Common Cosmetic Allergens

Common Cosmetic Allergens 

With so many cosmetic products now on the market, it can be difficult to figure out which ingredients are helpful and which work for you. On top of that, if you struggle with sensitive skin or skin allergies, it can be even more difficult to find a product that will actually help and not hurt. Below are common cosmetic allergens identified by the FDA that you may want to avoid. 


If it smells like perfume, you may want to reconsider putting it on your skin. While fragrance can be an enjoyable aspect of a cosmetic product, it can cause negative reactions in those with sensitive skin or skin conditions like psoriasis or eczema. According to, fragrance was labeled as “Allergen of the Year” in 2007 by the American Contact Dermatitis Society (ACDS). 


Preservatives are used to protect against bacteria and are an important part of maintaining the integrity of any product. There are many preservatives that can be used but they usually fall into one of two categories–natural or synthetic. While preservatives are necessary for the safety and longevity of cosmetic products, they are also a leading cause of skin allergies in those with sensitive skin or other skin conditions. If you are one of these individuals, it may be helpful to use products with natural preservatives such as potassium sorbate. 

Colorants or Dyes

Per the FDA, colorants and dyes are a common allergen. These are often colors used in hair dyes but can also be found in certain cosmetic products. Red dyes are often the biggest culprit causing allergic reactions. All colorants used in cosmetics must be approved and regulated per U.S. law ( However, this does not mean that approved colorants cannot cause an allergic reaction in certain individuals. 

While these are common allergens found in cosmetics, it is of importance to know that each individual is different, and how your body reacts to certain products will always be different. What may cause a negative skin reaction in one may not result in any kind of reaction in another. It can be difficult to predict what you personally may have a negative experience with. It is important to always look at the ingredients and identify any that you personally may have a sensitivity to. In addition, it is always important to conduct a “patch test” on your skin with a new product before fully applying it. A “patch test” is when you apply a small bit of product to a small patch of skin. This allows you to monitor for any allergic reaction in a controlled way.

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