There are hundreds of thousands of skin care products on the market today. Do you know what you’re putting on your skin? In an FDA conducted survey, up to 25% of people reported that they had experienced an allergic reaction to at least one beauty care product. Beauty products range from shampoo, soaps, moisturizers, cosmetics, cologne and everything in between.
There are two common forms of allergic reactions that a person may experience after coming into contact with an allergen. One reaction is known as irritant contact dermatitis. This occurs when a product physically damages the skin. You may experience, burning, stinging, itching and redness on the surface where you have applied the product. In some cases, oozing blisters can form, especially if you scratch at the irritated skin.
The second reaction is known as allergic contact dermatitis. This reaction involves your immune system. Symptoms can, include: redness, raw skin, swelling, hives and itching. While these reactions can present anywhere on the body, they most commonly form on the face, neck, ears and eyes.
These reactions can be difficult to tell apart and can even occur simultaneously. If you believe you are experiencing one, or both of these allergic reactions, it is imperative that you consult with your dermatologist immediately. Bag up all of your skin care products and take them to the doctor with you. This will help them, to help you, identify what allergens you may be in contact with.
Skin care products most likely to cause reactions, include: eye makeup, shampoos, bath soaps, moisturizers, antiperspirants, nail polish and fingernail glue. The most common culprits are fragrances and preservatives. Even when a skin care product does not promote itself as having a perfume, many of them do to mask the chemical smell. Always look for products that read, “Fragrance Free.” Even products labeled, “Unscented” may still include a fragrance allergen component.
When a product is formulated with water, they almost always have some preservatives in them.
The most common preservatives, include:
- Formaldehyde/Formaldehyde releasing preservatives
- Imidazolidinyl urea
- DMDM hydantoin
There are several ingredients to be aware of, including:
- Gluten, Peanut and Soy
- Silicone and Dimethicones
- 1,4 Dioxane
- Lanolin Alcohol
- Sorbic Acid
Beauty products that have alpha-hydroxy acids can cause problems for some people, like redness, swelling, blisters, and itching — especially with products that have an AHA level over 10%.
There are also several people who have experienced sensitivity to sunscreens. If you have a sunscreen allergy, speak to a dermatologist to determine your best defense against the sun’s UV rays. Sun protection is an important aspect to maintaining optimal skin health. In addition, it is a preventative measure that will guard against skin cancer.
Some common skin allergens you may find in sunscreen, include:
- PABA (para-aminobenzoic acid)
There are two ways a sunscreen allergy manifests: as a contact allergy or contact photoallergy. A contact allergy, will
produce a rash, or reaction, on the surface it is applied. A photoallergy, results after the skin where you have applied the sunscreen is exposed to the sunlight.
When choosing your skin care products a good rule of thumb, is to look for skin care products that have shorter ingredient lists. This will lower your chances of having a reaction.