What to do when you're allergic to cosmetics

Getting a new beauty product is SO exciting. All you want to do is play with it straight away and see what miracle it can do for your skin.

But, sometimes the dream turns into a nightmare. Rather than smoother, plumper skin, that moisturiser is making your face all red, swollen, and irritated! What the heck is going on?!

An allergic reaction, most likely. Here’s how to deal with it:

1. Figure Out What Product Is Causing The Problem

Sometimes, this is really easy. If you’ve just introduced a brand new moisturizer into your skincare routine, you know that’s to blame.

This is why I always recommend to try one new product at a time. If you use two or three new ones at the same time, it’s gonna take longer to figure out which one is to blame for the allergy.

But, what if you didn’t use anything new? The problem with allergies is that they can develop at any time. You know what that means?

You could be using something for years with great results, and then one day your skin becomes all red and swollen because you’ve just developed an allergy to it!

If that happens to you, try eliminating one product at a time from your beauty routine until you find the real culprit.

Related: The Right Way To Introduce New Skincare Products In Your Skincare Routine

2. Find Out What Ingredient Is Causing The Allergy

Now you’ve found what product is causing the problem, don’t throw it out immediately. Check the ingredient list, first. If you don’t, chances are you’re just gonna buy another foundation/moisturizer/whatever with the same ingredient you’re allergic to.

But, ingredient lists are usually written in an alien, impossible-to-decipher language. How do you make sense of it and find out what ingredient is to blame? The main culprits usually are:

  • 2-bromo-2nitropropane-1,3-diol
  • Citrus oils
  • Dializodinyl urea
  • DMDM hydantoin
  • Essential oils
  • Fragrance
  • Imidazolidinyl urea
  • Methylchloroisothiazolinone
  • Methylisothiazolinone
  • Mint, peppermint, and anything minty
  • Synthetic UV filters (ex, Avobenzone, Oxybenzone…)

Keep in mind, though, that anything could be the culprit. The only way to know for sure is to go to the doctor and get allergy tests done.

In the meantime, compare the ingredients in the offending product with the other products you are using without any problems. There’s bound to be one or more ingredients in the offending product that’s not present in the other ones. One of those is the culprit.

Granted, this method isn’t as scientific as the allergy test, but it’s a good starting point until you can afford to see the doctor.

Need further help to narrow down the culprit? Click on the image below to sign up ton my newsletter and receive the “Skincare Ingredients To Avoid” cheat sheet with the most irritating ingredients lurking in your cosmetics:

Related: 7 Natural Ingredients That Can Irritate Skin

3. Use A Cortisone Cream

Ok, figuring out the culprit is all well and good, but your face is still all swollen, red, and possibly even painful. How do you get it back to normal ASAP?

Get a cortison cream, like Cortaid. It’ll reduce the inflammation and relieve the itching.

4. Don’t Irritate Skin More

Your skin is very delicate now, so treat it with extreme care. If you’re using any powerful ingredients like retinoids, exfoliating acids, benzoyl peroxide, skin-lighteners, or even vitamin C, stop.

These ingredients work wonders on healthy skin, but they can be too harsh for irritated skin. For the same reason, avoid alcohol, fragrance, and anything else that could be irritating. Go back to the basics, and use only the gentlest products you can find.

Also, don’t:

  • Exfoliate (non even with a washcloth!)
  • Rub skin
  • Sweat

These things can be irritating, too, and make your skin worse.

Related: 5 Skincare Treatments That Can Irritate Skin (If Abused)

5. Consult A Doctor

An OTC cortisone cream can help, but it’s not enough. You need to see a doctor for the appropriate treatment, especially if the problem doesn’t go away within six weeks.

In this case, you could have a very severe allergic reaction that requires oral antihistamines (and these can only be prescribed by a doctor), or another condition like psoriasis or eczema.

Point is: don’t auto-diagnose yourself. You may get it wrong and make things worse. Always consult a professional for the best diagnosis and treatment for your problem.

Have you ever had an allergic reaction to a product? Share your experience in the comments below.