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painful reaction to face products - anyone else?

(35 Posts)
underthebluemoon Sat 11-Jan-14 13:54:19

For a year I have been plagued with allergic reactions to products I use on my face. It seems to me each reaction is getting worse and lasting longer. My face goes red, puffy and itchy. Then it goes incredibly dry, tight and scaly. Deep lines appear especially around my eyes, aging me by about 20 years! The last episode lasted bout 12 days.

Obviously I have tried to eliminate triggers but its so hard. 'Simple' moisturiser was the last trigger. Even different products within the same range are bad for me - I can use Eucerin face cream (a dermatological skincare range) but not the night cream from the same range.

The doctor offered to refer me for testing but didn't seem hopeful.

Anyone else the same? Any tips? My face is so painful again today and unslightly. I worry that even prodcuts I think are safe are going to change if the manufacturer changes the ingredients.

Djangor Sat 11-Jan-14 14:27:09

I had 2 major episodes about 10 yrs apart when my facial skin reacted so badly to a small amount of a new cream that I thought I was scarred for life. Reaction was like sunburn and my skin noticeably thickened & went bright red. Hydrocortisone cream from the doctor was a miracle cure - could actually feel my skin getting smoother & thinner when I put the cream on but it took several days to get back to normal. Hydrocortisone is a dangerous drug to use - I gather it can thin the skin so it is more or less emergency only. After my first episode I only used brands advertising for sensitive skin but the 2nd episode made me narrow down to a handful that work for me - Elemis, Ren, Mama Mio, Neals Yard, Liz Earle. Clarins & a few of the no7 products. Hayfever pills - antihistamine - help if I get a hint of a mild reaction to anything which sometimes happens if I am taking other pills eg antibiotics - there are so many drugs that have complicated side effects. Severe stress can also cause problems. My facial skin seems to react differently to skin on other parts of the body so doing a test is difficult. I did try the Simple range but found it was too thin & watery so I had to use a lot of product to get a rather poor moisturising effect whereas just a pea sized amount of Elemis or Mama Mio moisturiser works a lot better for me.

whereisshe Sat 11-Jan-14 14:36:20

I don't get as severe a reaction as you but I do have a mild itching / tightening reaction to lots of products. I actually think it's a good thing - it saves me lots of money!

I've reduced my skin care routine to a few natural products:
- Anita grant wheatgerm and carrot oil cleanser (which I get online) for removing make up
- lush angels on bare skin for cleansing in the shower
- trilogy rose hip oil (I use lots) as my moisturiser

My skin actually looks better than it used to with lots of product as well.

underthebluemoon Sat 11-Jan-14 14:48:04

Thank you both. I'll def look into those products. So fed up! Do have some hydrocort cream but don't want to use it too much. Thanks again, nice to know I am not alone.

Justgowithit Sat 11-Jan-14 14:51:20

Chemical methylisothiazolinone (MI) can cause severe skin reactions
Several cosmetics companies are removing the chemical urgently
Allergic reaction rate to MI is ten per cent, normal is one to two per cent
Have a look at the products and see if this common preservative is to blame for your reactions. If you research it you will find many dermatologists blame this for an increase in skin allergic reactions.

Gileswithachainsaw Sat 11-Jan-14 14:57:32

Try naturissimo
Or my pure

They are all hypo allergenic, have none of the SLS and parabans it other chemicals that usually cause reactions.
Think most of them are vegan too so no lanolin or other animal based products that can cause reactions.
Pricy but fab.

Gileswithachainsaw Sat 11-Jan-14 14:58:16

They are web sites selling a large range of allergy free products

ProfPlumSpeaking Sat 11-Jan-14 14:58:48

Yes, methylisothiazolinone is a new ingredient (preservative) in many trusted face products and would do just as you describe. Check and stop.

underthebluemoon Sat 11-Jan-14 15:07:34

yes, I have heard of this - my mum passed on an article about this to me. I just checked the Eucerin night cream and it is not a listed ingredient. The Simple moisturiser doesn't list any ingredients, although they might have been on the box.

