Allergic Reaction to Your Makeup? Here’s What to Do

Beauty products can help you feel good on the outside, but they can also cause an allergic reaction or irritated skin. Allergies occur when your body’s natural immune system sees a specific substance (allergen) as dangerous to your body. When this happens, it causes an allergic reaction. Allergies come from a variety of sources: food, drugs, mold, insects, pollen, pet, latex, and yes…makeup.

Allergies occur when your body’s natural immune system sees a specific substance (allergen) as dangerous to your body.

The Two Types of Allergic Reaction.

There are two basic types of negative skin reactions to makeup allergies.

Allergic Contact Dermatitis

Allergic contact dermatitis involves your immune system. Symptoms from this type of reaction include hives, itching, swelling, and redness.

Irritant Contact Dermatitis

Another type of reaction is known as irritant contact dermatitis that causes damage to your skin in the area where you used the product. These symptoms include itching, stinging, burning, or even blisters at the site

Allergens can enter your body in many ways.

1. Ingestion
Allergens, such as food or drugs, can be ingested through your mouth.

2. Absorption
Allergens can be absorbed through your skin. This includes, but not limited to, plants, latex, metals, and ingredients in beauty products.

3. Inhalation
Some allergens are small enough to float through the air and enter your body by inhalation. Some examples include dust, pollen, and pet dander.

4. Injection
Certain types of allergens are injected through the skin, including medicines administered through needles.

Is it possible to be allergic to makeup?

We’re all quite aware of the allergies that come in food or seasonal form, but can your makeup be making you sick?

If you love wearing beauty products, it can be a major killjoy when you realize that you’re actually allergic to the great, new product that everyone’s gushing over.

This post is for those of you who suspect you may have a makeup allergy but aren’t sure yet. It’s for those of you who’ve ever wondered if a certain food was the cause of your breakouts. And it’s also for those of you thought your skin irritation was in response to old, expired makeup.

What are the symptoms of an allergy?

Depending on the severity of symptoms, an allergic reaction can be short-term, long-term, and even life-threatening. Allergens can affect your body in several

Skin allergies occur when your skin comes in contact with an allergen that your skin is sensitive to.

One of the most common type of allergies are eye allergies. Makeup powders, pencils eye shadows and mascara are all used very near the eye every day.

Those products and/or Indoor and outdoor allergens can get into your eyes, causing redness, swelling, itchiness, and tearing of the eyes. Lastly, nasal allergies (rhinitis) is literally an inflammation of the nose. With this type of allergy, the allergen can cause a higher or thicker production of mucus. This can lead to an irritation at the back of the throat causing coughing or congestion.

Here are some common allergic reactions:

  • Itchy/Watery Eyes
  • Cough
  • Tongue Swelling
  • Wheezing
  • Itchy/Runny nose
  • Swelling
  • Pain
  • Vomiting
  • Rash/Hives
  • Sneezing
  • Redness
  • Diarrhea

How do you know if you’re allergic to makeup?

Are You Allergic To Makeup? A photograph of an allergic reaction to makeup on the face.

This information is brought to you by

A hypoallergenic color cosmetics brand that specializes in lips, eyes and cheeks.

A makeup allergy can show up in a variety of ways. The most common type of allergic reaction is known as contact dermatitis.

There are two types of contact dermatitis: irritant and allergic. Irritant contact dermatitis is caused by a product that, once applied, directly damages your skin.

Your skin may respond with redness, itchiness or a burning sensation. This is a clear indicator that your skin is not comfortable with the ingredients present in the cosmetics product.

Allergic contact dermatitis can show up as hives, swelling, redness or dry patches on your skin. This, too, is a dead giveaway that something isn’t right in your makeup.

Redness isn’t the only skin coloration to be on the lookout for. Some allergic reactions can create darkened skin and blackheads.

Let’s take a closer look at the main culprits in cosmetics that are responsible for breakouts, redness, irritation, inflammation, dry patches and so much more.

Check out the common allergens that could be hiding in your cosmetics case.

What are the most common culprits of cosmetics allergies?

Synthetic fragrance – The top offender is most definitely synthetic fragrance.

