First of what does the word “Allergen” even mean? It’s usually described as “any substance, often a protein, that induces an allergy”. Products in the EU should always show the allergens on a visible place and cosmetic products are no exception.
Most allergens that have a higher “potential” are the ones connected to fragrances. It’s scientifically proven that 1-3 % of European population have an allergy due to fragrance ingredients (observed by the Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety SCCS). It doesn’t matter if the origin is synthetic or natural.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THE SKIN GETS IN TOUCH WITH ALLERGENS?
The simple answer is the skin gets irritated by something that you touched. This can take minutes, few hours or even months to develop. This is called irritant contact dermatitis. Under this we could consider pimples, uneven skin, flaky skin and chronically dry skin.
Scientifically speaking dermatitis is not a true allergic reaction as its not connected to the immune system but rather to the skin. When we speak of Allergic contact dermatitis we can say that it’s a true allergic reaction. The latter is more severe and intense but both can cause itchy, swollen and red skin.
Remember that each of us have different tolerance level for specific natural ingredient. In return this makes it really hard to pinpoint if a product is potentially harmful. Natural or organic ingredients can be highly potent in smaller concentrations and amounts. Using a product might not activate a reaction immediately but exposure over long periods of time can activate a certain reaction.
IS NATURAL SKIN CARE ENHANCING ALLERGENS AND IS IT MORE HARMFUL THAN THE SYNTHETIC PRODUCTS?
The short answer is NO! Natural ingredients have no real stronger potential to enhance allergies. Natural cosmetic might expose an allergic reaction sooner due to the purer ingredients as a person can meet them during their whole life and are known. But the real problem are the chemicals in the synthetic products that are unknown to your body. They might do nothing or they might show harmful results during a longer use.
Some of the natural ingredients that can cause allergic reactions are (by INCI name):
- Benzyl alcohol
DO I NEED TO WORRY?
There is a simple answer to that and that is NO. Most important is to avoid or minimize allergic reactions which are connected to certain products and learn the language of your body. If you’re not sure try a patch test first. This means dab a small amount of the product on a part of your body (inner wrist or inner elbow). Leave it there for several hours and if you get a burning reaction than wash it off immediately.
Know that Natural products are generally safer, without exposure to the chemical creations in the laboratory. The rule here is to keep it simple and know your body!