When you think of food allergies, you would likely think of the inability to eat certain foods, right? But anyone with a food allergy knows that there are so many items that you have to be careful of, and one of those things are beauty products. Soap, makeup, shampoo, face masks, lotion; yeah, we have to be careful of it all. But don’t worry! That’s why I’m here to tell you how you can be careful when dealing with beauty products with a food allergy.
What to know
Before we start, let’s review why it’s important to be cautious with the cosmetic products that you buy.
The same labeling standards used for labeling food are not all applicable to beauty products. The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) does not require beauty products to label possible cross-contamination in their products. These statements may include things like “may contain…”, “processed in a facility that may contain…”, “cross-contaminated with…”, and so on.
Beauty products are also not required to clearly state that the product contains an allergen. For example, on a food label, there is usually (if not always) a “Contains: …” at the bottom of every ingredients label. Beauty products are not required to do this. For example, a product may have almond oil in it, but it usually does not have a “Contains” statement at the bottom.
The FDA is also not responsible for making sure that cosmetic companies label their items properly, which could easily end up with an ingredient being left off the list by mistake.
1. Always read the ingredients label
I can not stress this enough. Whenever you come across food, beauty products, or anything else that has an ingredients label, READ IT.
I have found the most ridiculous things that were processed with my allergen. I’m not kidding; I have found food coloring that was processed with tree nuts and peanuts! Several times I have also come home with something that I realized later had my allergen, and that wasted money. Moral of the story: read the ingredients labels!
Many allergens are hidden in products by names that aren’t as common. For example, shea butter is actually a tree nut, which I did not know until years after I was diagnosed with a nut allergy. Peanut oil is also sometimes referred to as arachis oil. I recommend looking up any ingredient names that you think may be related to your allergen.
2. Test the product on your arm
This depends on how severe your allergy is. Since I will not go into anaphylactic shock from direct contact with my allergen, this is something I do to stay safe. However, everyone’s allergies are different, so consult with your doctor or allergist about this.
This is something that is difficult to do with some cosmetic products, but test the product on your arm before you use it.
If you test a little bit of a product on your arm before truly using it and you have an allergic reaction, you will a.) not have the allergic reaction all over you, and b.) you will likely have a milder reaction then if you used a normal amount of the product. This is especially important for products that you use on your lips, such as lip gloss or chapstick, as those could be easily ingested and cause a worse reaction than if it just had contact with your skin.
3. What to do if you have a reaction
Stop using the product immediately. If your reaction is mild, such a one hive or a small rash, I would recommend taking Benadryl. If your reaction is severe, also known as anaphylaxis, use your Epi-Pen and call 911 immediately. If you are ever in doubt on if you should use the Epi-Pen, use it. *Note: I am not a doctor. Please ask your doctor what you should do in an allergic reaction, and ask them any questions that you may have. If you are under 18, please ask your parent or guardian what you should do if you ever have an allergic reaction.
By now you should realize that when the right precautions are taken, dealing with beauty products aren’t as scary as you thought! So go ahead and experiment with your allergen-free makeup, skincare, and other beauty products. Do you have a favorite allergen-free beauty product? Let me know in the comments below.
*Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. None of nallergy’s content is intended to be substituted for medical or professional advice. Please consult with your doctor, allergist or other professional if you have questions. Nallergy is not liable for any information you do or do not take, and anything that may result from taking or not taking said advice. To read our full disclaimer policy, click here.*