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Cosmetics For People With Makeup Allergies

Updated on October 5, 2011

It took me years to realize that I was allergic to makeup. I know it seems pretty simple: you put stuff on your face and then you get all itchy. Really though, it ISN'T that simple because make up allergies are tricky--so I'm not as dense as I may seem. The fact is, I'm not allergic to ALL make up or to every product within a certain line, so for years I thought my periodic itchy, red, swollen eyes could be attributed to some other environmental allergen. Eventually it occurred to me that there was a pattern. During one particular work week I realized that on the days that I wore a certain eye shadow, I was miserable but the rest of the week I was fine. After years of mysterious suffering, a light bulb finally turned on in my head. OK, maybe I am as dense as I seem because I really have no idea why it took me so long to figure it out.

What I learned is that even though there are no certain make up brands that I have to avoid all together (except Clinique) there are also no brands that are 100% safe for me either. Finding wearable cosmetics for the allergy sufferer is largely a matter of trial and error. You can try to research "safe" or "hypoallergenic" brands online but but since there is no actual standard for the meaning of "hypoallergenic" , any company can include it in the description of any product they choose. What you will find is endless testimonials-- and that for every product ten women swear by, there will be ten more who busted out in a hideous case of the hives just from wagging the applicator brush in front of her face. Each of us must do our own research.

I started with Physicians Formula since the line was created for people with sensitive skin and I had some success there. I found that their mascara and eyeliners don't bother me at all, and that I am also able to use a few of their eye shadows without irritation. However, their mineral wear and organic products are out the question. I had similar results with Almay. Revlon Colorstay eye shadow doesn't bother me and neither do most of their mascaras but Revlon eyeliners do. I think you get the point. I also experimented with the more expensive department store cosmetics and products from Mary Kay and Avon, but there really didn't seem to be any difference, from what I can tell, between "upper end" and "lower end" cosmetics when it comes to allergies.

If you choose to embark on your own makeup quest, I would suggest that you keep and log of specific products and the shades that you purchased. Eventually some patterns will probably emerge. I, for instance, seem to be allergic to various shades of green eyeshadow within product lines that don't otherwise bother me and I've heard people say the same thing about reds and pinks. I've also noticed that I am particularly sensitive to glittery or shimmery products. The more matte, the better, as far as I'm concerned.

Try to find cosmetics with as few ingredients as possible.

Avoid products that contain fragrances and synthetic colors (D&C Green No.6, for example).

Keep a look out for chemicals such as Imidazolidinyl Urea and Diazolinyl Urea (both of which are formaldehyde releasors) and also for parabens such as Benzyl Hydroxybenzoate and Propylparaben.

Keep your receipts. If you purchase a product and have an allergic reaction to it you can return it to the retailer. This process doesn't have to bankrupt you.

Where should you start? I've included a list of product lines that might be helpful and are easy to find, but there are no guarantees that any of them will work for you, they are just to get you started. Physicians Formula, Almay, Revlon, Bare Minerals and Clinique (I can't use either of these last two but many other make up allergy sufferers swear by them), Arbonne, Neutrogena.

Good luck!


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    • profile image

      Elisabeth 4 years ago

      Thank you for this information. I recently figured out that I am allergic to Revlon Color Stay eyeshadow. I am trying to figure out alternatives.

    • profile image

      Liv 4 years ago

      Hi. I just found out yesterday that I'm allergic to Revlon Concealer. i've been using make up for years but it was the first time I tried this product. What scares me is that unlike other people who will have itchy skin or redness, mine was BAD....I COULDN'T BREATHE, DIZZY, LIGHTHEADED....scared the hell out of me. And thiswas just happened a couple of minutes after applying the product! Good thing I have my anti histamine ready and I washed my face like 3 or 4 timea and I got better. Now, I'm so scared to try new products.

    • S G Hupp profile image

      S G Hupp 6 years ago from United States

      Thanks for reading, faith1003! Just yesterday I tried a new color in a product line that has never bothered me before and spent the whole day with big red puffy eyes. There really is a lot of trial and error involved...

    • faith1003 profile image

      faith1003 6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Thanks for this information. I'm allergic to most makeup products and it's hard to try new ones because you don't know how it's going to to react with you. Now I know what to stay away from. Thanks :)