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How to Avoid Allergic reactions from Cosmetics?

How to Avoid Allergic reactions from Cosmetics?

We live in times where allergic reactions to specific ingredients are increasingly common. This applies not only to allergens in food and medications but also to airborne and contact allergens. Among the latter are cosmetic products, which can cause allergic reactions upon direct contact with the skin. In this article, we will explore which cosmetic ingredients may cause allergies, how they manifest, and how we can check if a product triggers an allergic reaction.


Allergic Reaction - What Is It?

It is a reaction that can cause symptoms such as itching, redness, rash, swelling, puffiness, itching, dryness, peeling of the skin, burning, and rash upon contact with an allergen. Allergic reactions may not occur immediately; they can manifest after several days or even a week. Allergies most commonly occur at the site where the cosmetic product was applied. Sometimes, the allergic reaction may spread to multiple areas on the body. Allergy symptoms can vary in intensity and may be temporary or persistent.


Which Ingredients Can Cause Allergies in Cosmetics?

There are many allergenic substances in cosmetic products. The most common ones include preservatives and fragrance ingredients. Natural ingredients (such as chamomile, marigold, flower pollen, propolis, essential oils) or animal-derived ingredients (lanolin or beeswax) can also have significant irritant potential. However, these allergens may not pose a threat to all consumers, as some people’s bodies develop a defensive reaction. It’s not widely known that metals can also lead to allergies (e.g., titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, gold, silver). Individuals allergic to fragrance substances should opt for fragrance-free cosmetics, but for those with allergies, hypoallergenic cosmetics are the most suitable. However, it’s essential to remember that not every skin redness indicates an allergy. Sometimes, the alcohol in the cosmetic product can irritate the skin, visually resembling an allergic reaction. Before a cosmetic product is approved for use, it must undergo various safety tests, including microbiological assessment, application tests confirming effectiveness, stability and compatibility studies, and dermatological tests. While the latter are not mandatory, many companies choose to conduct them. Unfortunately, despite thorough testing, it’s impossible to completely rule out the occurrence of adverse reactions.


Hypoallergenic Cosmetics

Products of this type are less likely to cause allergic reactions. This can be a hint for consumers that if they want to minimize the risk of allergies after using a cosmetic product, they should choose a hypoallergenic one. These cosmetics are typically preferred by individuals with “sensitive” skin. The evaluation of data confirming the low allergenic potential of a given product must be comprehensive and multi-stage. Useful documents include material safety data sheets, technical documents, raw material documents, and specifications, as well as user data and scientific literature, particularly dermatological literature. While hypoallergenic cosmetics cause fewer allergies and certainly less frequently, this does not mean they are entirely free of allergens. These products lack substances that most commonly cause allergies, which is the main characteristic distinguishing them from their traditional counterparts.


Guide to Checking if a Cosmetic Product Causes Allergies

Few people are aware of the ingredients they are allergic to. To find out, you must conduct a “test.” This involves applying a small amount of the cosmetic product to the skin behind the ear or the upper part of the arm. It is best to choose areas where the skin is thinner and more sensitive to ensure a faster and more visible allergic reaction. A good practice is to perform the test in an inconspicuous area of the body, so that, in case of a positive allergic reaction, the affected area is covered. After applying the cosmetic, wait for 24 hours. After this period, perform another test – if no allergy symptoms occur, it means that you are not allergic to any ingredient in the product. If an allergy does occur, you should immediately stop using the cosmetic and consult a doctor if necessary.


The Most Popular Method of Diagnosing Cosmetic Allergies

When it comes to professionally determining which ingredients you are allergic to, patch tests are becoming an increasingly popular method for diagnosing cosmetic allergies. This test allows for the detection of skin allergies and is indicated for conditions such as skin rash, runny nose, watery eyes, and shortness of breath. Allergens are applied to patches in the interscapular region. The evaluation considers the occurrence of redness. A positive result indicates that the allergic cause of the rash has been found. The test can be performed under the National Health Fund (NFZ) only with a referral from an allergist or dermatologist. Privately, the cost of the test ranges from around 120 to 400 PLN.



Before purchasing a cosmetic product, it is worth analyzing its composition and taking a moment to choose products with the lowest allergenic potential. This is especially important for individuals who have experienced allergic reactions in the past. One can never be sure that if they are not allergic to something today, it will not change in a few days or weeks. Therefore, it is challenging to talk about the complete elimination of an allergen. However, tests conducted by allergists and dermatologists are helpful. The test results indicate which specific ingredients the patient is allergic to, and consequently, what should be eliminated from cosmetic care.


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