oil, corn and wheat starch. Because of their widespread use in personal care, skincare and household products, it is very likely that you use one or more products that contain alkyl glucosides. Not only can they be found in your body washes, shampoos and soaps, but you’ll also find alkyl glucosides in deodorants, sunscreens, paper products and some foods.

Although these ingredients were not expected to cause skin irritation or other side effects, a paper published in Contact Dermatitis found that alkyl glucosides likely trigger more instances of allergic contact dermatitis than originally believed. The paper outlined a 19-year study that followed just under 12,000 participants with contact dermatitis and found that 30 of them had an allergic reaction to alkyl glucosides, and another 16 reacted negatively to a mixture of compounds, including glucosides and other non-related chemicals.

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Should I Ditch My Eco-Friendly Products?

While most people won’t experience an adverse skin reaction, the number of people who have an outbreak has been increasing over the past decade, according to a 2017 study in Dermatitis.

This may indicate that as alkyl glucosides are being used in more and more products, an increasing number of people are beginning to see signs of skin redness, itching or flaking caused by these ingredients.

Alkyl glucosides, however, aren’t necessarily “bad,” and they can be a more eco-friendly choice than some synthetic compounds. For some people, using products that contain glucosides won’t present any skin issues and they don’t have to dump their products.

On the other hand, some skin types may do best to avoid alkyl glucosides and other common skin irritants that could worsen dryness, redness or flaking. As a general rule of thumb, dry skin types should steer clear of cleansers and other products that foam, which is exactly what products containing alkyl glucosides do. Sensitive skin types or anyone who is already struggling to manage eczema, rosacea, psoriasis or other common inflammatory skin conditions should also avoid potentially irritating ingredients.

As with many other topical ingredients, if your skin can tolerate alkyl glucosides well, there’s no reason to stop using products that contain them. If you can’t seem to clear up redness and itching, you might want to talk a closer look at the ingredients that are in your skin-care products to try to find the culprit.

If you’re still not sure if alkyl glucosides could be to blame for your skin allergy or rash, make an appointment to see your dermatologist.

Dr. Leslie Baumann is a board-certified dermatologist and CEO of Baumann Cosmetic & Research Institute in Miami.

Bar soaps may be better than body washes for contact dermatitis patients

SAN FRANCISCO – Chronic contact dermatitis often is tied to hidden allergens found in shampoos, soaps, and body washes, according to Cory Dunnick, MD.“A lot of patients who get referred to my patch test clinic will have chronic dermatitis that isn’t responding to treatment or is worsening despite treatment, or they present with a pattern that is suggestive of contact dermatitis,” she said in an interview.

There is also a common perception that liquid body washes are better than bar soaps because they may be more moisturizing, but the results of a recently published study suggest otherwise, Dr. Dunnick of the department of dermatology at the University of Colorado at Denver, Aurora, said at the annual meeting of the Pacific Dermatologic Association.

ValuaVitaly/Thinkstock In a discussion of hidden allergens in shampoos and soaps Dr. Dunnick observed that shampoos are a common source of contact dermatitis and that alkyl glucosides and mild surfactants, which generally have low irritancy, are frequent culprits as well. In 2013, 19 of these compounds were declared safe by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review Expert Panel (Int J Toxicol. 2013 Sep-Oct;32:22S-48S).

Dr. Dunnick was one of the investigators in a study that compared ingredients in the top-selling 50 bar soaps and 50 body washes on to determine if there was a difference with respect to allergen content. They obtained the ingredients list for all the products and compared them with the American Contact Dermatitis Society Core Allergen Series. Counter to the common belief, results of the study indicated that liquid soaps were likely the worse choice for sensitive patients: They contained far more preservative and surfactant allergens than bar soaps, and there was no difference in fragrance content between the two classes (Dermatitis. 2017 May 23. doi: 10.1097/DER.0000000000000289).

Of the 50 liquid soaps, 44 had one or more preservative allergens, compared with none of the bar soaps (P less than .001), and 34 had at least one surfactant allergen, compared with seven of the bar soaps (P less than .001). Forty-eight body washes had fragrance, as did 47 of the bar soaps.

The most common allergens in body washes were methylisothiazolinone (19 of 50), quaternium-15 (16), sodium benzoate (15), methylchloroisothiazolinone/methylisothiazolinone (12), DMDM hydantoin (10), and phenoxyethanol (9). None of these allergens appeared in any of the bar soaps.

“If you have a patient who you suspect has a contact allergy to a preservative or surfactant ingredient, then you can recommend perhaps switching to a bar soap, maybe one that is fragrance free,” advised Dr. Dunnick.

The most common allergen they found in body washes, methylisothiazolinone (MI), is becoming an increasing concern, she said. It has been around for many years but became more prevalent when the Food and Drug Administration decided in 2005 to allow higher concentrations of MI to be used in skin care products. “It’s a pretty strong sensitizer. As a result, we’re seeing a lot more allergy,” she noted.

Dr. Dunnick

And MI dermatitis can be challenging to diagnose. The dual methylchloroisothiazolinone/MI test, which most dermatology offices have on hand, is not sufficiently sensitive and can miss almost 40% of MI allergies, according to Dr. Dunnick. Instead, she recommended a test specific to MI, which usually has to be special ordered.

This soap/body-wash allergen study sends a clear message to dermatologists to individualize recommendations, she said. “A lot of dermatologists recommend what they think are mild soaps, but they don’t necessarily think about what contact allergens might be in those soaps, so maybe they need to make more specific recommendations. They might recommend Dove soap,” but there are different Dove soaps, she pointed out.

