What are the main cosmetic allergens?

Most cosmetics will contain allergens. They will be listed within the ingredients of the product on the label, usually highlighted by being italic, bold or prefixed with a star. 

If you have allergies to skincare products it’s important that you check these allergens when you purchase and use new products.

So what are these allergens? 

There are 26 main allergens found in cosmetics. These are: 

Amyl Cinnamal
Amylcinnamyl Alcohol
Anise Alcohol
Benzyl Alcohol
Benzyl Benzoate
Benzyl Cinnamate
Benzyl Salicylate
Butylphenyl Methylpropional (Lilial) NOW BANNED
Cinnamyl Alcohol
Evernia Furfuraceae (Tree Moss) Extract
Evernia Prunastri (Oak Moss) Extract
Hexyl Cinnamal
Hydroxyisohexyl 3-Cyclohexene Carboxaldehyde (Lyral) NOW BANNED
Methyl 2-Octynoate


Allergens Butylphenyl Methylpropional (Lilial)  and Hydroxyisohexyl 3-Cyclohexene Carboxaldehyde (Lyral)  have now been banned by the EU under certain uses, though you will find that the amount of these allergens in a final product would be negligible. 

So why have them in products at all? 

Fragrance oils are made up of a number of ingredients and a lot of the ingredients that make a fragrance what it is are allergens. They are the chemicals that create the scent. Without the use of some of these allergen ingredients, the scent simply won’t smell the same. 

Most people will have not allergy to these ingredients, but it’s always a good idea to test any products listing them on a small portion of your skin before using the product. If you know that you have an allergy to any of these, avoid them. 

So why does my shower gel have different allergens to my moisturiser when they are the same fragrance? 

The permitted amount of allergens is 0.01% for rinse off products and 0.001% for leave on products. 

This is due to the length of time that the product is in contact with the skin. Therefore a higher percentage is safe in shower gel than a moisturiser as it is rinsed off. 

The calculations that we do to determine the amount if each allergen in the final product will mean that we calculate each of the 26 allergens individually and if one presents within the limit of category of our product (rinse off or leave on) then we include it on our label. If the allergen isn’t present or is less than those allowed limits then it won’t be included. 

So as you can see, they are present in very low amounts. They are nothing to worry about so long as you read your labels and do a patch test. 

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