Cosmetics & Allergies

The number of people suffering from allergies has grown steadily over the last decades. Around 13 million Germans suffer from allergies – with rising tendency. Allergies are e.g. reactions of the skin (contact eczema) or the airway (e.g. hay fever). With allergic reactions of the skin, symptoms such as rashes, swellings and itching occur. They are caused, among other things, by textile components, medicines or chemicals. Every substance, which is present in the environment, can theoretically cause a contact allergy.

Most common allergies are:

  • Metals (for example nickel in jewellery)
  • Fragrances (in perfume, soaps, cosmetics)
  • Preservatives
  • Plants (e.g. chamomile, mugwort, arnica)
  • Essential oils (for example citron – and peppermint oil)
  • Detergents (e.g. softening agents)
  • Latex (e.g. latex gloves)

Allergic reactions

Allergic reactions are excessive defence reactions of the organism to an actually safe, harmless substance the body or the skin came into contact. Due to the wide spread of many ingredients, allergies can be caused by the application of different products commonly used – not only through cosmetics.

Nevertheless, ingredients in cosmetics basically can – as described above – also cause an allergic reaction (e.g. fragrances). The frequency of occurrence of allergies especially depends on the concentrations used. Since many more cosmetic products are used and also many different at the same time, the question arises, how often do users actually react to ingredients of cosmetics?
Evaluations of the industry association “The German Cosmetic, Toiletry, Perfumery and Detergent Association” (IKW) have proven, that in Germany an average of just 1,3 cases per 1 million products sold cause an incompatibility. A quite reassuring quote that may surprise some people.

As fragrances may certainly present allergens, Dr. med. Christine Schrammek Kosmetik takes great care to stay below the allergenic threshold value. Some exceptions are made with classic fragrances that have been used for years and, that possibly still contain higher amounts of specific allergens.
A huge help for consumers with allergies is the allergy pass. The allergy pass will be issued with the help of special tests by dermatologists. Those allergens (ingredients that are not tolerated) are listed in the pass and can be compared with the INCI name on the products. With the allergy pass, incorrect purchases of cosmetic products can be avoided.

Ingredients (INCI)

Ingredients in cosmetic products are declared on the packaging with its international standardized names (INCI = international nomenclature of cosmetic ingredients) and are thus easier for consumers to identify. The best condition to prevent a contact allergy is the consequent prevention of identified allergens. A special case represents the declaration of fragrances. Those are mostly found as the collective term “perfume“, “fragrance“ or “flavour“. 26 fragrances of the used perfumes are currently stated due to its frequency of allergies caused (e.g. linalool, citronellol, etc.). Certain declaration rules apply here. Those ingredients contained in rinse-off products (that are rinsed off the skin, e.g. shower gels, shampoos) have to be declared only with a content of 100ppm (=0,01%). With leave-on products that remain on the skin (e.g. creams, deodorant sprays), the declaration has to be made already at 10ppm (0,001%).

Many allergic skin disorders are also related to medication. Because special medicines (antibiotics, antidepressants etc.) can cause sensitive skin or skin disorders. In combination with sun, e.g. phototoxic reactions or photo allergies can occur (arise in combination with light and the allergenic ingredient). This context is important, if you want to find out the cause of skin reactions. Because usually skin care products are suspected first when a skin reaction occurs – often wrongly. Actually, in most cases other factors are the trigger.

Natural cosmetics

At this point, an important point of discussion is also the common opinion that natural cosmetics cannot cause allergies or intolerances. Natural cosmetics definitively don’t protect against allergic reactions because it is, in no case, free from allergenic ingredients. Fragrances present a special problem. The named fragrances under labelling requirements can also occur in natural cosmetics. Through the frequent use of essential oils, they are partly contained in higher concentrations as in conventional cosmetics. Furthermore, several plant substances have a quite more irritating or allergic potential, e.g. harmless seeming chamomile, marigold, arnica and balsam of peru.

In summary, it does not matter if ingredients, that cause allergies, are of natural or synthetic origin.

All products of Dr. med. Christine Schrammek are developed under dermatological aspects and tested by independent tests with regard to its good tolerance. As a result, reactions are quite rare. With the help of an allergy pass, possible allergens can quickly and easily be compared based on our declarations.

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