A bigger challenge is finding a shampoo for sensitive patients. Almost all contain fragrances, and MI is an ingredient in many shampoos as well. Dr. Dunnick has found the DHS brand, which is fragrance free, to be helpful in some cases, and the Nonscents brand, also fragrance free, is sometimes recommended as safe.

But, in the end, recommendations must be individualized for the patient’s specific allergies, and that requires a thorough work-up. “You don’t know what they are unless you do the patch test,” she said.

Dr. Dunnick reported having no relevant financial disclosures.

What Does a Rash From Laundry Detergent Look Like?

No escape route is designed as of now. If you are using ordinary laundry detergents, you are bound to get rashes from clothing on your young, smooth and glowing skin which you blow a lot of trumpet about! The aftereffects make you feel whether it was the laundry or you who went through the detergent!

No, just wait for the final verdict. It looks like you haven’t used our Cleancult effective and non-toxic laundry pods yet. Cleancult is a class apart. It provides powerful 3-in-1 laundry pods that contain green and skin friendly ingredients and at the same time don’t compromise with the cleanliness. The laundry pods are 100% non-toxic cleaners and thus, no more rashes from fabric!

We, at Cleancult, are highly obsessed with the environment and totally concerned about your skin. Because we just cannot harm you or the ecology. Our products use the most skin friendly and green ingredients and are mildest for the dermatological structure.

Some people even doubt whether laundry detergents or laundry supplies can really cause anyone allergy, can soap cause itching or for that matter, can anyone has detergent sensitive skin! Well, the answer is yes! The not so pretty truth behind these allergic reactions is the presence of toxic ingredients in your soap and detergent. Some of the symptoms of an allergy from soap include a rash such as breaking out into hives; sneezing or itchy water eyes, especially when you are allergic to the scent of the product and symptoms like tightness in your skin, other rash and itching, even after showering and applying moisturizer.

At some time or the other, you must have experienced rashes, allergy and irritation on your skin after using traditional detergents. This is because, most of these detergents are unfortunately laden with chemicals and bleaching agents. Of course, the bleaching agents would produce dirt free clothes but at what cost? Have you ever wondered? Would you like postponing a hot date planned with your boyfriend due to skin allergy issues? Of course you don’t want him to find you scratching yourself every now or then!

Usual detergents contain harmful chemical irritants like Potassium hydroxide and make Potassium soap. These alkaline are pretty active and penetrate into the soft tissues and skin. That is bound to produce skin rashes. The toxic chemicals in the laundry detergents can even cause eye irritation besides skin problems which can magnify if you have a laundry sensitive skin. And skin, mind you is porous; the chances of toxic chemicals percolate deep inside cannot be ruled out.

On the other hand, we use Sodium hydroxide which is very mild. Or shall we call it skin-friendly? We are proud of the ingredients which we use. Some of them are Sodium Carbon Peroxide, Sodium Carbonate, Sodium Chloride, Sodium Bi Carbonate, Sodium Citrate, Sodium Metasilicate, Sodium Sulphate and many more. In fact, we do put in a lot of efforts in making the laundry detergent as mild as possible.

Our business model is well thought. In fact, we were searching for the green ingredients for our products. We found Citric acid, what you find in Lemon and Oranges (Citrus fruits), has an incredible quality of penetrating deep inside the dirt. The emulsion that can form is faster. We also found that Subtilisin and Lipase Enzyme blend are quite capable of fighting against dirt and at the same save your skin.

We use them meticulously. Even though the cost of the ingredients is a bit prohibitive, we would not compromise in giving the mildest product that works. Strangely we offer them to you at a cost much below that of our competitors for a welcome change. We do innovation in improving the products quality. Can we afford not to?

In fact, we have developed the business model in such a way that the number of tiers mercilessly cut short. That means, you can get Cleancult directly from us by the unique subscription model. In other words, you need not grease too many palms to get Cleancult to your hand. Get it right at your doorstep without paying a penny more.

We keep your skin breathe at last with our detergent Cleancult. That cult is our motto. Our mission and vision is none other than that. We mean it; we are transparent in disclosing the ingredients truthfully. (FYI, earthworms and few snakes breathe through their skins).

We are with you always because we know cleaning is an ‘unending process’ and like you, millions around would have vouched. Welcome to the new cult called Cleancult and you will pat yourself you did. Once you join in our subscription scheme, you can save 50% on your first box and can get a couple of pods free as well. After all, green is not that far for you and me.

Your linen and sheet need a milder treatment, and you will start loving them ‘next to your skin’! Free your clothes from Harmful Chemicals. Start Feeling Clean with Cleancult.



