The best way to find out if you’re allergic to a cosmetic

Corey’s curious: What’s in Mary Kay’s Timewise line that isn’t in anything else? I recently had a severe allergic reaction to it and I’ve never never had a reaction to anything else in my entire life. I’ve been using Sabon NYC`s Seaweed line, and Lush’s Ocean Salt and never has any problems. What gives?

The Left Brain Responds:

To start with, let’s take a look at the ingredient list for Timewise:

Water, Mineral Oil, Glycerin, Isotheral, Neopentanoate, Bentonite, Cetyl Dimethicone Copolyol, Octyl Pelargonate, Neopentyl, Glycol Dioctanoate, Myristyl Myristate, PPg-26-Buteth-26, Sorbitol, Sucrose, Distearate, Peg-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Oleyl Oleate, Tocopherol, Comfrey Extract, Burdock Extract, Hops Extract, Yarrow Extract, Meadowsweet Extract, Hydrocotyl Extract, Coneflower, Extract, Camellia Sinensis Extract, Retinyl Palmitate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Triethanolamine, Sucrose Stearate, Butylene Glycol, Propylene Glycol, Magnesium Aluminum Silicate, Carbomer, Disodium EDTA, Diazolidinyl Urea, Carnauba Wax, Lactose, Methylparaben, Cellulose, Propylparaben, C9-15 Alkyl Phosphate, Phenoxyethanol, Lauramine Oxide, Hydroxypropyl Methylcellulose, Titanium Dioxide, Ultra-marines, Chromium Hydroxide Green FD&C Red 4, D&C Red 33.

It’s hard to say which of these ingredients is causing you to have a reaction. Normally, I’d say it’s the fragrance since that’s typically the ingredient that people have the most allergic reactions to. But in this case, there doesn’t appear to BE a fragrance. Most of the other ingredients are used in a lot of other products, so it’s unlikely that they’re the culprits. That narrows the list down to the few ingredients that are relatively unusual. For example, you don’t see glycol dioctanoate or octyl pelargonate used that much. Some of the extracts, like Hops, Meadowsweet, and Hydrocotyl aren’t seen all that often either. Then again, it may not be a single ingredient. You could be reacting to a combination of chemicals that are unique to this product. There’s really no way to tell.

The Dermatologists’ Secret Allergen List

So what’s the best way to predict which products will cause an allergic reaction? I suggest you check with your dermatologist about C.A.R.D. CARD, or Contact Allergen Replacement Database, is a list of products that are free from specific allergens. Your doctor can help you use this tool to avoid products that are likely to give you reaction. According to PubMed, this approach has proved to be an invaluable tool for both physicians and their patients in contact allergy counseling. If you’re interested in learning more, check with your dermatologist.

What do you think? Do you have specific ingredients that you know you’re sensitive to? Leave a comment and share your suffering with the rest of the Beauty Brains community.