As it turns out, fragrance is not just harmful to your skin, it can also lead to a host of other issues, such as respiratory irritation and damage your reproductive system. Yikes.

Fragrance is one of the most ubiquitous ingredients in cosmetics. From chapsticks to facial cleansers, you’ll find artificial fragrance high up on the ingredients list.

You’ll need to scout for products that explicitly say “fragrance-free.” So-called “unscented” products can still contain a neutralizing fragrance that is used to mask the smell of other chemicals in the products. Even if it seems unscented, it could still trigger an unpleasant reaction.

Preservatives — Preservatives can also trigger allergies.

Many cosmetic products are loaded with preservatives to keep them shelf-safe for months (or even years!) in all manner of inhospitable environments (such as trans-pacific shipping containers and sweltering hot warehouses).

In order to keep their products usable for a long period of time, cosmetics companies turn to preservatives like parabens.

Parabens prevent the growth of bacteria and mold, which sounds good in theory, but researchers have also found a link between this preservative and skin irritation.

Parabens are one of the most widely used preservatives in cosmetics because not everyone has a reaction to them.

This is why you’ll commonly see parabens in foundations, powders, eyeliners, eyeshadows, lipstick, and blushes. They’re even in makeup removers, toothpastes, and sunscreens.

However, if you’re one of the millions who is affected by parabens, you’ll want to avoid any product that contains this unholy preservative.

Low-grade or low quality ingredients — Last but certainly not least on the list of known skin irritants are cheap, low-grade ingredients.

A lot of big-name cosmetic companies simply go for the cheapest ingredients possible.

As long as these ingredients don’t present an issue with the majority of their customer base, these companies will opt for the cheapest (and therefore, lowest quality) products available.

Preservatives can also trigger allergies. Many cosmetic products are loaded with preservatives to keep them shelf-safe for months (or even years!)

The problem with this is that some of their customers will experience an allergic reaction– and it stinks when that person is you.

If You Have An AutoImmune Disorder

If you have an autoimmune disease or a sensitivity to certain chemicals, you’re can never be too careful with what you wear because the slightest imbalance can leave you with irritated skin for days.

But let’s not overlook the glaring fact that, even if you don’t have an intense allergic reaction to these harmful ingredients, it doesn’t redeem them.

These ingredients are still not worthy of putting on your skin, and certainly won’t nourish or protect it.

Does Age Affect Allergic Reactions To Makeup?

This is a fact – you’ll likely confront more and more as you get older.

When you’re younger, your body can more readily fight off foreign invaders, such as the toxic ingredients that found in many cosmetics products.

However, as you age, your body doesn’t want to fight. It simply wants to expel.

This is why you may feel like your skin is becoming more sensitive as you age.

You’ve been blaming a change in the product’s formula, but it’s more than likely a change in the way that your immune system handles foreign threats.

You may be allergic to a product but not see a reaction until hours, weeks or even years later.

How can that be? It’s all about how the immune system responds to the offending foreign agent. Most of the time, you’ll see a negative reaction within hours of application.

However, it’s also possible for the immune system to develop a strong negative reaction to products that you’ve loved for years.

How do you treat an allergic reaction on your face?

Beauty products such as makeup can cause allergic reactions to your face that lead to redness, swelling, and itchiness.

The skin on your face makes it more susceptible to allergic reactions from ingredients in beauty products.

If you have a makeup allergy, there are a few ways to treat the reaction depending on the location, type, and severity of the symptoms. Common treatments include moisturizers, corticosteroids, and antihistamines as listed just below.

The skin on your face makes it more susceptible to allergic reactions from ingredients in beauty products.

How do you treat an allergic reaction to makeup?

Just as any allergic reaction to your face, treatments to your makeup allergy include antihistamines to reduce the redness, itchiness, and swelling.

For a quick relief, you can apply a cold compress to reduce inflammation and relieve itchiness, followed by a chamomile tea compress.

  • For A chamomile cold press, brew chamomile tea and put the brew in the refrigerator until cold. Then use a cloth and dip in the cold tea and hold to irritated skin.

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In addition, corticosteroids can help with breathing difficulties as well as reduce inflammation.