The most prevalent allergen identified in our analysis of moisturizers in the Walgreens database was fragrance, identified in 67.7 percent of moisturizers. When fragrance-related allergens are also considered, the proportion of moisturizers containing either fragrance or a fragrance-related allergen increases to 83 percent. Fragrances are ingredients added to a product to add a pleasurable odor. More than 100 fragrance ingredients have been identified as allergens.9 The prevalence of contact allergy to fragrances has been reported to be between 5 percent and 12.8 percent.10 Fragrance has been identified as a major sensitizer in topically applied products and the most common cause of ACD from personal care products.11 ACD of the face and body due to the fragrance contained in moisturizers has been previously reported.12,13

Patch testing for fragrance allergy uses fragrance mix and balsam of Peru. Although these were previously reported to identify 80 percent of those allergic to fragrance, they may only identify 60 to 70 percent of patients with fragrance allergy due to the evolving nature of fragrance use in the cosmetic industry. Therefore, it may be beneficial to use additional allergens or the patient’s own product when patch testing.8 For example, fragrance mix II, containing six additional fragrance allergens, was found to identify 30 percent additional fragrance-sensitive patients missed using only the traditional fragrance mix.14 After having a positive patch test reaction to fragrance, it may be difficult to elicit which moisturizers do not contain the particular allergen since manufacturers are not mandated to list their fragrance formulas.8 Because fragrance allergy is an increasing problem, the European Cosmetics Directive recently introduced the mandatory labeling of 26 fragrance ingredients if the concentration in the product surpasses either 0.001% in leave-on products or 0.01% in rinse-off products.15

Parabens, such as butyl paraben, methy paraben, propyl paraben, and ethyl paraben, were the second most common allergen, found in 61.6 percent of the moisturizers analyzed. They are commonly used in foods and personal care products as chemical preservatives given their bacteriocidal and fungicidal properties. Parabens are capable of permeating through and accumulating in the skin. An in-vitro study found that 60 percent of methyl paraben can be found on the skin after eight hours of contact.16 This increased paraben contact may potentially lead to an increased risk for paraben sensitization. Another study found that parabens are found in 99 percent of leave-on products and 77 percent of rinse-off cosmetics.17 Despite expansive use of parabens, the incidence of allergy to them is lower than many other preservatives. However, paraben allergy may be becoming more common, as it was reported in the 2003–2004 NACDG data to be at least 1.12 times more common than in previous years.18 It is important to note that using paraben-containing topical medicaments on damaged skin can be a cause of sensitization and elicit paraben allergy.19 The “Paraben Paradox” refers to this reaction occurring only on inflamed skin in paraben-sensitive individuals, while these patients are able to tolerate paraben on noninflamed skin.20,21

Vitamin E, also known as tocopherol, was found in 51.7 percent of moisturizers analyzed. It is commonly added to moisturizers to inhibit oxidation by reacting with free radicals, thereby stopping a chain reaction. It potentially also acts as a moisturizer itself through its skin-hydrating effects.3 While ACD due to vitamin E is relatively rare, possibly due to its low concentration in cosmetic products, case reports and case series of contact allergy to vitamin E in personal care products have been reported.22,23 Among these cases, several individuals developed widespread dermatitis despite local application.24 An outbreak of approximately 1,000 cases of allergic papular and follicular contact dermatitis occurred in 1992 due to alpha-tocopherol linoleate in a cosmetic line, although the reaction was believed to be caused by oxidation products of the allergen rather than the allergen itself.25 Therefore, it may be of value to patch test patients with suspected vitamin-E allergy to the derivatives of the vitamin rather than the compound itself. Additionally, repeated open application testing and patch testing with individual components of cosmetic creams and the actual products has been useful in establishing a diagnosis of ACD.26

Essential oils and biologic additives were the fourth most common allergens in the moisturizers and were found in 44.6 percent of products. They are the highly concentrated, volatile, aromatic substances extracted from various trees and plants that are used for their fragrant and antimicrobial properties.27 Multiple cases of hand and body ACD have been reported due to lotions and creams containing essential oils. For example, a study of more than 2,000 patch-tested individuals found that tea tree oil, the most common essential oil allergen, elicited a positive reaction in 1.8 percent of these patients.28 There are many components to essential oils, and the ingredients may vary by batch, heat, season, moisture, and light, which is why it is difficult to standardize these allergens.29 Although there are many essential oils, only the most prevalent ones known to cause contact dermatitis, such as ylang ylang, tea tree oil, compositae mix, propolis, and colophony, are included in most patch-testing trays.8 While this may represent a good screening tool, extended patch testing is necessary in patients suspected for sensitization since not all affected patients are positive to fragrance mix I, and most individuals react positively only to some of the essential oils they use.30 Since multiple sensitizations have been reported in essential-oil-sensitive patients, avoiding a single oil may not prevent further ACD episodes. Additionally, benzyl alcohol is a component of certain essential oils. Therefore, patients with known reactions to benzyl alcohol may potentially react to essential oils.

Benzyl alcohol was the fifth most common allergen, identified in 23.6 percent of moisturizers. It is frequently used for its fragrance, preservative qualities, antibacterial and antifungal nature, and its antipruritic capabilities.26 Benzyl alcohol is considered a relatively rare contact allergen, although it may induce urticarial, immediate, and systemic reactions. The majority of reported reactions have been a consequence of repetitive topical medication and moisturizer use.8 Contact allergy due to benzyl alcohol has also been reported from hair dye, occupational exposure, injectable medication, and anesthetic spray. Because benzyl alcohol is a component of balsam of Peru, it is important to avoid fragrance when sensitive to benzyl alcohol. Additionally, a case of eyelid dermatitis has been reported due to the benzyl alcohol component of pimecrolimus cream in a patient sensitive to balsam of Peru and benzoic acid.31

