What causes cosmetic allergies

There are literally thousands of ingredients used in skincare and cosmetic preparations. Although everyone's skin is diverse, we do know that certain ingredients are more likely to cause irritation than others.

Fragrances are a common culprit. Even though it is listed as a single ingredient, a perfume can be comprised of hundreds of diverse chemical components, numerous of which are damaging to the skin.

Preservatives are another common culprits.

Although these ingredients are necessary to extend shelf life and prevent rancidity, preservatives are also known to cause contact dermatitis in some people.

Colorants also pose a risk. These include agents classified by the U.S. Food and Drug istration (FDA) as food, drug, and cosmetic (FD&C) colorants. People allergic to these colorants in food will likely be allergic to them in their cosmetics as well.

Any colorant can cause contact dermatitis on sensitive skin, but reds, yellows, and carmine tend to be the more common culprits.

Natural Products

Despite what some people may tell you, all-natural ingredients can cause contact dermatitis as well.

Chief among these are essential oils that can provide skincare products with an appealing perfume but are almost invariably irritating if used in too high concentrations.

Another natural ingredient that is commonly linked to contact dermatitis is lanolin. Lanolin is derived from sheep wool and is used in moisturizing products love body lotions and facial creams.

So if you're having a reaction to a cosmetic, don't overlook your natural or organic products.

Natural doesn't always mean safe.

Irritant contact dermatitis is not a true allergy because the immune system is not involved. The reaction is restricted to the skin only.

Mild contact dermatitis may cause little red pimples that can easily be mistaken for acne. Rash love this is referred to as an acneiform rash.

Though irritant dermatitis may initially be subclinical (without noticeable symptoms), it may eventually become clinical as you continue to expose the skin to low-level irritants.

The preservatives most likely to cause contact dermatitis are parabens, formaldehyde, formalin, imadazolidinyl urea, isothiazolinone, methylisothiazolinone, and quaternium-15.

Tea tree oil is the essential oil most commonly linked to dermatitis, requiring but a few drops per 30 milliliters to trigger an adverse reaction in some people.

Cosmetic products (such as soaps, lotions, face and eye make up, fragrances, etc.) can provoke allergic reactions in some people.

Numerous people suffer from allergies and anyone at any age can develop allergies. Allergic reactions are the immune system’s overreaction to substances that may otherwise be harmless.

What causes cosmetic allergies

An allergen can trigger the immune system to release chemical substances such as antibodies that result in allergy symptoms. Numerous people are familiar with seasonal allergies brought on by pollen from blooming plants, or with food allergies. Allergic reactions to cosmetics most often appear as itchy, red rashes on the skin – or contact dermatitis.

This sheet provides information about:

Fragrances may be composed of several diverse ingredients:

As noted under, these specific ingredients may not be identified on the cosmetic product label.

What causes cosmetic allergies

The European Commission, which has conducted extensive research on perfume allergens, lists the following 26 perfume ingredients listed as allergens in Annex III of the European Union Cosmetics Directive:

  1. Oak moss extract
  2. Citral
  3. Anisyl alcohol
  4. Coumarin
  5. Benzyl alcohol
  6. Cinnamyl alcohol
  7. g-Methylionone
  8. Hydroxycitronellal
  9. Benzyl salicylate
  10. Geraniol
  11. Lilial
  12. Benzyl benzoate
  13. Amyl cinnamal
  14. Isoeugenol
  15. Eugenol
  16. Methyl 2-octynoate
  17. Cinnamaldehyde
  18. Hexyl cinnamaladehyde
  19. Hydroxyisohexyl 3-cyclohexene carboxaldehyde (HICC), (also known as Lyral)
  20. Amylcinnamyl alcohol
  21. Linalool
  22. d-Limonene
  23. Farnesol
  24. Citronellol
  25. Benzyl cinnamate
  26. Tree moss extract

Preservatives may be listed as:

  • Methylisothiazolinone (MIT)
  • Methylchloroisothiazolinone (CMIT)
  • Formaldehyde and formaldehyde releasing ingredients:
    1. Sodium hydroxymethylglycinate
    2. Diazolidinyl urea
    3. Bronopol (2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol)
    4. DMDM hydantoin (1,3-dimethylol-5,5-dimethylhydantoin)
    5. 5-bromo-5-nitro-1,3-dioxane
    6. Imidazolidinyl urea
    7. Quaternium-15 (Dowicil 200; N-(3-chloroallyl) hexaminium chloride)


    Textbook contact dermatitis symptoms include reddened, raised bumps and itchy skin.

    Sometimes, little fluid-filled blisters also develop.

    But, contact dermatitis is not always this acute or severe. You may own mild irritant contact dermatitis without obvious itchy rash. Sometimes the only symptom is dry skin. Maybe it's a flaky patch that never seems to go away completely.

    Or, maybe your skin just looks slightly reddened and dehydrated no matter how often you moisturize. Your skin may own a rough, uneven or sandpapery glance.

    What causes cosmetic allergies

    Skin may feel boiling to the touch or glance flushed.

    Your face is the most common put to develop his mild, chronic type of contact dermatitis. It's especially likely to crop up on the eyelids, cheeks, around the corners of the nose and mouth, and the chin.


    Mild chronic contact dermatitis is most often caused by skincare products: soap, facial cleansers or body washes, lotions or creams, toners, or makeup. While allergic contact dermatitis will typically happen soon after application, irritant contact dermatitis reaction can develop over time and sometimes take years before symptoms develop.