Pollywallywinkles Sat 11-Jan-14 16:34:44

I had patch testing a number of years ago due to issues with skin products. It seemed to start with my face, then I also had it on my scalp, then my stomach and legs. My skin would start off as itchy, then itchy beyond belief, red and then dry, before my skin shed. Patch testing did show what I was allergic to...a particular preservative which was in all of the products I was using. It has since been banned.

IMO its worth going for testing.

FrugalFashionista Sat 11-Jan-14 16:36:58

OP I get this too. I've been allergic for a few years to some common cosmetic ingredient - contact dermatitis symptoms - and now it seems that I'm sensitive to something new. And I've developed perioral dermatitis - the red/sore/itching/peeling cycle is a part of that too. Wore lipgloss today and my lips are now sore and tingling.

I've simplified my routines to next to nothing and I'm starting to wonder if all that skincare and makeup was just harmful and unnecessary. Would love to find a lipcolor that would not cause a reaction but otherwise I'm going to drastically limit what I put on my face. For the first days, that felt awful and my skin felt terribly dry, but when I stopped using cleansers and moisturizers it seems that my skin is gradually becoming more balanced and the dryness is decreasing. A dermatologist I once talked to said that a lot of money is being made by making women first strip their face of its natural oils using various products and then reapplying it from a jar. Have you ever wondered how most men manage to keep their face in decent shape without all the lotions and potions we are brainwashed to buy...

There are hundreds of potential irritants in skincare and makeup - it's not easy to find what triggers sensitivities. Natural essential oils can be quite sensitizing too, it is possible to be allergic to castor oil for example and it's a common ingredient in natural skincare.

CosDNA.com and Makeupalley are great for decoding ingredients lists!

isanyoneelsehotandcold Sat 11-Jan-14 16:46:29

My face is the same and I haven't found a solution for it. When it goes all dry and scaly though, I put some Vaseline aloe vera lip therapy stuff on it. I'd definitely recommend giving it a go. It makes the scaliness a lot better. Would love to find a moisturiser that doesn't make me react though.

AppleSnow Sat 11-Jan-14 17:02:52

I've been having exactly the same problem for a year and after several trips to the doctor (who thought it might be rosacea or seborrheic dermatitis and gave me creams that didn't help) have finally been referred to a dermatologist (though I've got a 2 month wait sad . Nothing seems to soothe my skin and at worst it feels like I have acid on my face. I've spent a fortune on skin care products only to find that I react to them. I'm in the perimenopause so hormonal factors might be to blame. Will try some of the products other posters have mentioned.

Djangor Sat 11-Jan-14 17:42:15

Apart from problems with facial skin products I also have a bit of a wool allergy - good cashmere is not a problem but scarves made of other wool irritate my neck and even my arms. I also have 1 hyper sensitive foot - could possibly be psoriasis as my father suffers from that - but last summer I bought fitflops & wearing them in the heat resulted in itchy blisters on 1 foot - thought it was a reaction to a plant at first but after wearing the fitflops indoors the following week I got the same reaction & realised 1 foot is allergic to the chemicals in whatever fitflops are made of.

Aquelven Sat 11-Jan-14 18:44:12

I have this too & also a reaction to something that makes my whole face, especially round my eyes face & throat, swell up very badly. I've ended up in hospital on a ventilator, via A&E, three times previously with anaphylactic shock so it isn't something to be taken lightly as it can progress.
I was sent for testing, prick tests followed by blood tests which are more thorough but the specific cause can't be pinned down unfortunately so I don't know what to avoid. So now I have to carry antihistamines, steroids, & an Epipen as last resort,within reach at all times.

I'm very wary of trying anything new & take a one a day antihistamine every single day.

underthebluemoon Sat 11-Jan-14 18:53:55

Omg Aquelven that sounds awful.
Thank you everyone for your replies.

LittleBabyPigsus Sun 12-Jan-14 11:44:32

Djangor if you have a wool allergy, reactions to facial skin products might be caused by lanolin? It's a wool by-product.

stephenisjustcoming Sun 12-Jan-14 11:53:37

not quite as bad as everyone else's awful reactions, but I've developed rosacea over the past few years, and now get painful flareups with certain proactive skincare lines. Avene/La Roche Posay cleaners and moisturisers are best for soothing when my skin's reactive, particularly Avene's Skin Recovery cream; Emma Hardie cleanser is also very gentle, and Cetaphil is often suggested for rosacea sufferers. Elemis SOS balm works for some people but didn't do much for me, unfortunately.