Propylene glycol was the sixth most common allergen and found in 20.3 percent of moisturizers. It is added to moisturizers as a humectant to prevent the escape of water or moisture from the skin. It also works as a solvent to mix relatively insoluble ingredients and acts as a preservative.8 Of 1,494 patch-tested individuals who had a scattered generalized distribution of dermatitis, six percent were found to be sensitized to propylene glycol.32 This allergen may cause adverse skin reactions at concentrations as low as 10 percent under occlusive conditions in normal individuals, and at concentrations as low as two percent in individuals with dermatitis.3 Additionally, repeated applications of high-concentration propylene glycol (greater than 20%), may not be recommended on large body areas in children with skin barrier function due to reports of poisoning after high-concentration topical treatments.3 Furthermore, propylene glycol contained in moisturizers is known to increase the cutaneous penetration of applied medicaments. In severe and widespread dermatitis, this has been reported to lead to high levels of hydrocortisone absorption, causing an increase in systemic cortisol levels.33

Because propylene glycol is a strong irritant, false positives with patch testing can occur, and true allergic prevalence to the allergen is unknown. Positive reactions to propylene glycol have been reported to range from 0.1 to 3.8 percent.33 One study determined that propylene glycol exhibits very low sensitization potential, concluding that the risk for sensitization on uncompromised skin seems to be very low.34 Although many cosmetic ingredients are related to propylene glycol, little is known about their cross-reactions with propylene glycol.

Formaldehyde-releasing preservatives include quaternium-15, diazolidinyl urea, DMDM hydantoin, imidazolidinyl urea, bronopol, and tris nitro. Grouped together, they were found to be the seventh most common allergens, discovered in 19.9 percent of products. They are frequently used as preservatives, disinfectants, and for production of commercial construction material such as plywood. Formaldehyde, an irritant, allergen, and potential carcinogen, has been reported to be the second most common cause of cosmetic-associated contact dermatitis and many people are sensitized to the allergen.35 Therefore, formaldehyde-releasing preservatives have replaced formaldehyde in order to decrease sensitization and to lower the concentration of formaldehyde used.8 In a chart review of 210 patch-tested patients, 9.5 percent were allergic to formaldehyde-releasing preservatives.36 In addition, between 1998 and 2000, the NACDG found that reactions to individual formaldehyde releasers in skin care products ranged between 1.9 percent and nine percent.13 It is unclear whether a person who reacts to patch testing to one formaldehyde-releasing preservative should avoid the others in the group that were negative on patch testing, although if a patient is also allergic to formaldehyde, it is likely to be of benefit to avoid the entire group.8 Also of note, ingestion of foods containing aspartame may elicit a reaction in highly sensitized individuals due to aspartame breakdown into formaldehyde.

Iodopropynyl butylcarbamate (IPBC) was the eighth most common allergen found in 16.3 percent of moisturizers. It is often used as a preservative in lotions and personal care products due to its effectiveness at preventing fungal growth in topical products.8 It is also a biocide, a biologically reactive chemical with expected allergenic and irritant potential, which was first used for wood preservation.37 From the years 1996 to 2001, the Food and Drug Administration reported IPBC to be the preservative with the fastest growth in use in cosmetics.38 The maximum level for safe use in leave-on and rinse-off products has been set at 0.1 percent by international authorities.39 Furthermore, an irritant label must be placed on all products containing concentrations greater than 0.01%, although cosmetic products are allowed to have 10 times this concentration without labeling. Observing for IPBC allergy is important since the frequency of contact allergy may rise with the increasing availability of IPBC-containing cosmetic products. IPBC can lead to sensitization after extensive and prolonged exposure, but only a few cases of ACD have been reported from its use in cosmetics even with its extensive use.40

Lanolin was the ninth most common allergen and was identified in 9.8 percent of moisturizers. It is commonly added to moisturize and soothe the skin. Lanolin easily absorbs through the skin and facilitates the absorption of medicinal chemicals when used as an ointment. In addition, lanolin may be used in lubricants, rust-preventative coatings, shoe polish, and other commercial products. Between 1998 and 2000, the NACDG discovered that 2.4 percent of their patients were allergic to lanolin alcohol.13 Although lanolin alcohol is believed to be the main sensitizer, lanolin is derived from the fleece of sheep and comprises hundreds of different chemicals, making it difficult to isolate the contact allergens. Additionally, lanolin-sensitive patients may tolerate one product containing lanolin but not another.13 Furthermore, the true prevalence of positive reactions is unknown since reactions are often not reproducible and false positives and negatives commonly occur.41 Therefore, patch testing with the patient’s own product may be of value. Patch testing for lanolin allergy is done with either wool alcohol or a mixture of lanolin alcohol and mineral alcohol (containing wool alcohol from the hydrolysis of wool fat). Of note, occasional cross reactants to lanolin include fatty alcohols such as stearyl and cetyl alcohol.8

Similar to paraben sensitivity, reactions to lanolin more frequently occur on compromised skin, yet lanolin is generally safe when added to cosmetics extensively used in the population on noncompromised skin. Furthermore, patients sensitized to lanolin as a result of topical therapeutic agents may tolerate lanolin-containing cosmetics.41 Case studies have been published demonstrating that some patients who patch test positive to lanolin are able to tolerate lanolin-containing cosmetics when used on normal skin.40

Methylisothiazolinone/ methylchloroisothiazolinone (MCI/MI) is the tenth most common allergen in moisturizers, found in 6.2 percent of available products. It is frequently used as a preservative in cosmetic applications, body care products, and industrial products such as paint, and is highly efficacious at low concentrations. It is documented to be a more common allergen in Europe than in the United States, although the reason for this difference is unclear.8 A theory for this discrepancy is that MCI/MI in the United States is used more frequently in wash-off products, which may be tolerated by sensitized individuals.8 Contact allergy to MCI/MI affects 1 to 3 percent of patch-tested individuals in European centers.41 Sensitization appears to be most common in those with facial and hand dermatitis and in women, although frequency among men is increasing.42 In a study of 119 patients suffering from cosmetic-related contact dermatitis, MCI/MI was determined to be the most important cosmetic allergen reacting in 27.7 percent of these patients.43 Additionally, studies of lymph-node assays used to determine the likelihood of potential contact allergens have confirmed MCI/MI as a potent contact allergen.41

Contact reactions to cosmetics

What is cosmetic?