Mild corticosteroids are available online or over the counter. However, oral steroids and stronger creams require a prescription.

Surprisingly, there are quite a few high-end cosmetics companies that still do business as drugstore brands. In a blind test where you simply compare ingredients, you’ll notice that the ingredients found in the luxury brands are identical to those in the drugstore brands. A lot of times, you simply pay for reputation, and not much else.

Specialized moisturizers can help moisturize your skin and reduce the itching caused by the ingredients in your makeup.

Here’s how Red Apple Lipstick is different from those guys:

All of our products are handmade in small batches. Our products simply cannot sit on
the shelf for five years (and counting).

However, most big box cosmetic companies create “unmeltable” products that can be sustained in a hot docking warehouse and your hot car.

For example, big box lipsticks contain phthalates, which are a type of plasticizer.

Phthalates, esters of phthalic acid, have a negative impact on your health. These chemicals are found in everything from cosmetics and fragrances to household cleaners and food packaging.

Researchers have even linked phthalates to such health issues as autism, behavioral issues, obesity, breast cancer, ADHD, and obesity.

Plasticizers are used to keep lipstick soft and not brittle over the course of many years and under brutal conditions.

No wonder these harsh chemicals lead to skin irritation!

Here at Red Apple, we don’t use plasticizers or toxic preservatives. We believe in creating cosmetics that enhance your beauty while nourishing your skin at the same time.

Final Thoughts

It’s a pity that a product, which is designed to enhance your natural beauty, can actually destroy your skin.

From redness to rashes, allergies are no joke and can leave you feeling hopeless.

The good news is that you don’t have to fear what’s lurking in all beauty products. All of our products are free of preservatives, gluten, lead, petroleum and other toxic chemicals.

For allergy-free makeup, check out our store right now.


  1. Oliviah Mothei says:

    Where can i find products as i m in Botswana

  2. Patrick Shields says:

    My wife experience this one we automatically go to the doctor and consult what should we do but before we go to the doctor I put some petroleum at my wife affected area of her face. she uses an expired make-up that’s why it gets irritated. That’s why next time we need to consult the expert and look for the expiration date of your skincare product.

  3. My lipstick swells my lips(yea!!!) but moves to my cheeks. I use to use it a couple years ago. How do I fix so I can still use it?

    1. Ashley Teague says:

      Hi Mercedes,

      Just to check were you using one of our lipsticks or a lipstick from another brand? My first thought would be to see your Dr. or an Allergist to help you determine what it is you’re allergic to. After that, it’ll be much easier to find a product that you can use without having an allergic reaction.

  4. There are not any makeup products on the market without iron oxide is that correct? Because that’s a pigment ……

    1. Ashley Teague says:

      I believe so. Not unless a company were to only used FD&C dyes or Carmine. I believe even most mainstream companies will use Iron Oxide as well though.

  5. I am going to do more patch testing in July. I gave a contact dermatitis on eyelids. Tried 100 percent pure products , but still react. It may be iron oxides? Do your products contain this?

    1. Ashley Teague says:

      Hi Kim, It’s possible. I know some people have reactions to Mica as well. So I usually suggest starting with mattes. Yes, some of our products do contain Iron Oxides. Iron oxide is more likely to be in products that are black, brown, red, yellow and orange. For the ingredients list go to and of course, if you have any questions let us know 😀

  6. I currently have like raccoon eyes, all red @ my eyes. I assumed it was from make up remover tissues. It could be from my make up. I’ve been using Cover Girl a light tone L3.
    I might go see my doctor tomorrow if she can fit me in. I’m 76 now. I read theses things can happen more as we get older.

    1. I know this is a late reply, but I had the same issue and it turned out to be my makeup remover wipes. I let my skin heal up for a few weeks without wearing makeup, switched to micellar water, and I’ve been fine ever since!

    2. Oh wow I have the same raccoon dry eye syndrome. I went to an allergist and he said i have contact dermatitis. I too have been using Cover Girl Light concealer around my eyes. I also thought it could be the eucerin cream i love. It’s day 1 and Ive eliminated everything but coconut oil. I hope this clears up soon. Last time I had this 5 years ago it took a month to heal!

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