Cosmetic Allergy – Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

Cosmetics are generally products or substances that you apply on your skin. They include moisturizers, hair conditioners, nail polish, perfumes, emulsifiers and pigments among others. Different cosmetics contain different ingredients including inert materials, botanical substances, and essential oils among others. Widely used across the world, the cosmetic industry is a multi-billion industry. Indeed it is estimated that the industry has surpassed the $60 mark recorded in 2014.

On the other hand, allergy is the response of your body’s immune system. The response presents itself in the form of reaction to a substance or substances contained in a cosmetic product you apply on your skin.


Cosmetic allergy presents itself in different ways. Although the allergy can occur on any part of your skin where you apply a cosmetic product, it is on your facial skin that remains highly susceptible to most cosmetic allergic reactions.

Symptoms include the development of irritation on the skin where a cosmetic product has been applied, development of rashes that can appear as small whitish or reddish bumps that can be scaly. Unlike other types of allergy, cosmetic allergy remains confined to the area of skin where you have applied a cosmetic substance. Serious allergy can present itself as inflammatory dermatitis.


Although very common, recorded cases of cosmetic allergy are very minimal. This is largely because most people (women) rarely report such incidents. Most cases do end up with a complaint to an outlet or a simple switch to a different cosmetic product.

There is no certain cause or causes of cosmetic allergy. There are only factors that contribute to the occurrence of this type of allergy. One such factor is sensitive skin. Having sensitive skin exposes you to a serious cosmetic allergy to a point where you may not find a cosmetic product that you can use safely.

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You may also experience cosmetic allergy even though you do not have sensitive skin. This is most likely to happen in case you choose a cosmetic product with high concentration of specific ingredients. Similarly, a cosmetic product may contain an ingredient that is generally not safe and your immune system is bound to react to the same, leading to an allergic reaction on your skin.

An abrupt change from your regular cosmetic product to another can also cause cosmetic allergy. This occurs simply because your skin is already used to specific ingredients and using a different product with an added ingredient easily causes some level of reaction in the form of allergy.


Cosmetic allergy can be mild or severe. Whichever the cases, treating any form of cosmetic allergy is not all that involving. Mild allergy normally clears on its own as your body gets used to a cosmetic product. You can easily treat severe cosmetic allergy by using 1% hydrocortisone cream or ointment, which you can buy without any prescription. It is only in extreme cases where it may be necessary to consult a physician who is able to prescribe a strong topical steroid.

Although very easy to treat, you need to take cosmetic allergy seriously. This is because the resultant reaction can leave permanent marks on areas of your skin. This makes it necessary to take precautions when shopping for any cosmetic product. You particularly need to read a product’s label so as to know what ingredients a product contains and whether they are safe or not. Although not scientifically tested, you have the option of buying either hypoallergenic or organic cosmetic products. This particularly applies just in case you have sensitive skin.

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