A cosmetic is defined as a topically applied product that is used to beautify, cleanse or protect the hair, skin, teeth or complexion.

In essence, a cosmetic should not contain any active drug ingredient that may affect the structure or function of the skin. The division of cosmetics and drugs is not always clear as there are many products available that have two intended uses, for example, an antidandruff shampoo is a cosmetic because it is intended to cleanse the hair, but it also contains a drug to treat the scalp and dandruff. Such products must comply with the requirements for both cosmetics and drugs.

Cosmetics can be broadly divided into the following groups.

  • Facial make-up: eye make-up, lipstick, blushes, foundation
  • Nail care: varnish, remover, artificial nails
  • Skincare: cleanser, moisturiser, toner
  • Haircare: shampoos, hair colour, dye, regrowth treatment
  • Oral care: toothpaste, mouthwash
  • Body cleansers: soap, bath additives, shower gel
  • Shaving: shaving foam/cream, aftershave
  • Fragrances and perfumes
  • Deodorant: deodorant, antiperspirant
  • Sun protection: sunscreen

Cosmetics standard authorities

Countries around the world have in place regulatory standards that ensure these products are safe for the workers handling them, the environment, and for use by consumers.

  • New Zealand: Cosmetic Products Group Standard. Environmental Protection Authority (EPA)
  • Australia: NICNAS Cosmetics Guidelines. National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme (NICNAS)
  • United States: Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. FDA U.S. Food and Drug Administration
  • Europe: Cosmetics Directive. European Commission Consumer Affairs

Who gets contact reactions to cosmetics?

It is estimated that on average women are using at least seven types of cosmetic each day and reactions to these products are quite common. Although the prevalence of cosmetic allergy in the general population is unknown, several studies suggest that up to 10% of the population will have some type of reaction to a cosmetic throughout a lifetime. This figure may be much higher as many mild reactions occurring at home are self-diagnosed and often self-treated.

What kind of reactions can occur?

Cosmetics can produce a range of adverse reactions.

Contact urticaria

  • A local burning sensation, tingling, itching may occur within minutes to about 1 hour after contact with the skin.
  • Swelling and redness (wheal and flare) may be seen.
  • The rash usually resolves by itself within 24 hours of onset.


  • Anaphylaxis causes difficulty in breathing, nausea and vomiting, and acute urticaria and angioedema.
  • It is rare but can be fatal.
  • There are reports of death from the allergen in permanent hair dye

Irritant contact dermatitis

  • Irritant contact dermatitis accounts for 80% of all cases of contact dermatitis.
  • This can occur in anyone, but people with atopy are more prone to irritant dermatitis than non-atopics.
  • Dermatitis usually begins as patches of itchy, scaly skin or red rash, and can also present as blisters that ooze.
  • For strong irritants, a reaction may occur within minutes or hours of exposure.
  • For weaker irritants, it may take days or weeks of continued exposure before symptoms appear.

Allergic contact dermatitis

  • Allergic contact dermatitis occurs when a person’s immune system is sensitised to an allergen (the person is allergic to a specific ingredient).
  • A rash usually develops more than 12 hours after contact with the allergen and peaks about 48 hours after exposure.
  • Symptoms of allergic contact dermatitis include redness, swelling, intense itching and urticated erythema.
  • The face, lips, eyes, ears and neck are the most common sites for cosmetic allergy.

Photocontact dermatitis

  • Photocontact dermatitis is caused by the interaction of sunlight with an ingredient in the cosmetic.

Some people may develop more than one type of reaction. For example, an atopic individual may be prone to irritant contact dermatitis, which in turn increases their likelihood of allergic contact dermatitis, as their skin barrier function is weakened and sensitised to the allergen.

It is possible for a cosmetic allergy to develop even after years of using a cosmetic without previous problems.

Contact allergic dermatitis to cosmetics

What are the allergens in cosmetics?

The range of cosmetics is vast, so the pool of allergens is infinitely huge. The groups of allergens that appear to most frequently cause cosmetic allergy are fragrances, preservatives, and paraphenylenediamine (PPD) found in hair dyes.


  • There are more than 5000 different fragrances used in cosmetics and skincare products.
  • They are present in most types of cosmetics including perfumes, shampoos, conditioners, moisturisers, facial cosmetics, and deodorants.
  • Fragrances are the most common reason for contact dermatitis from cosmetics.
  • 70–80% of fragrance allergy can be picked up by patch testing with Fragrance Mix and Balsam of Peru
  • Cosmetic labelled “unscented” does not mean fragrance-free; some unscented products may contain a fragrance to mask another chemical odour. Products should be labelled ‘fragrance-free’ or ‘without perfume’ to indicate no fragrances have been used.


  • Preservatives are the second most common cause of contact allergic dermatitis to cosmetics.
  • Cosmetics that contain water have a preservative in them to prevent bacterial or fungal growth.
  • Some of the preservatives most commonly found in cosmetics include:
    • Parabens – used in many facial cosmetics and skincare products
    • Formaldehyde – mainly found in shampoos
    • Imidazolidinyl urea
    • Quaternium-15
    • Isothiazolinone and, especially, methylisothiazolinone.

