In a recent post, I referenced a red dye allergy. It was too off-topic to discuss at any length, so I decided to save the thought for another post. Allergic reactions to beauty products can often be allergies to only one ingredient in an otherwise non-irritating formula. That's why it's important to know your allergies and read labels.
About 30 years ago, I had a favorite eye shadow made by one of the largest cosmetics companies in the world. I loved it so much - and it looked so good on me - that I wore it almost every day. It was a taupe color. After a year (maybe longer), my eyelids started to peel. They were red, itchy, and extremely irritated. I visited my dermatologist. We talked about every product that came in contact with my eyelids, including soaps and shampoos, and he told me I needed to be patch tested to identify the offending item. So, I hauled them all to his office. The nurse put each on my back and covered it, drawing a product map as she did. I was sure it couldn't have been my eye shadow; I had been wearing it for a long time. Little did I know!
After several annoying days of keeping my back dry, I went in for the results. By now, I'm sure you have realized that it was my eye shadow - my beloved taupe eye shadow. While they couldn't pinpoint the exact ingredient in it, they had patch tested another shadow by the same company, and there was no reaction. I had to give up my favorite eye shadow! When I did, my eyelids returned to normal.
My doctor explained that one can develop allergies over time; we don't necessarily have them on the first use of a product. It makes sense, although it was no consolation at the time that I had to find a new, favorite shadow. Years after that, I was telling a sales associate who had been with that company for a long time about my experience. I didn't even name the shadow. She did! Apparently, there was a red dye in it that caused problems for a lot of women, and the company had discontinued it.
Women have allergic reactions to cosmetics and skin-care products more often than we know. Some are minor and go unrecognized. Others are immediate and easy to identify because only one new product has been introduced to the skin. Many, like mine, are not as easy to diagnose. Even a patch test won't pinpoint the specific ingredient in a product that is causing the allergic reaction.
What can we do? Stop using your prime suspects - even if you have used them for a long time. A prime suspect should be the product that comes in direct contact with the irritated skin most often. At the time, I didn't know enough to realize it had to be my eye shadow. Had it been my facial cleanser, my whole face would have been a red, itchy mess - not just my eyelids.
Once you figure out what's causing your own reaction(s), find out what's in the offending product. Read labels! Sometimes, you can figure it out yourself. According to Clinique, fragrance causes more allergic reactions than any other ingredient in cosmetics. There are other common allergens in our beauty products. In my case, it's a red dye. I wish I knew which one!
A few weeks ago, I was testing a gorgeous taupe shadow duo I had bought at Target. It was made by a well-known and respected company. Once sensitized, you are likely to react quickly to an ingredient that causes a reaction. You can guess what happened. My eyelids were burning within 20 minutes of application. As soon as I could get to a restroom, I washed off my lovely new shadow. The next day, I gave it away to a friend who is happily wearing it.
I can't offer you medical advice, but I can suggest that you should see a dermatologist for any severe reaction on your skin! Over the years, I have learned my irritation/allergy triggers (but that won't stop me from looking for taupe nirvana). What about you?