Can You Be Allergic to Makeup? Asked the Experts.

You don’t have to be a hardcore beauty junkie to appreciate a good foundation that hides all traces of a sudden breakout or an MLBB lippie with serious staying power. Makeup is, arguably, a girl’s best friend—especially for those days when stress finally catches up with your complexion. But what happens when your go-to cosmetics are actually the ones causing your skin to sting, itch or turn red in all the wrong places?

Recognizing a makeup allergy can be tricky, particularly when you’re also exposed to other potential allergens, use certain active ingredients in your skin care products or have a pre-existing skin condition. To help you figure out if your cosmetic products are causing your newfound rash, I asked top dermatologists and allergists to share their expert tips on how to spot—and deal with—a makeup allergy.

Common Signs of a Makeup Allergy

Some ingredients in skin care products, as well as flare-ups from certain skin conditions, can cause your skin to feel dry or flaky, which can make determining the real problem a bit of a challenge. “Allergies should be differentiated from other reactions such as skin irritation caused by active ingredients like retinoic, lactic and glycolic acid (red, flaking skin without the itch) or acne breakouts that are produced by comedogenic (pore-clogging) ingredients,” says board-certified dermatologist Yoram Harth.

An allergic reaction from makeup, or allergic contact dermatitis, often appears as red, itchy and flaky rashes that can even crack or appear as blisters in the most severe cases (when infected, for example), explains Michigan allergist/immunologist Kathleen Dass. “The rash typically occurs where you have applied the makeup, though it can technically appear anywhere you have had contact with the exposure,” she says. For the majority, this means the eyelids and the delicate skin surrounding the eyes, which is up to five times thinner than the rest of the skin on the face.

In some cases, skin reactions to makeup could take time and require several applications before manifesting. “One of the most important things to know about contact dermatitis, which also makes it the most challenging, is that the reaction does not always appear right away. Sometimes, you can be using the products for weeks, months or even years before you start having symptoms,” Dr. Dass adds.

Who’s Likely to Develop a Makeup Allergy 

Several factors can determine your susceptibility to makeup allergies, including genetics, environment, skin integrity and amount of exposure, says board-certified dermatologist Hal Weitzbuch, medical director at Calabasas Dermatology Center. “The longer we are exposed to certain chemicals, we eventually can pass a threshold of sensitivity and begin exhibiting symptoms of an allergic reaction,” he notes.

Those who already have sensitive skin to begin with, have compromised immune systems or are dealing with asthma, seasonal allergies and other inflammatory skin conditions are particularly vulnerable. “People with a history of eczema are more likely to develop skin allergies and this may be due, in part, to the less robust nature of their skin barrier. So ingredients can penetrate into the skin and be more sensitizing,” explains New York City board-certified dermatologist Hadley King.

What Type of Ingredients to Avoid

A number of ingredients found in makeup can cause allergic contact dermatitis, but the most common culprit is fragrance, says Dr. Harth. Present in nearly all types of beauty and skin care products, fragrances often contain a cocktail of harsh chemicals—including alcohol, phthalates and styrene—that can trigger headaches, nausea and skin irritations. “Some of these fragrances can also cause increased sensitivity to the sun, also known as photodermatitis,” Dr. Harth adds.

Board-certified dermatologist Tsippora Shainhouse echoes this and adds preservatives (such as formaldehyde, parabens and DMDM hydantoin), coloring agents, rubbers (found in mascara and latex sponge tips used to apply makeup) and hair dyes to the list. But while synthetic chemicals are often to blame for what’s causing your skin to react to makeup, natural ingredients have also been linked to allergic contact dermatitis—especially for those who have extremely sensitive skin. “Tea tree is a common skin irritant, while willow bark can be drying and irritating to the skin. Essential oils (like lavender, oregano, sandalwood and vanilla, to name a few) can also be skin allergens, as can other natural ingredients like honey and coconut-derived products,” adds Dr. Shainhouse.