Paraphenylenediamine in hair dye

  • Paraphenylenediamine (PPD) is the third most common ingredient after fragrances and preservatives to cause allergic contact dermatitis.
  • It is used widely in permanent hair dyes because it results in a natural colour.
  • Reactions to PPD may be mild and involve dermatitis to the upper eyelids or rims of the ears or may be more severe with swelling of the scalp, face and more widely.
  • New derivatives of PPD have a lower risk of causing an allergy.

Other allergens used in cosmetics that can cause cosmetics allergy include:

  • Lanolin (wool alcohol)
  • Coconut diethanolamide
  • Glyceryl monothioglycolate
  • Methyldibromo glutaronitrile
  • Rosin (colophony)
  • Propolis
  • Thiomersal
  • Sunscreen allergens
  • Nail cosmetic allergens

How is cosmetic allergy diagnosed?

Cosmetic allergy is diagnosed by performing patch tests. A diagnosis may involve testing against some different chemicals due to the many potential allergens in cosmetics, as well as the person’s cosmetics applied as-is. See individual contact allergens for patch testing recommendations.

An open application test may also be recommended.

Patch tests revealing multiple contact allergies to fragrances

What is the treatment for cosmetic allergy?

Contact dermatitis should clear rapidly once the cosmetic allergen is removed. Over-the-counter creams and ointments containing mild topical steroids, such as hydrocortisone cream, may be used to help control itching, swelling, and redness. A prescription steroid cream may be required for severe reactions, as well as an antibiotic for a secondary bacterial infection. Bland emollients such as cetomacrogol cream can be used to soothe and relieve dryness.

Prevention of cosmetic allergy

The best way to prevent contact allergic dermatitis to cosmetics is by avoiding all products that contain the allergen.

  • Read the list of ingredients on all cosmetic products to identify if they contain a relevant allergen.
  • Test new cosmetics placing a small sample of the product on the inner wrist or elbow and observe for 24–48 hours.
  • Choose products with few ingredients to minimise potential allergens.
  • Apply perfume to clothing rather than to the skin; allow the perfume to dry before putting on the clothes.
  • Look for products that are hypoallergenic, fragrance-free and non-comedogenic. However, be aware that these may still cause reactions.

What to Do if You Have an Allergic Reaction on Your Face

Even if you don’t have sensitive skin, you’ve probably still experienced a skin reaction or two. Maybe you were so excited to try a new product that that you forgot to do a patch test and ended up breaking out in an itchy, red rash. But unlike normal skin which only rarely experiences an inflammatory response, sensitive skin sufferers experience irritated skin regularly. Sometimes it doesn’t even take a new product to send people with sensitive skin into full rash mode.

To get to the bottom of what is causing allergic reactions on your face, I recommend documenting your habits to look for patterns. What did you eat that day? What were you using on your skin? Did you change laundry detergents? Finding out what’s causing your rash is just as important as treating it. But when you’re covered in little red bumps or itchy hives, your only thought is how to get rid of your rash and get rid of it FAST. Here are basic steps you should follow to ensure speedy skin healing.

Soothe It

As soon as you notice a reaction, reach for an anti-inflammatory cream that contains 0.5% hydrocortisone. Mix it with equal parts aloe vera gel and apply twice daily to the affected area. Hydrocortisone soothes inflammation while aloe cools and hydrates, providing immediate relief for hot, itchy skin.

Cool It

Break out the ice! Gently rub the rashy area with an ice cube to reduce inflammation and slightly numb the skin. The cold will help reduce redness, swelling, and discomfort.

Treat It

As soon as you notice the telltale signs of an allergy on your skin, pop an antihistamine like Benadryl. Skin allergies occur when the body produces histamine, a natural immune compound that causes inflammation and rashes. Antihistamines help block this response to relieve hives, itching, and redness.

Go Basic

Inflamed and irritated skin is especially sensitive to topical treatments. Put away your serums and peels for a few days and pare down your routine to avoid damaging your skin. Use a super gentle cleanser and moisturizer like Cetaphil. Once your skin is completely healed, you can begin using your regular products.

Shop the products

  1. Hydrating Gel Sulfate-Free Facial Cleanser $24.00 Out of stock

Give it Time

Unfortunately, while rashes may seem to pop up in an instant,they do take sometime to heal completely. If you are in extreme discomfort or don’t experience full relief in 3-5 days, it’s time to see a dermatologist for more serious anti-inflammatory measures.

Model Lindsey Wixson was having a very good season—walking in a number of big shows and serving as the face of several spring advertising campaigns—until she unexpectedly had to miss the end of Paris fashion week. “I’m coming home tomorrow due to an allergic reaction to the make-up from the day before,” the 16-year-old tweeted on Monday.

I’ve personally never had a bad reaction to makeup, but I’ve seen it happen. A friend broke out in hives just hours before her wedding. A makeup artist had applied foundation that clearly didn’t agree with her skin, and she had red welts on her face, neck, back. Benadryl cleared things up just in time, but it sure wasn’t how she planned to spend the last hour before she walked down the aisle. We asked a few dermatologists for some advice on what to do when allergies attack. Here’s what we learned:

There are two kinds of allergic reactions. The most common is irritant contact dermatitis, which is when an ingredient causes an irritation to broken or otherwise injured skin. This doesn’t need to be a visible cut on your skin; it could be caused by anything from a bit of windburn to an exfoliating cleanser, and you can have this kind of reaction to an ingredient that’s never bothered you before. (My friend, for instance, did a dry run with her makeup artist a few weeks before the wedding and had been completely fine with the foundation that was used.) It’s less common to have allergic contact dermatitis, which is when you have a particular allergy to a specific ingredient.

