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Liste des substances allergènes dans les cosmétiques.

Allergens in Cosmetics: Which Ones Should You Avoid?

Conventional or natural cosmetics may contain allergens in their formulation. To protect consumers, they are subject to certain regulations. Find out how many there are, what the labeling requirements are, and what dosages must be followed.

What Is an Allergen in Cosmetics?

Allergens come mainly from fragrances used in cosmetic products (essential oils, perfumes, etc.) and are foreign substances to the body that can trigger an excessive reaction of the immune system when they come into contact with the skin. This usually applies to people who are particularly prone to allergies. The allergy-causing effect of a substance is based on its ability to bind to skin proteins. The stronger the binding, the greater the likelihood that an allergy will develop.

Allergens in Cosmetics – A List

Currently, 26 allergenic substances have been identified by the "Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (SCCS)" and officially included in Annex III of the Cosmetics Regulation No. 1223/2009 - No. 89. As a result, the cosmetics industry must comply with the legal requirements and label the packaging of the cosmetic product when a certain threshold is exceeded. This obligation is crucial to inform the consumer. The latter must know that he or she is allergic to one or more of the substances on the list. Most of these allergens are natural or synthetic fragrances and essential oil components.

  • Isoeugenol

  • Coumarin

  • Cinnamyl alcohol (INCI name: Cinnamyl Alcohol)

  • Alpha-amyl cinnamaldehyde (INCI name: Amyl Cinnamal)

  • Alpha-amylcinnamyl alcohol (INCI designation: Amylcinnamyl Alcohol)

  • Benzyl alcohol (INCI designation: Benzyl Alcohol)

  • Benzyl benzoate (INCI designation: Benzyl Benzoate)

  • Benzyl cinnamic acid ester (INCI designation: Benzyl Cinnamate)

  • Benzyl salicylate (INCI designation: benzyl salicylate)

  • Hexyl cinnamal (INCI name: Hexyl cinnamate)

  • Alpha-iso-methylionone (INCI designation: alpha-isomethyl ionone)

  • Anise alcohol (INCI name: Anise Alcohol)

  • Citral

  • Cinnamal

  • Linalool

  • Geraniol

  • Farnesol

  • Hydroxycitronellal

  • Citronellol

  • Limonene

  • Methyl 2-otynoate

  • Evernia furfuracea (INCI name: Evernia Furfuracea Extract)

  • Evernia prunastri (INCI name: Evernia Prunastri Extract)

Since August 23, 2021 and March 1, 2022, respectively, Lyral and Lilial have been banned in cosmetic care products because these substances triggered a large number of allergy cases.

The list of allergens will evolve based on regular assessments and scientific advances. For example, according to SCCS Opinion No. 1459/11, this list tends to be expanded to about 87 allergens, which corresponds to 61 additional allergens compared to the list of 26 allergens already established in the regulations. In fact, since 2012, the SCCS has recommended that these allergens should be added to the existing list of allergens to alert consumers to their presence.

What Are the Regulations Around Allergens in Cosmetics?

There are some requirements for the 26 allergy-causing substances listed, whether in terms of maximum dosage or labeling. The European Commission has decided that their indication on the ingredient list on the label of care products containing them is mandatory if the concentration exceeds 0.001% in products to rinse and 0.01% in products not to rinse off the skin since March 11, 2005.

In order to reduce their risk of allergy or sensitization, their dosage in formulations is limited. It is set by IFRA (International Fragrance Association) depending on the type of product and the level of exposure, because the higher the concentration, the greater the risk of allergy.

What To Do in Case of an Allergy?

When an allergy occurs, the first thing to do is to improve the symptoms, i.e. redness and itching. To do this, you should first stop using the skin care products that may have triggered the skin reaction and remove the cosmetics with soap and water. Afterwards, depending on the severity of the reaction and how it feels, there are several ways to soothe the affected area.

  • If the itching is still tolerable, soothe the skin symptoms with topical skin care products that have a soothing and calming effect.

  • If the itching is severe, consider taking an oral antihistamine from the pharmacy.

  • In some cases, depending on the severity of the symptoms, a visit to the doctor should be considered.

Once the reaction has subsided, and in the event that multiple products are potentially responsible for the allergy, it is time to determine the product or products responsible. To do this, first reintroduce the cosmetic products one by one. However, this method is not appropriate for imputing a specific substance or substances. Rather, it will allow you to remain vigilant about the composition of your future skin care products.

On the other hand, if the reaction recurs with other products, you should consult an allergist to determine the ingredient responsible for your allergic reaction through allergy testing. Once you have identified the allergy-causing substance, all you have to do is avoid recurrences by banning it from your skincare regimen.

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