Eye makeup such as mascara helps in improving appearance of the eyelashes and enhancing the eyes; however, it can also irritate them. Different ingredients are present in various kinds of mascara and it depends on the product and the manufacturer. In case you have allergy to any of the ingredient present in the mascara, you may develop an allergic reaction either in the eyes or on the surrounding skin area.

What Causes Allergic Reaction to Mascara?

When your body mistakenly considers a substance you are being exposed to as a threat, then an allergic reaction happens. In some persons, allergies may occur due to air borne substances such as pollen, pet dander, and dust mites, whereas other persons may develop allergies to solutions, which touch their mucous membranes or skin. Cosmetics such as mascara may result in allergic reactions in persons who are sensitive to any of the substances present in the mascara.


Conjunctivitis and contact dermatitis may occur due to mascara. Contact dermatitis is an allergic reaction, which occurs when allergens or substances that result in allergic reactions get in contact with skin surrounding your eyes. Conjunctivitis is the irritation of the conjunctiva (the moist, thin membrane, which covers the eyeball surface), which occurs when the allergens from the mascara flake off and fall in the eye.


Various ingredients present in mascara may result in allergic reaction to mascara. Some of the common allergens that mascara contains are paraben esters. These are the preservatives that are commonly used in pharmaceuticals. A mixture of 5 paraben esters referred to as paraben mix is often present in cosmetics such as mascara. Kohl is also present in imported mascaras. According to studies, Kohl is a type of color additive that has been associated with lead poisoning in kids.

What Are the Symptoms of Mascara Allergy?

The allergic reaction begins within minutes or few hours of applying mascara. Conjunctivitis and contact dermatitis are the two main symptoms due to mascara allergy.

Signs range from severe to mild. Mild include watery eyes, and inflamed and pink eyes. Skin begins to itch and it becomes dry. Small blisters or bumps may start appearing on the skin.

Some other symptoms of mascara allergy are:

  • Rash on skin

  • Swelling of cheeks and eyebrows

  • Dermatitis

  • Allergic conjunctivitis

  • Redness of eyes

  • Watery eyes

  • Itching in the eyes

  • Itching around the eyes

  • Sensitivity to light (of eyes)

  • Burning sensation in and around eyes

Treatment for Allergic Reaction to Mascara

If you notice signs and symptoms of an allergic reaction, carefully wash the eye makeup. Avoid scrubbing as this may result in further irritation of the eyes. You must visit your physician to discuss your symptoms and determine whether you need medicine to relieve your symptoms.

You may be recommended oral medicines or eye drops by your physician to relieve inflammation. Your physician may also give you a topical ointment to apply to the skin rash. However, if your skin rash is too close to the eyes, a topical ointment or cream may not be recommended. Instead, you may be advised to avoid cosmetics and allow the skin rash to get better by itself.

Common Beauty Products That May Cause Allergy and How to Avoid Them


Beauty Products That You Should Keep a Watch On

Beauty products that may result in skin reactions or allergy are detergents, bath soaps, eye makeup, antiperspirants, moisturizers, nail polish (particularly those that contain formaldehyde), lip stains (long wearing) and fingernail glue that contains methacrylate.

Skin reactions may also be caused by hair dyes particularly those that contain ammonium persulfate and p-phenylenediamine utilized to lighten color of hair.

Beauty products containing alpha-hydroxy acids may lead to problems such as redness, blisters, swelling and itching in certain individuals, particularly products, which have level of AHA greater than 10%.

Wrinkle serums and creams that contain Retin-A may also result in irritant contact dermatitis in certain individuals.

Many persons have sensitivity to sunscreen. In them, almost all products used for sun protection may cause a reaction similar to dermatitis. In case you have sensitivity to sunscreen, discuss with a dermatologist regarding which product to use for sun protection.


How to Avoid Allergic Reactions on Skin to Beauty Products

After discussing allergic reaction to mascara, let’s discuss how you can avoid allergic reactions to different other beauty products.

  • Choose products that have fewest ingredients. This reduces your chances of getting an allergic reaction.

  • Perform a patch test on a small area of skin before you use any new beauty product. Put a small quantity of the product on inside of the elbow. Wait for 2-3 days. In case you develop redness, itching, swelling, or burning, avoid using that beauty product.

  • Always put fragrances on your clothes and not on your skin. This helps in reducing the risk of developing an allergic reaction to a fragrance. It also decreases the risk of interaction of fragrance with substances present in other beauty products and producing an allergic reaction.

  • Even if it is written on the label that the product is “hypoallergenic”, “sensitivity tested”, “non-irritating” or “dermatologist-tested”, there is no guarantee of the product producing no allergic reaction on your skin. Testing is done by some companies and not done by some. There exist no rules as to the usage of these terms on a label of a beauty product.


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