In either case, the reaction will probably be the same. “The first thing that happens is the feeling of itching, stinging or burning,” says dermatologist Jeannette Graf. “After that, you may experience redness, swelling, blistering, scaling, and peeling.”

Immediately remove whatever has been applied to your skin. “Even if you don’t see anything but feel burning, itching and stinging, remove the make-up immediately and apply cooling compresses to your skin to relieve the symptoms,” says Dr. Graf. If you skin is still itching or you notice red welts, take an antihistamine such as Benadryl or Zyrtec and use an over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream or aloe to soothe your skin.

If the reaction persists for more than a few days or it seems very serious to you, see a dermatologist. “If you wind up seeing your doctor for the allergy, it is really helpful to bring the product and packaging with the ingredient list along to the visit,” says dermatologist Ranella Hirsch. “It really helps us to identify the potential culprit, and give you the best advice on what products to avoid going forward.” Hirsch notes that fragrance is a leading cause of product allergies, so if you’re sensitive, that’s something to avoid.

Beauty products can help you feel good on the outside, but they can also cause an allergic reaction or irritated skin. Allergies occur when your body’s natural immune system sees a specific substance (allergen) as dangerous to your body. When this happens, it causes an allergic reaction. Allergies come from a variety of sources: food, drugs, mold, insects, pollen, pet, latex, and yes…makeup.

Allergies occur when your body’s natural immune system sees a specific substance (allergen) as dangerous to your body.

There are two basic types of negative skin reactions to makeup allergies. Allergic contact dermatitis involves your immune system. Symptoms from this type of reaction include hives, itching, swelling, and redness. Another type of reaction is known as irritant contact dermatitis that causes damage to your skin in the area where you used the product. These symptoms include itching, stinging, burning, or even blisters at the site

Allergens can enter your body in many ways.

1. Ingestion
Allergens, such as food or drugs, can be ingested through your mouth.

2. Absorption
Allergens can be absorbed through your skin. This includes, but not limited to, plants, latex, metals, and ingredients in beauty products.

3. Inhalation
Some allergens are small enough to float through the air and enter your body by inhalation. Some examples include dust, pollen, and pet dander.

4. Injection
Certain types of allergens are injected through the skin, including medicines administered through needles.

Is it possible to be allergic to makeup?

It’s a startling question, isn’t it? We’re all quite aware of the allergies that come in food or seasonal form, but can your makeup be making you sick? If you love wearing beauty products, it can be a major killjoy when you realize that you’re actually allergic to the great, new product that everyone’s gushing over. This post is for those of you who suspect you may have a makeup allergy but aren’t sure yet. It’s for those of you who’ve ever wondered if a certain food was the cause of your breakouts. And it’s also for those of you thought your skin irritation was in response to old, expired makeup.

What are the symptoms of an allergy?

Depending on the severity of symptoms, an allergic reaction can be short-term, long-term, and even life-threatening. Allergens can affect your body in several
ways. Sinusitis, an inflammation of the sinuses, can cause painful pressure in the head, swelling of the nose, and a mucus discharge from the nose. Skin allergies occur when your skin comes in contact with an allergen that your skin is sensitive to. One of the most common type of allergies are eye allergies. Indoor and outdoor allergens can get into your eyes, causing redness, swelling, itchiness, and tearing of the eyes. Lastly, nasal allergies (rhinitis) is literally an inflammation of the nose. With this type of allergy, the allergen can cause a higher or thicker production of mucus. This can lead to an irritation at the back of the throat causing coughing or congestion.

Here are some common allergic reactions:

  • Itchy/Watery Eyes
  • Cough
  • Tongue Swelling
  • Wheezing
  • Itchy/Runny nose
  • Swelling
  • Pain
  • Vomiting
  • Rash/Hives
  • Sneezing
  • Redness
  • Diarrhea
  • How do you know if you’re allergic to makeup?

    A makeup allergy can show up in a variety of ways. The most common type of allergic reaction is known as contact dermatitis. There
    are two types of contact dermatitis: irritant and allergic. Irritant contact dermatitis is caused by a product that, once applied, directly damages your skin. Your skin may respond with redness, itchiness or a burning sensation. This is a clear indicator that your skin is not comfortable with the ingredients present in the cosmetics product.

    Allergic contact dermatitis can show up as hives, swelling, redness or dry patches on your skin. This, too, is a dead giveaway that something isn’t right in your makeup.

    Redness isn’t the only skin coloration to be on the lookout for. Some allergic reactions can create darkened skin and blackheads.

    Let’s take a closer look at the main culprits in cosmetics that are responsible for breakouts, redness, irritation, inflammation, dry patches and so much more. Check out the common allergens that could be hiding in your cosmetics case.

    What are the most common culprits of cosmetics allergies?

    Synthetic fragrance – The top offender is most definitely synthetic fragrance. As it turns out, fragrance is not just harmful to your skin, it can also lead to a host of other issues, such as respiratory irritation and damage your reproductive system. Yikes.