Aside from these, Dr. Dass also lists the following ingredients found in makeup as common causes of skin irritations and allergies:

  • Lanolin or Wool Alcohols: Used as an emollient and lubricant, often found in foundations, eye shadows, blushes, mascaras, eyeliners, moisturizers, face masks, lipsticks and lip balms.
  • Nickel: A common contaminant found in pigments that are used in eye shadows, hair dyes, costume jewelry and antiperspirants.
  • Methylisothiazolinone (MIT) and Methylchloroisothiazolinone (MCT): Antibacterial and anti-fungal preservatives found in mascara, makeup remover, liquid soaps, cleansers and other personal care products.
  • Balsam of Peru: A fragrant resin, with a scent similar to that of vanilla and cinnamon, typically added to essential oils, hair products, baby powders and sunscreens.

How to Treat a Makeup Allergy 

Treating an allergic reaction from cosmetics depends on the severity of the situation, says New York City esthetician and model Sydney Blankenship. To quickly calm any redness or itching, she suggests treating the area with a cool compress before applying topical creams like hydrocortisone or calamine lotion. “Finally, over-the-counter oral antihistamines may be used to reduce inflammation,” adds Blankenship. For severe reactions, or when the irritation involves swelling in your eyelids, tongue, lips or mouth and difficulty in breathing or speaking, Dr. Weitzbuch says it’s best to call 911 or head to the emergency room as this can compromise breathing.

Fortunately, most people will only experience mild irritations that “will usually resolve itself once you have stopped using the product,” says New York City board-certified dermatologist Debra Jaliman, assistant professor of dermatology at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Still, this doesn’t mean you can continue exposing your skin to the same product or ingredient as long as you stop at the first sign of trouble. “Chronic irritation and skin inflammation can lead to skin redness, discoloration, thickening and/or collagen breakdown, which can then lead to premature skin aging and wrinkling,” explains Dr. Shainhouse.

When to See a Doctor

As a general rule, Blankenship says, “It’s best to see a dermatologist for a second look when any kind of irritation does not go away with over-the-counter products after a few days. Whenever you notice your skin having significant changes, it’s best to consult with a skin care medical professional.” It’s even more important if your skin starts to peel or blister as lesions can easily get infected by bacteria. During your visit, your dermatologist can evaluate the rash and prescribe a stronger corticosteroid cream, if necessary, explains Dr. King. “Then, he or she can perform a patch test to help elucidate exactly which ingredient or ingredients you are reacting to,” she adds.

Similarly, you can set an appointment with an allergist who will then perform a patch test on your back using small chambers that contain common allergens, says Dr. Dass. “An allergist can also apply a specific makeup product you are suspicious of. After 48 hours, the patches will be removed, but your allergist may ask you to return in 72 or 96 hours for a second or third reading. These are delayed reactions we are looking for, which is why you would need to return,” she adds. Aside from topical or oral corticosteroids, your doctor may also recommend barrier creams and moisturizing lotions to soothe and protect the area. “If your skin has become infected, you may even require an antibiotic,” adds Dr. Dass.

What Type of Products or Formulas to Use

Regardless of what product or formula you pick, Dr. King says it’s important to do your own research and testing before using any new makeup product. “Place a small amount of the product on the inside of your elbow and wait 48 to 72 hours. If you experience redness, swelling, itching or burning, do not use that product,” she warns. Once you’ve identified the type of formulas or ingredients that are causing your skin to react to makeup, it’s best to stick to products that are labeled paraben-, phthalate- and fragrance-free, sensitivity-tested or hypoallergenic. Keep in mind, this doesn’t always guarantee that your skin will not experience any reaction, says Dr. King. The safest way to avoid developing allergic contact dermatitis, she says, is to look for products with the fewest ingredients.

