Help! I’ve had an allergic reaction from a cosmetic product!

Most of us try a new cosmetic or skincare product straight away without thinking of doing a patch test beforehand. After all, what are the chances of a cosmetic product causing a negative reaction? Unless you have very sensitive or allergy prone skin, you have more than likely used quite a lot of products without any side effects at all and think patch tests to be an unnecessary annoyance. Until you slather a new product on your face and your skin suddenly becomes all red, swollen and irritated! What can we do when that happens?

1. Figure out what products are causing the problem

Sometimes, it’s easy to find out what product is causing the irritation or allergy. If you have just applied a new product, such as foundation or moisturizer for example, on your skin for the first time and, after a few hours, your skin is red, itchy, swollen and irritated, then stop using it immediately as it is clear that it is causing problems for you. But unfortunately, allergies can develop at any time and, even products that you’ve been using for years can, all of a sudden, cause a negative reaction. In this case, try eliminating a product at a time from your beauty routine until you find the culprit.

2. Find out what ingredients are causing the allergy

Now you know what product you reacted badly to, have a look at the ingredient list. I know, all those long, scientific names can be quite daunting! Start by finding out if the product contains a fragrance as that is, very often, the main culprit. Next, look at the preservatives. Those that work by releasing formaldehyde (DMDM hydantoin, imidazolidinyl urea, diazolidinyl urea, and 2-bromo-2nitropropane-1, 3-diol) and methyl chloroisothiazolinone/ methyl isothiazolinone, and to a lesser extent parabens, can all cause allergies. Of course it may be that you are reacting to something else entirely so just compare the ingrdient list of the product that caused the allergy to the others in your stash until you notice one or two that are present only in the culprit one. That’s likely to have caused the problem. But of course the only way to be sure would be to consult a doctor and do some allergy tests.

3. Use a cortisone cream

Figuring out what caused the allergy is very important, but in the meantime, what can we do to treat our skin? Use an over the counter cortisone cream, such as Cortaid, which are easily available. This will relieve the itching and reduce inflammation caused by the allergy. Keep applying it for a few days until your skin has gone back to normal. You should also consult your doctor, who will be able to prescribe the best treatment and also identify what triggered the reaction.

4. Don’t irritate skin more

Until your skin is back to normal, it’s necessary to treat it very gently to avoid irritating it even more. If you’re using skincare products with active ingredients such as Retinoids, Benzoyl Peroxide or skin lighteners, discontinue their use until the allergic reaction has subsided as they may be too harsh for irritated skin and make things worse. In addition, don’t sweat, rub skin, exfoliate (not even with a washcloth) and don’t use products with fragrances on the irritated area.

5. Consult a doctor

Of course, when you get an allergic reaction or just an irritation, it is always best to consult a doctor for proper treatment. But let’s face it. Most of us, just apply a cortisone cream and wait for the negative reaction to subside. And very often, that works. However, sometimes that’s not enough. If you don’t see any improvements after about six weeks, then you could either have a very, very severe allergic reaction that may need oral antihistamine (which need to be prescribed by a doctor) to heal or you may not have an allergy at all but a skin condition like psoriasis, rosacea or eczema for instance. In that case, consult a physician for a proper diagnosis and treatment.

Have you ever had an allergic reaction to a cosmetic product? How did you treat it? Share your experience in the comments.

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  1. says

    I never get an allergic reaction towards anything else but foundations :( No matter what brand it is, they give me allergic reactions.
    It itches and it drives me crazy.
    I think that Id look better wearing foundation, but its impossible.. :(
    Anna´s last blog post ..Rocking them red lipsMy Profile

    • beautifulwithbrains says

      Anna, that’s awful. It must be so frustrating for you! Does it happen with tinted moisturizers too? They don’t provide as much coverage as foundation but they still help to even out the skintone.

    • beautifulwithbrains says

      Makeup Morsels, that is awful! I’m sorry about the allergic reaction. Cortisone is a great help in those cases.

  2. Alexis says

    i have an allergic reaction to red pigment in eye products (shadow, liner, ect.) anything thats purple, pink, red, orange is out. my eyelids got red puffy itchy and disgustingly dry while my eyes became bloodshot. the doctor thought it was pink eye but it only occurs when i use red pigmented eye products. now i stay away and I am trying to make sure any other color does not have a red reflect or anything so it doesn’t happen again

    • beautifulwithbrains says

      Alexis, that sucks! But at least you know what causing the problem and, even though your choice of color is limited, you can now avoid the allergy from happening again. :)

    • beautifulwithbrains says

      Xin, sometimes waiting is the best thing to see if it’s an allergic reaction or just another skin condition. Also consulting a doctor is always preferable. :)

  3. Sole says

    Great post, as usual! I have allergic reactions to salicilic acid, alcool and self-tanners (I don’t know which ingredient it causes the problem and I am to lazy to go to the doctor)… I avoid them but sometimes I forget to read the ingredients list and I have terrible outbreaks :(

    • beautifulwithbrains says

      Sole, that’s awful! It’s easy to forget to read the ingredient lists sometimes, especially when one is in a rush but it sadly the only way to avoid problematic ingredients. :(

  4. Cassia says

    Bought a L’Oreal True Match foundation and got a slight allergic reaction. Slight rash next to my eyes that I thought was cause by me practicing a smokey eye one too many time.
    Now it’s also under my nose so, I know it’s not a coincidence. It sucks cause I feel like I wasted 15€ (that I can’t afford to waste), I did a patch test on my arm, neck and torso and they’re fine -_-‘

    So yeah, for me, apparently it’s Diazolidinyl that’s the problem, so I’ll know from now on, but since it was the first time I bought foundation I have no idea -_-‘

    • beautifulwithbrains says

      Cassia, I’m so sorry to hear that, must be very frustrating. But I’m glad that you have at least figured out what caused it so you can avoid it in the future.

  5. Vicki Moore says

    If anyone is allergic to Diazolidinyl Urea here are a few things I found that contain it:
    O’Keeffe’s Working Hands
    O’Keeffe’s Healthy Feet
    Bath & Body Works:
    White Cherry Blossom Lotion
    Sweet Pea Body Lotion
    Be Enchanted Body Cream
    Looks like alot of Bath & Body Works lotions. These are just a few I found in my home.

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