BrighterLight Mon 13-Jan-14 22:36:01

I am sorry you are having this reaction, happy to have found your post though because currently I am experiencing my very first skin reaction and it's freaked me out completely.

Just like you say underthebluemoon I got puffy open pores, scaly, very dry liney skin, dry but shiny(?) I had inflammation on my t-zone and bumps under the skin around my chin - totally awful texture and it's not resolved in the last week. I am guessing it will take a week or so for it all to clear up and I hope it does.

I am sharing with you that I have had two people comment to me that it most likely was the essential oils in the product - the product was 99% organic/natural so there is not a lot to be reactive too except the oils. This inflammed and drying response is a natural reaction to the irritant and the shinyness of the skin is the over productive oil glands trying to over compensate for the rapid dehydration (eek).

I was advised to use only water to clean my face until it calms down and have just started putting calendula cream on it and am going to try aloe vera gel (as advised by the manufacturer of the product) This might help soothe your skin and it is a natural humectant which attracts and keeps moisture in. Avocado and jojoba oil are emollient which might also be an option for moisturising.

It is encouraging to hear your reactions repaired themselves - with regard to future products I too am very apprehensive. I have been told to investigate La Roche Posy and Vichy hypoallergenic lines but to be honest at the moment I feel like not using anything.

I have also upped my intake of vitamin antioxidants and fish oils, I have been run down lately and I think this can add to the sensitivity of skin.

Consider the essential oil component as it makes sense to me, did the products use these?

Wishing you well

underthebluemoon Fri 17-Jan-14 22:52:26

Brighter light, thank you for your post. How is your skin now? Very interesting point about an allergy to essential oils. I'm not sure if the products I used contained any.
I use Dermalex cream for allergies and irritants. It is £19 a tube but honestly when you faced with this you pay for some relief! I am taking a vitamin B supplement too. Water and no alcohol probably helps too.

AlwaysSleepingBeauty Sat 18-Jan-14 11:54:22

I'm not sure what to suggest but just thought I'd say that you are not alone. I've had very sensitive skin all my life and for the last six months or so I've been having eczema breakouts on my face and my eyelids swell up to the point where I cannot see. At the moment I am using Dermol cream to clean and moisturise the area and have had steroid cream. I'm also on some long term antibiotics. I am hoping to start wearing makeup and cleansing and moisturising again more normally soon but I am nervous and unsure what to use .

LittleBabyPigsus Sat 18-Jan-14 12:14:37

Under you can get Dermalex much cheaper on Amazon. <rosacea sufferer>

QuietNinjaTardis Sat 18-Jan-14 12:20:06

In my early twenties I had extreme eczema on my face and couldn't use anything at all without a reaction. I tried loads of different brands that were for sensitive skin and the only moisturiser I can use without a reaction is steam cream. I have used nothing else on my face for years and its fab. Plus the tins are pretty.
I also have to be careful on shower gels and body products but its not as severe thankfully. Oh and I found that rose which is used in lots of sensitive skin products does not agree with my skin at all.

AlwaysSleepingBeauty Sat 18-Jan-14 12:38:55

That's interesting QuietNinjaTurtle as I was using the Uns Brennan rose cleanser , which is lovely but seems to dry out my skin quite a lot.

GypsyFloss Sat 18-Jan-14 16:16:24

I have had acne rosacea for years which is exacerbated by chemicals and at its worst it looked like I had a muzzle like a dog around my nose and mouth. This was a combination of skin scaly skin, headless spots and very itchy patches.

I switched to Green people and Faith in nature shampoo, cleanser and moisturizer and after about a year of those I was able to experiment a bit with other things.

I now use Body Shop's aloe Vera range and it's perfect for me. I can use make up ( only Clinique though) and have been able tolerate having my hair coloured, which previously would have been a complete no-go. However any new product can set it off and only this past week I have had big spots again around my mouth , linked to using Carmex tinted lip salve I think.

The other things that helped was giving up booze and coffee and avoiding perfumes, scented candles in the home and all essential oils. When it first flared up I had been using lavender oil on my pillow to help my insomnia and I really so think that was key to starting off the irritation of my skin.

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