One way you can make sure your blush and eyeshadows don’t work against you is to opt for mineral makeup and cosmeceuticals as these typically have cleaner and gentler formulations, aside from the added skin care benefits. Look for clinically proven and dermatologist-tested formulas that are also free of known natural or plant allergens. Lastly, Dr. Jaliman reminds, “Expensive doesn’t always mean better. The most important thing to do is to check the list of ingredients on labels and become informed about certain ingredients and what they do.”

Stop Neglecting Your Tongue! It’s More Important Than You Think…

Dental health is seriously trending right now; from Kendall’s whitening Moon pen to pretty much every influencer’s fave teeth whitening gadget. But as intrigued as we are with the latest advancements in oral health; it’s the ancient practice of tongue scraping that I am currently obsessing over. It’s super simple, it’s basically free, and it has tons of health benefits.

What is tongue scraping?

Ok, so I realize it sounds kinda gross but Dr. Ghalili explains “Tongue scraping is the method to remove the remainder of the food, possible bacteria, and dead cells from the surface of the tongue and therefore out of the body.” Dr. Garcia adds, “Tongue scraping is nothing new and has been a part of Ayurvedic practice since ancient times. A scraper is designed to fit the anatomy of the tongue and scrape off bacteria and flora on the tongue that can produce volatile sulfur compounds.”

Why you need to start scraping… like NOW

Dental benefits: Dr. Garcia outlines the benefits of tongue scraping; “Tongue scraping can clear up bad breath and help to prevent an incidence of periodontal disease [gum disease].” Dr. Ghalili agrees, saying tongue scraping helps “To remove bacteria and toxins and this prevents them from getting reabsorbed into the body. This improves problems with bad breath and improves overall health.”

Other health benefits: But the benefits don’t stop at helping with bad breath, it’ll help remove toxins from your body, increasing your bodies immunity, and improving your health in general. Plus, don’t forget fewer toxins in your body = better skin. Dr. Ghalili explains how it works, “When bacteria and other possible pathogens remain on the tongue and get reabsorbed by the bloodstream, it can cause serious health issues all throughout the body.” Plus, Dr. Garcia notes that it’s the perfect practice to get into whenever you’re feeling under the weather, “Since bacteria lingers on the tongue, it’s especially beneficial to do regular tongue scraping when you’re sick with a cold or infection.” Oh, and last but not least, it’ll enhance your taste buds as there’s less mucus on your tongue – err, yes, please!

How to use a tongue scraper

The tools: Dr. Garcia recommends, “The tongue scrapers made from copper, tin or brass [which you can buy on Amazon, $8, here]. Using an ergonomic one only designed for tongue scraping is much more effective than using a toothbrush.” Whereas Dr. Ghalili keeps it simple, suggesting “A toothbrush or a tongue scraper. Both are effective. If you use a toothbrush, it is easier to use without toothpaste.”

The technique: With firm yet gentle movements, scrape the surface of your tongue with singular, long strokes using your tongue scraping tool, then rinse your tool in water. Repeat this five to ten times. Follow with mouthwash, flossing, and then brush your teeth as usual.

Let me know if you guys use a tongue scraper in the comments below.

Everything You Need to Know Before Trying a Cannabis (CBD Oil)-Infused Beauty Product

Hello Beauties,

I received another interesting email from a blogger who wanted to collaborate with me. I spoke to Kim, the Content Team of Sunday Scaries. They write articles that mainly focus on relieving anxiety and stress through various strategies including the use of CBD. Sunday Scaries also cover various applications of CBD in heart health, skin conditions, diabetes prevention, and among other exciting yet educational topics.

We are living in the marijuanaissance. Thanks to CBD, cannabis is getting its glow-up, trading in the stoner image for a new one as a luxury wellness and beauty ingredient. Loosening of cannabis laws and the enthusiasm around emerging science has legitimized the medicinal claims surrounding CBD, but it’s the boutiquification of cannabis that has made everyone want to be seen with it.

Ask any wellness or beauty aficionado, and they’ll all agree: CBD oil is having a moment. But, unlike other super beauty ingredients making a splash in skin and hair care, there is a lot of controversy surrounding the cannabis-derived ingredient. Nonetheless, its beauty benefits and promising future in beauty are hard to ignore.

