Makeup Allergy

Table of Contents

Makeup allergies are mostly caused by certain chemicals used to preserve the makeup. The main allergy culprits in makeup are parabens, imidazolidinyl urea, Quaternium-15, DMDM hydantoin, phenoxyethanol, methylchloroisothiazolinone, and formaldehyde. All of these chemicals have been linked to allergies and these allergic reactions are becoming a more common occurrence.

Since people commonly apply cosmetics to the face, this area is the most involved in skin reactions and inflammatory dermatitis. Reactions can be mild or severe.

Makeup Allergy Symptoms

  • Itchy skin
  • Burning skin
  • Dark or red rash
  • Rough, dry skin
  • Swelling

If you have any skin reactions after using a product, throw it away and call your allergist. Some reactions are identical to eczema, a long term skin disorder. This disorder requires ongoing treatment, so it’s important to know whether you are experiencing an allergic reaction or just suffering from eczema.

Diagnosing A Makeup Allergy

For skin reactions, a patch test is most useful. It tests your level of sensitivity for a certain allergen. Your allergist can test you for all the main allergens in makeup to see if your skin flares. After 48 hours, your skin will show whether or not it’s safe to use certain products. If you test positive for most or all of the main allergens in makeup, your allergist may advise you to stop using it or switch to an all natural brand. If you only test positive for one of the chemicals, it’s possible to find a brand that doesn’t contain that ingredient. Make sure you thoroughly research your options.

Makeup Allergy Treatment

Mild reactions will usually resolve without treatment as long as the person avoids the allergen. Reactions that are more serious often respond to antihistamine creams. Over-the-counter hydrocortisone creams can help ease inflammation. In some cases, you’ll need a strong topical steroid to soothe your symptoms. Contact an allergist for additional medication.

If you’re prone to many skin reactions, opt for fragrance free makeup and other cosmetics. Fragrance or perfume allergies are also linked to makeup allergies. Additionally, look for products with less ingredients. These are made with less chemicals that cause allergic reactions.


Makeup allergies can be managed. If you suspect you are allergic to your makeup, contact the allergists at NY Allergy & Sinus Centers. With over 20 years of experience in allergy and immunology, our allergists can answer all of your allergy-related questions. We make it easy and convenient for you to get your allergies diagnosed fast. Call (212) 686-4448 for our offices in Manhattan and (718) 416-0207 for Queens.