    It's precisely because we use our skincare products every day, week after week, month after month, that irritation can develop.

    It's not that the products are "bad" or "unhealthy" per se.

    What causes cosmetic allergies

    It's simply that long-term exposure to any topical substance can potentially chip away at the architecture of skin without us even knowing.

    One such example is a facial cleanser that makes your skin squeaky clean. In fact, you may be stripping significant natural moisturizing factor (NMF) needed to protect the skin. Over time, the cleanser will no longer "clean" the skin but instead compromise the exterior barrier of cells known as the stratum corneum.

    Signs and Symptoms of Contact Dermatitis

    Common Allergens Found in Cosmetic Products

    The FDA has compiled the list under of common allergens found in some cosmetic products.

    These are allergens that cause most allergic reactions from the use of cosmetic products.

    Common allergens drop into the five classes as detailed below:  natural rubber, fragrances, preservatives, dyes, and metals.

    What Consumers Can Do

    Regarding possible allergens in cosmetics, the best way to prevent an allergic reaction is to know what you are sensitive to and how to avoid it. One way to achieve this is by carefully reading the product ingredient panel and avoiding ingredients you know or ponder you are allergic to. It isn’t enough to check for terms love “hypoallergenic”, “fragrance-free” or “for sensitive skin,” as there is no federal standard or definition that governs the use of these terms in the U.S.

    However, under the authority of the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act (FPLA), the U.S. Food and Drug istration (FDA) requires an ingredient declaration on cosmetic products sold at the retail level to consumers. However, certain ingredients may be listed generally as “fragrance,” or “perfume,” without identifying the specific ingredients.

    If you own reviewed the product ingredient panel and still own questions regarding the substances in the product, you may contact the manufacturer listed in the product label. In addition, consumers should always check product labels and follow the manufacturer instructions before applying as directed.

    Reading the label on products is especially significant as some products contain ingredients that may cause irritation, regardless of whether you own allergies or not.

    What causes cosmetic allergies

    For example, manufacturers of certain hair dyes instruct users to test a little quantity of product first – to see if they own a sensitivity to the ingredients in the product before applying it more broadly.

    Symptoms of Allergic Reactions

    Allergic reactions can range in severity, but may include hives, itchy skin, a rash, flaking or peeling skin, facial swelling, irritation of the eyes, nose and mouth, wheezing, and anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction that can be life-threatening. Symptoms of anaphylaxis include a lack of consciousness, shortness of breath, trouble swallowing, lightheadedness, chest pain, a rapid, feeble pulse, nausea, and vomiting.

    What causes cosmetic allergies

    If anaphylaxis symptoms happen, seek medical attention immediately.

    In addition to allergic contact dermatitis, perfume ingredients may also affect the respiratory system because they are essentially vapor and can be inhaled. This is especially true in patients with asthma, allergic rhinitis, and viral respiratory infections. For people with sensitivities to certain fragrances, inhaling them may result in shortness of breath, the sensation of being suffocated, coughing, phlegm, a runny or stuffy nose, headache, chest tightness, and wheezing.

    If you experience symptoms of what you suspect is an allergic reaction, consult your healthcare professional, as sensitivity to allergens can become more severe over time.

    Be certain to discuss with your healthcare provider what product or specific substance you ponder might be triggering the allergic reaction. They may recommend diverse types of tests to better understand what you are allergic to.

    If you believe you own experienced an adverse event (allergic reaction or illness) after using a cosmetic product, you can also submit a report to the FDA. The FDA encourages consumers with questions about cosmetic products to submit inquiries.

    Testing for Allergens

    There is some excellent news. You don’t own to wait until you own an allergic reaction to attempt and figure out what you are allergic to.

    You can get tested. Knowing precisely what allergen has caused a reaction will assist you to avoid further exposure to the substance. Your healthcare provider may recommend you undergo patch testing or some other, less frequently used tests.

    1. Patch Test
      This test is often used to diagnose dermatitis, or irritation and swelling of the skin. This test involves placing a little quantity of allergen on the skin and covering it for 48 hours. A doctor will examine the skin after 72 to 96 hours and check for signs of an allergic reaction, including, redness, a rash, or hives.

      Based on the symptoms present, the physician can determine whether the patient has had an allergic reaction. Patch testing requires two to three office visits.

      If a patient has extremely sensitive skin, this type of testing may not be specific enough to assist identify allergens and other methods may be used.

    Types of Reactions

    Dermatitis is the term used to describe any red, itchy, irritation of the skin.

    When it's caused by something that touches the skin, it's called contact dermatitis. Skincare products, makeup, and personal care products love deodorant and shampoo are common causes of contact dermatitis.

    Around 80% of every contact dermatitis cases are irritant contact dermatitis.Your skin is irritated or sensitive to something that you've touched. Irritant contact dermatitis can develop quickly after exposure to an offending substance, within a few hours or even minutes.

    But it can also take days or sometimes weeks for irritation to develop.

    Whenever we own a reaction to a product, we often tell that we're "allergic" to it, but this isn't always the case.

    By contrast, allergic contact dermatitis is a true allergy to a substance. In allergic contact dermatitis, the reaction is often more severe with intensely red, itchy, swollen skin. The reaction typically takes about 12 hours to develop and peaks about 48 hours after exposure.