I tapped three experts to find out the beauty benefits of CBD oil, plus everything you need to know before trying the popular beauty trend. See what they had to say, below.

What Is CBD Oil and How Does It Work

The cannabis plant boasts a variety of compounds—also known as cannabinoids—believed to contain medicinal benefits. Among these cannabinoids is cannabidiol, or CBD. “Oils that are pulled [from] the plant that contains a high concentration of CBD are known as CBD oils,” says Dr. Alissia Zenhausern, NMD.

In order to understand how CBD oils work, it’s important to know what cannabinoids are and what they do. Cannabinoids are chemical messengers that activate a class of cell membrane receptors located throughout the body. These body receptors are part of the endocannabinoid system, which is involved in a variety of physiological processes including appetite, pain-sensation, sleep, mood and memory. Cannabinoids are either naturally produced by the body (endogenous) or outside the body (exogenous). The cannabinoids found in marijuana and hemp, such as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and CBD, are considered exogenous, which, when consumed, also interact with cannabinoid receptors in the body and can generate similar physical and psychological effects.

There are currently two known subtypes of cannabinoid receptors in the body, CB1 and CB2. The CB1 receptor is expressed mainly in the brain, lungs, liver and kidneys. The CB2receptor is expressed mainly in the immune system and in hematopoietic cells. Before the CBD beauty trend took off, Dr. Zenhausern says CBD-infused drugs were most commonly used for pain management and inflammatory conditions, as “CB2 receptors are most commonly found as part of the immune system [and they can] affect inflammation and pain.

Now, it is important to note that CBD will not produce the same euphoric sensations as THC, which means using CBD won’t make you feel “high.” “The way cannabinoids work is by attaching to CB1 and CB2 body receptors. However, new research has found that CBD doesn’t seem to attach to either receptor directly and [might] help your body use its own cannabinoids,” she adds.

The Beauty Benefits of CBD Oil

Although some CBD enthusiasts experiment with adding the oil into homemade beauty tinctures, the CBD beauty trend mostly refers to products formulated with the cannabinoid. Similar to other natural beauty–benefiting ingredients—such as spirulina, which can be ingested on its own or used topically in a beauty product—the oil is the ingredient, and the beauty product is the delivery system that helps provide the skin with the beauty benefits of CBD.

Speaking of beauty benefits, CBD is chock-full of them. So much so that some dermatologists—including board-certified dermatologist, Dr. Debra Jaliman—recommend the use of CBD oil for hair and skin. “It’s rich in vitamins A, C and E,” says Dr. Jaliman. “Vitamin A stimulates the cells responsible for producing the tissue that keeps skin firm and healthy; vitamin C stimulates collagen production, and it helps to reduce signs of aging; [and] vitamin E blocks free radicals from the body [which] helps slow down the aging process,” she continues.

On top of the benefits of CBD on aging skin, it can also benefit breakout-prone complexions. “Because acne is an inflammatory condition related to overworked sebaceous-gland production, promising new research states that CBD can help reduce the production of sebum, which means CBD could become a future treatment for acne, particularly acne vulgaris, the most common form of acne associated with overproduction of sebum,” says Dr. Zenhausern.

CBD beauty products might also help other inflammatory-related conditions such as skin allergies, rosacea, eczema and psoriasis. “The anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties of CBD naturally help improve irritating skin conditions including rosacea, eczema and psoriasis,” Julie Winter, COO and founding partner of CBD For Life, explains.

Skin isn’t the only thing that benefits from CBD—hair can, too! Because it’s rich in fatty and amino acids, it may be beneficial to your hair and nails, too. “CBD and hemp oil stimulate and enhance the growth of hair through the scalp’s absorption of the main fatty acids [found in CBD and hemp], omega-3, omega-6 and omega-9,” says Winter.