    Fragrance is one of the most ubiquitous ingredients in cosmetics. From chapsticks to facial cleansers, you’ll find artificial fragrance high up on the ingredients list.

    You’ll need to scout for products that explicitly say “fragrance-free.” So-called “unscented” products can still contain a neutralizing fragrance that is used to mask the smell of other chemicals in the products. Even if it seems unscented, it could still trigger an unpleasant reaction.

    Preservatives — Preservatives can also trigger allergies. Many cosmetic products are loaded with preservatives to keep them shelf-safe for months (or even years!) in all manner of inhospitable environments (such as trans-pacific shipping containers and sweltering hot warehouses). In order to keep their products usable for a long period of time, cosmetics companies turn to preservatives like parabens. Parabens prevent the growth of bacteria and mold, which sounds good in theory, but researchers have also found a link between this preservative and skin irritation.

    Parabens are one of the most widely used preservatives in cosmetics because not everyone has a reaction to them. This is why you’ll commonly see parabens in foundations, powders, eyeliners, eyeshadows, lipstick, and blushes. They’re even in makeup removers, toothpastes, and sunscreens. However, if you’re one of the millions who is affected by parabens, you’ll want to avoid any product that contains this unholy preservative.

    Low-grade ingredients — Last but certainly not least on the list of known skin irritants are cheap, low-grade ingredients. A lot of big-name cosmetic companies simply go for the cheapest ingredients possible. As long as these ingredients don’t present an issue with the majority of their customer base, these companies will opt for the cheapest (and therefore, lowest quality) products available.

    Preservatives can also trigger allergies. Many cosmetic products are loaded with preservatives to keep them shelf-safe for months (or even years!)

    The problem with this is that some of their customers will experience an allergic reaction– and it stinks when that person is you. If you have an autoimmune disease or a sensitivity to certain chemicals, you’re can never be too careful with what you wear because the slightest imbalance can leave you with irritated skin for days.

    But let’s not overlook the glaring fact that, even if you don’t have an intense allergic reaction to these harmful ingredients, it doesn’t redeem them. These ingredients are still not worthy of putting on your skin, and certainly won’t nourish or protect it.

    This is a fact that you’ll likely confront more and more as you get older. When you’re younger, your body can more readily fight off foreign invaders, such as the toxic ingredients that found in many cosmetics products. However, as you get older, your body doesn’t want to fight. It simply wants to expel. This is why you may feel like your skin is becoming more sensitive as you age. You’ve been blaming a change in the product’s formula, but it’s more than likely a change in the way that your immune system handles foreign threats.

    You may be allergic to a product but not see a reaction until hours, weeks or even years later. How can that be? It’s all about how the immune system responds to the offending foreign agent. Most of the time, you’ll see a negative reaction within hours of application. However, it’s also possible for the immune system to develop a strong negative reaction to products that you’ve loved for years.

    How do you treat an allergic reaction on your face?

    Beauty products such as makeup can cause allergic reactions to your face that lead to redness, swelling, and itchiness. The skin on your face makes it more susceptible to allergic reactions from ingredients in beauty products. If you have a makeup allergy, there are a few ways to treat the reaction depending on the location, type, and severity of the symptoms. Common treatments include moisturizers, corticosteroids, and antihistamines.

    The skin on your face makes it more susceptible to allergic reactions from ingredients in beauty products.

    How do you treat an allergic reaction to makeup?

    Just as any allergic reaction to your face, treatments to your makeup allergy include antihistamines to reduce the redness, itchiness, and swelling. Specialized moisturizers can help moisturize your skin and
    reduce the itching caused by the ingredients in your makeup. For a quick relief, you can even apply a cold compress to reduce inflammation and relieve itchiness. In addition, corticosteroids can help with breathing difficulties as well as reduce inflammation. Mild corticosteroids are
    available online or over the counter. However, oral steroids and stronger creams require a prescription.

    Surprisingly, there are quite a few high-end cosmetics companies that still do business as drugstore brands. In a blind test where you simply compare ingredients, you’ll notice that the ingredients found in the luxury brands are identical to those in the drugstore brands. A lot of times, you simply pay for reputation, and not much else.

    Specialized moisturizers can help moisturize your skin and reduce the itching caused by the ingredients in your makeup.

    Here’s how Red Apple Lipstick is different from those guys:

    All of our products are handmade in small batches. Our products simply cannot sit on
    the shelf for five years (and counting). However, most big box cosmetic companies
    create “unmeltable” products that can be sustained in a hot docking warehouse and your hot car. For example, big box lipsticks contain phthalates, which are a type of plasticizer. Phthalates, esters of phthalic acid, have a negative impact on your health. These chemicals are found in everything from cosmetics and fragrances to household cleaners and food packaging. Researchers
    have even linked phthalates to such health issues as autism, behavioral issues, obesity, breast cancer, ADHD, and obesity.

    Plasticizers are used to keep lipstick soft and not brittle over the course of many years and under brutal conditions. No wonder these harsh chemicals lead to skin irritation! Here at Red Apple, we don’t use plasticizers or toxic preservatives. We believe in creating cosmetics that enhance your beauty while nourishing your skin at the same time.

    Final Thoughts

    It’s a pity that a product, which is designed to enhance your natural beauty, can actually destroy your skin. From redness to rashes, allergies are no joke and can leave you feeling hopeless. The good news is that you don’t have to fear what’s lurking in all beauty products. All of our products are free of preservatives, gluten, lead, petroleum and other toxic chemicals. For allergy-free makeup, check out our store right now.

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