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When women shop for cosmetics, they often see products that are advertised as being hypoallergenic, but are these products any safer to use than the other ones? Is it better for your eyes if you use the hypoallergenic or so-called natural or organic brands? According to experts: not necessarily.
There are no specific definitions regarding the word “hypoallergenic,” according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which regulates cosmetics, as well as drugs, food, and other products. “The term means whatever a particular company wants it to mean.” Therefore, you aren’t guaranteed that you won’t react to hypoallergenic products. You may still develop allergic reactions or irritation from your cosmetics, such as red and itchy eyes, or excessive tears.
Many years ago, some cosmetic products did contain harsh ingredients, but these have been eliminated from makeup, and the cosmetics sold today all have the same basic ingredients, says the FDA. If you compare several brands of face cream with SPF, for example, you will see that most contain ingredients such as octisalate and avobenzone, which absorb UVB rays from the sun. They also likely contain glycerin-based ingredients to help keep your skin moist, some sort of exfoliant to remove the outer layer of dead skin, and an emollient, which moisturizes the skin. Manufacturers may also add other ingredients to the mix to make them different from their competition, and it is possible that they may cause irritation or sensitivity.
When applying face cream or foundation, even the tiniest bit that comes in contact with your eye can cause a reaction. This may not necessarily be an allergy, but a reaction to the product’s actual contact with the sensitive eye tissue. Some companies also add fragrances to their products, which can cause allergic reactions in some people.
Added coloring to cosmetics can be a big issue for some people with allergies, particularly with products for the eyes, such as eye shadow, eye liner, and mascara. In particular, some people are sensitive or allergic to the red dye that is used in pink, purple, and some brown shades of eye makeup. Using these products can result in red and itchy eyes, or even conjunctivitis.
When conjunctivitis occurs, the tissues around the eyes can swell and the eye can become painful and sensitive to light. These symptoms usually go away when the product is no longer used, but if the symptoms don’t go away or seem to get worse, a visit to the doctor may be needed. Sometimes, eye drops or antihistamines are needed to help the swelling and pain go away.
Allergies to makeup can also develop over time. It is possible to use a brand or type of makeup for a while and suddenly you start to show signs of sensitivity. If this happens, stop using the product right away. You may want to look at the ingredients to see if something has change, because sometimes the manufacturers change the way they make the product. If there are no changes, you may have to change brands.