Allergy to Cosmetics

For many people, the purpose of cosmetics and toiletries is to make us look good and feel clean. They are used safely by millions by men and women of all ages and skin types, worldwide. While many people have no problem, mild rashes and irritation are quite common and often go unrecognized. Irritant and allergic reactions may occur for anyone.

Irritant reactions reflect a damaging effect of the cosmetic or toiletry on the skin. An example of this would be the effect of too much soap or shampoo on the skin leading to chapping, dry skin and soreness. Delicate areas of the body where the skin is naturally thinner, such as the skin folds and the eyelids, are most vulnerable to irritating reactions. Other sorts of cosmetics which can cause irritation include foundation (especially those which contain boron nitride and silicon’s), mascaras (most have a high pH), face masks, toners and anti-aging creams. Some people suffer from particularly sensitive skin and experience break-outs, itching, burning or stinging. This is usually a form of irritation, rather than allergy, and is more common in people with skin complaints such as rosacea and dermatitis.

Allergic reactions involve the body’s immune system which is meant to fight unknown molecules — in this case, an ingredient of the cosmetic. In order to develop an allergy, you have to be exposed to the allergen more than once, and usually repeatedly. This means that you can become allergic to something which you have been using for a long time without any problem. What triggers the allergy process is unclear, but once developed, allergies like these are usually life-long. Allergic contact dermatitis/eczema appears as itchy, sore, red bumpy skin, which becomes flaky and dry.  If you avoid further contact with the allergen, it should improve within a week or so.

The management of suspected contact dermatitis involves temporarily stopping use of all cosmetics on the affected area and treating the skin with a steroid cream.

The most common ingredients in cosmetics which cause allergic reactions are fragrances, some harsh preservatives (formaldehyde releasing preservatives) and the use of highly concentrated essential oils. Other products which occasionally cause allergic reactions include nail varnish resin and sunscreens.

Hair dye is another common cause of allergic contact dermatitis and this is almost always caused by phenylene diamine chemicals. This sort of allergy often affects people who have colored their hair for years without any problem.

At UniKa Cosmetics our make up line is totally boron-nitride free; we only use Ecocert approved preservatives and the percentage of essential oils in our products is always 0.3% or under. Our selection of organic essential oils is based on the benefits that they have on the skin and not on the nice aroma that they may have and which, in the long run, could affect your health. Our staff are dedicated to help you make the most of your natural beauty, with natural cosmetics and can advise on which organic products are best for your skin.

Now, what is patch testing and why is it important? It is a test that can help to identify chemicals in cosmetics that your skin has become allergic to. If you know what you are allergic to, you can try to avoid it. Avoiding the substance should prevent any further flare-ups of the rash.

Which substances are tested? There is a standard set of the most common substances. Some of them can be found in the classic cosmetic industry, such us: Ethylenediamine, Formaldehyde, Fragrances, Imidazolidinyl urea, Paraben mix, Wool alcohols (lanolin). These are common additives to ointments, clothes, leathers, and other everyday materials. Remember, you can become allergic to something you have used many times before. This happens especially with highly concentrated essential oils. So for example, you can suddenly become allergic to your favorite soap or balm which you have used many times before.

At UniKa Cosmetics we always recommend our clients, particularly those with sensitive skin, to perform a patch test. This can easily be done at home. It should not be done with products that you would usually wash off, such as shampoos or shower gels, as these will simply irritate the skin.

Testing for body products is usually done on a clean spot on the inside of the wrist or elbow. Products for the face are usually tested on the jaw line or right below the jaw line, instead of directly on the face.

Apply a small amount of the product on the test spot and leave it on for 24 hours. If any rash, swelling, soreness, redness or other signs of irritation occur on the spot, gently wash the product off. If no sign of reaction occurs, the product should be safe for you to use.

Remember, we are all different and our bodies can react in different ways to different ingredients, so always come in and ask for a sample patch test at UniKa Cosmetics before you buy a new product, especially if you have a history of allergic reactions. We are proud to offer a comprehensive range of organic cosmetics and are excited to share them with you. The care and attention you receive with us is second to none and out products are chosen with care to keep your skin naturally healthy, and the planet green.

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