Potential Side Effects of CBD Oil

The good news? Unlike THC, initial studies around CBD pose little to no sign of side effects to those who ingest it. “Many small studies have looked at the safety of CBD in adults,” explains Dr. Zenhausern. “Of the studies done, researchers found that most adults well-tolerated CBD even at a wide range of doses. They found no significant side effects on the central nervous system. The most common side effects cited include fatigue, diarrhea and changes in appetite or weight.”

As for skin care, Dr. Jaliman says, “No studies have shown it to cause irritation or to aggravate sensitive skin. Research has shown CBD [beauty products are] safe to use with no unwanted side effects.”

Still, Dr. Zenhausern advises to be cautious when trying the CBD beauty trend—especially if using the straight oil versus a beauty product formulated with it. “Each CBD oil contains a different concentration of CBD, so it is very important to read the label and understand what it means,” she says.

Aside from minding the concentration, it’s also important to be aware of the legal issues surrounding the ingredient. “In the United States, each state has different laws when it comes to the use of CBD as well as medical marijuana,” says Dr. Zenhausern. “Anyone considering CBD oil should speak with their local healthcare provider for more information about the laws in their unique state as well as high-quality sources for safe CBD,” she concludes.

How to Use CBD Oil for Best Results

If the beauty benefits of CBD excite you, there are a few ways you can include the super beauty ingredient into your regimen. One of the first, most important tips for using CBD in beauty is to do your research. “Research the CBD products you are interested in purchasing and make sure the products do not contain THC,” says Winter. “CBD is not FDA-regulated so consumers should be on the lookout for companies that are transparent with their test results,” she adds.

Another important thing to consider is the results. As with all beauty products, the types of results you wish to see should dictate the way you apply or use CBD in your regimen. “Consumers can ingest CBD oil in products like tinctures for fast-acting results since it travels directly into the bloodstream. But, applying CBD topically is the most effective for targeting specific areas of the body like muscle aches and pains,” explains Winter.

As promising as CBD sounds, it’s no secret that this beauty ingredient is still pretty new and highly controversial, so my advice? As with any trendy, expert-approved beauty ingredient, it’s always wise to consult your dermatologist before adding CBD beauty products to your regimen.

Want more info?! Check out CBD Oil Benefits for Skin: What the Beauty Industry Says about It on !


It’s time we put our burgundy polishes to rest (even though it was fun while it lasted) and start prepping our nails for summer. Summer is the perfect time to experiment with bright, poppy shades so I’ve rounded up some essentials to whip your nails into shape. So, before you splurge on the newest Essie collections, make sure your nail beds are ready for their close-up.


Happy cuticles make for happy nails. If you’re one to pick at or bite around your nails, keep a bottle of cuticle oil on your desk as a daily reminder to apply. Dab a little bit on each finger and gently massage it into your nail bed and around the cuticle area for a shot of moisture. Adopting this good habit will help take your nails from sad and dry to shiny and healthy. For easy travel and application, use Essie Apricot Cuticle Oil, which contains skin-conditioning oils that protects your cuticles.


I have strong, long and healthy nails but not everyone was born with long and strong nails beds. If your nails are constantly breaking, bending or chipping, add a nail strengthener like Essie Grow Stronger to your daily routine or try Essie Millionails every other day. Think of it as vitamins for your nails!


To smooth away any ridges and prevent your nails from snagging and tearing, buff or file the edges at the first sight of chipping so that the damage doesn’t get worse! I love the Tweezerman Neon Hot 4-in-1 File, Buff, Smooth & Shine Block, perfect for giving nails a high shine finish.


To keep your hands and nails healthy and moisturized, apply a thick layer of heavy-duty hand cream like Kiehl’s Ultimate Strength Hand Salve or the Intensive Treatment and Moisturizer for Dry or Callused Areas before bed. It may sound silly, but wearing gloves overnight will help the cream penetrate your skin, and smoother hands means less peeling and cracking around your nail beds.