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Allergies Health Center

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Skin Reactions to Beauty Products

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Beauty Products to Watch for continued...

Beauty products that have alpha-hydroxy acids can cause problems for some people, like redness, swelling, blisters, and itching -- especially with products that have an AHA level over 10%.

Retin-A wrinkle creams and serums can also cause irritant contact dermatitis in some people.

Many people have "sunscreen sensitivity." For them, almost all sun-protection products can cause a dermatitis-type reaction. If this is the case for you, talk to a dermatologist about how to best protect your skin from the sun.

Treatments for Skin Reactions

The most important thing is to stop using whatever’s causing the reaction right away. This may be enough to fix the problem. Over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream can also help ease inflammation. Don’t apply a hydrocortisone cream to your face without checking with your doctor, because it can cause light spots on your face. In some cases, you'll need prescription-strength creams.

How to Avoid Skin Reactions to Beauty Products

  • Look for products with the fewest ingredients. This will lower your chance of a reaction.
  • Do a patch test before using any product. Place a small amount on the inside of your elbow and wait 48 hours to 72 hours. If you have redness, swelling, itching, or burning, don't use that product.
  • Always apply fragrance to your clothes, not your skin. This can help reduce the risk of reaction to the fragrance. It can also reduce the risk of the fragrance interacting with ingredients in other products and causing a skin reaction.
  • Just because a label says something is "hypoallergenic," "dermatologist tested," "sensitivity tested," or "non-irritating," that's no guarantee that the products will be kind to your skin. Some companies do the testing, others don't. There are no rules about how these terms can be used on a label.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by David T. Derrer, MD on December 05, 2014
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