Cosmetic Allergies

Allergies and adverse reactions come in all forms and sometimes it’s not ingesting an allergen that is the concern, at least for this Allergic Girl.

Allergies or averse reactions upon contact can also be an issue. I’ve mentioned that I’m allergic to Ivory soap, it gives my palms hives. And beard stubble gives me hives. I know, crazy. A few weeks ago I had an adverse reaction to the acne preparation Retin A and I wrote about it at But that’s also happened with other acne washes that I had to stop using immediately because I became itchy all over for days after just two or three applications. No good! At the hair salon, after using some types of shampoos my head gets itchy and they have rinse it out a few times and start over, if they can. (Speaking of which I just bought my shampoo at the hair salon and they changed the formulation, adding some kind of nut protein AND it now is so overly perfumed that even if it didn’t have the nuts I couldn’t use it. Sigh.)

Sometimes an adverse reaction can be a headache or even worse a migraine. Luckily this is not my thing but I know a few friends for whom perfume is their Kyrptonite. For example, at dinner the other night H. pulled out some hand cream to slather on her hands before we headed back outside. It’s been very cold here and hands and faces, anything exposed really, needs some extra protection.

So just before H. began the slathering, M. said, “Please don’t! I am really sensitive to perfumes”.

H. knew this and said, “Let me check if this stuff is smelly”. It was a sample from a hotel, which was, of course, extra smelly so she very kindly put it away and did not use it.

It’s not always so easy for M. I’ve been with her at theater where for some reason a woman has decided to douse herself in a strong perfume that frankly causes the whole row to swoon. At theater there’s no escape although M. has cleverly changed seats to be as far away from the perfumed masses as possible. But sometimes you are just stuck, like on a crowded flight or completely sold out show. These dear friends have to sit there and suffer, headachy , nauseous, woozy and stuck.

Do any of you have experiences like this? How have you dealt with them?


We heart smart said…
Though I'm okay with fragrance, I react to make up- which is always counter productive. I'd like to make myself look pretty, not red and blotchy.

I agree about Cassandra's Dream; it is definitely a rental, if that.
Allergic Girl® said…
of course. most women i know have issues with make-up. eye shadow making them tear, blotches when using foundation, burning eyes with mascara.

for years i didn't wear make up. as it feel like my eyes are always running anyway, make-up would be washed away.

but almay and clinque were my go to and even then sometimes i would still react.

have you found any brands that work for you zorianna?
We heart smart said…
I too am a clinique buyer who still reacts.
Linilla said…
I gave up on makeup a long time ago... sometimes the reactions were delayed, and sometimes they lasted a long time.

Many fragrances cause me breathing discomfort. I try to sit apart from people. Have pretty much given up going to church because I would cough uncontrollably from the perfume smells and hairspray fumes.
Naomi Devlin said…
Have you thought about seeing someone alternative about your acne? As you have a hyper reactive constitution, the less you put on and into your body the better, surely?

A homeopath could work simultaneously on your tendency to allergic reaction and your skin problems, both hives and spots. I'm not saying it's possible to cure you, but homeopathy does have a great track record with allergies and skin.

Glad your hives calmed down - there's nothing more frustrating than itchy skin!

babysteps said…
always fragrance has given me headaches
also kills my palate when doing wine
my pet peeve - fragranced hand soap at restaurants

makeup makes me turn orange (same thing happened yrs ago when fragrance went from #10 to #9 in my eye cream ingredient list) - now I'm ALL fragrance free, including shampoo (which is not easy to find - I order online)

There's a huge thread on with many singing the praises of a mineral makeup brand that seems to work

spouse says he doesn't like make-up, so that's my out (so far, ask me again when I'm 50)
Allergic Girl® said…
perfume update: Minn. Lawmaker Wants Scent-Free Schools

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