What My Skin Hates

I uploaded this photo to Facebook with the comment: "Hey guys! I just got an awesome tattoo. And by awesome, I mean sucky. And by tattoo, I mean allergy testing." I tricked a lot of people.

If you’ve been following my blog for a while you might remember the week I went without make up. I was having an allergic reaction where my eyes would puff up for a few days then chap as they healed, making me look like a zombie or some sort of reptile-lady.

This September I had a HUGE reaction when I came back from the UK. My eyes swelled up for several days. I went to a walk-in clinic , then an allergist, then I was then referred to a dermatologist who would, for $250, do a cosmetic patch test to find out exactly what I was allergic to. I bit the bullet and paid out of pocket as this isn’t covered by Canadian health care.

After two days of having this large patch work of common North American cosmetic ingredients on my back and waiting a week for the results I finally knew what I was allergic to.

I am allergic to: Benzyl Salicyate, Dodecyl Gallate, Phenyl Salicylate and Compositae Mix.

The first three are chemicals mostly used to preserve the life of products the last one is the kicker. It’s a plant family that includes: sunflower, camomile, arnica, chrysanthemums, artichoke, echinacea, marigold and many others.

It turns out that camomile is in nearly every eye cream and sunflower is in nearly every shampoo. Sigh.

My hunt is on for skin care, make-up and hair products that don’t contain any of the ingredients I’m allergic to. Many people have suggested I use “organic” products, which is all fine and dandy except that those products main ingredients are the things I’m the most allergic to.

Thus far I’ve found: Smashbox cosmetics and this shampoo called Free and Clear (online only). 

It’s a relief to finally know what I’m allergic to, but I know this is just the beginning of a difficult journey, aka first world problem. I’ll keep you posted.

If any of you have any tips or know any good products I should use let me know in the comments below. 

4 Replies to “What My Skin Hates”

  1. mike says:

    I know ethicalDeal makes big efforts to find those kind of niche products:
    they’re also ridiculously friendly on twitter. tweet em what you’re looking for and they’ll point you somewhere.

  2. Steve says:

    I’m just relieved to learn that those aren’t nicotine patches. 🙂

  3. Kristy says:

    I happened upon your blog while doing a google search about compositae allergy. I also have it, and I’m feeling completely overwhelmed with trying to find products that don’t contain it (or any of the other substances I’m allergic to). My dermatologist gave me a list of safe products, but it’s VERY short. I want to use more natural products, but most of these aren’t on my list, presumably because the natural products are mostly plant-based. I’m just curious what you’ve found over the past nearly 2 years since you originally made this post.

    • sbynoe says:

      Hey Kristy, I hear you about the ‘natural’ products. Most natural products I’ve been referred to are FULL of compositae plants. For the past two years I’ve stuck with Smashbox for my cosmetics and I haven’t had a reaction. For cleanser I use Cetaphil, which I’ve used most of my life. I moisturize with vitamin E oil (from Trader Joes) and Neutrogena Body Oil (sesame). For shampoo and conditioner I’m using Kevin Murphy even though it has sunflower in it. I’ve only had two reactions in the past year and both occurred when I was traveling. I do travel with my own products so I’m not sure why or how those allergies came about. It could have been something in the air. I’m sticking with ‘simple’ good quality products over ‘natural’ ones and, luckily, this has done the trick. I hope this helps.

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