You May Be Allergic To The Ingredients In These Skin Care Products

There always will be that one skin care product that you were so excited to use and after a few hours has your skin in a bright red rash, burning and breaking out. As a matter of fact, allergies and poor reactions to the ingredients in skin care products are common. Here Haute Beauty experts review the products that they see their patients being allergic to most regularly.

Dr. Tamara Lazic, Hudson Dermatology and Laser Surgery | Skin | New York

I see skin allergies quite commonly in my practice, as that is one of my main areas of expertise in dermatology. I frequently get referrals from my dermatology colleagues to help figure out what a patient may be allergic to. With help of patch (skin allergy) testing, we can figure out the ingredients and products responsible for the allergic reactions. The most common allergens from skincare or haircare products are fragrances and preservatives, fragrances being most common. So, for those who have not had the skin allergy test done by a dermatologist yet, the best recommendation is to switch to fragrance-free products first. This includes botanicals and natural fragrances, such as essential oils.

Another unrelated OTC product that frequently causes allergies is Neosporin. For wounds, it is best to use plain Vaseline. Did you know these interesting facts about reactions to skincare products?

  • Women use, on average, 12 personal care products and 168 ingredients per day on their skin
  • Allergic reactions are generally seen more frequently in women and in patients aged 20–60 years 
  • Adverse reactions to personal care products rose from 5% in 1983 to 10% in a 2011 study

Natalie Hassell, Dr. Samuel Lin | Nose | Boston

True skincare allergies are rare, but sensitivity and irritation are very common. Fragrances are a common culprit in skincare-related allergies and even products with no distinct smell may still contain fragrances. When trying a skincare product for the first time, it is a good idea to patch-test the product in a small spot on the inside of your wrist or arm at least 24 hours before using it on your face. If there is any redness, itching, or irritation at the site of the patch test, it is best to avoid further use of the product.

With certain products such as retinol or retinoids, some sensitivity is a normal part of your skin adjusting to the active ingredients in the product. With these products, it is important to use no more than a pea-sized amount for your entire face. Using more products will not make results more dramatic or occur any more quickly, but it will increase irritation. When starting a retinoid or retinol, you can start by using the product only 2-3 nights a week then gradually add in more nights as your skin adjusts to the product. Using a small amount of bland, non-comedogenic moisturizer with these products may also help to reduce irritation.

Dr. Omar A. Ibrahimi | Skin | Stamford/Greenwich

For skin allergies the #1 product we see patients being allergic to is Neosporin. Many patients like to use this post-skin surgery or after laser resurfacing but 15-20% of patients are allergic to one of the components of Neosporin. Typically we prefer either bland Vaseline, Aquaphor, or prescription topical antibiotics.

Harlan L. South | Anti-Aging | San Francisco

In today's world of beauty and skincare products, we have never had so many different options to choose from. These new products promote a healthier oriented skincare line without a lot of chemicals. Some of the most irritating chemicals include parabens, dyes, sulfates, and fragrances. If any of these ingredients are present in your skincare product, you should consider switching to a more organic-based option. Fragrances can include a whole host of chemicals that do not have to be listed on the product. Parabens also include a long list of preservatives that can irritate the skin easily. Sulfates especially sodium laureth or sodium lauryl sulfates can cause skin irritation as well. When it comes to choosing a skincare product, it is important to review the ingredients along with the prominent source of the product itself. Organic skin care products tend to cause less skin irritation due to the natural source of the ingredients. Thus, a more natural-based approach to skincare products can promote a healthier and more beautiful complexion.