Side Effects of Cosmetic Products

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An itchy rash can be one side effect of using cosmetic products that don't suit your skin.
An itchy rash can be one side effect of using cosmetic products that don't suit your skin. (Image: Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images)

Women (and men) buy cosmetic products with the intent of enhancing their looks, but unfortunately, those products sometimes result in unwanted side effects, including allergic reactions and skin sensitivity. It's important to read product labels to be familiar with all the ingredients they contain, and wise to do a test application to see how your skin reacts before using a new product over a large area.

Allergies

Cosmetics allergies are usually signified by itching, often accompanied by redness and a hot, bumpy rash. If you have an allergic reaction to a product, it means your immune system identifies an ingredient, or combination of ingredients, as a threat. Be aware that using hypo-allergenic products is no guarantee against experiencing allergic reactions; it usually just means the formula contains no known allergens.

If you're prone to allergies, choose products you know and try to isolate ingredients that might affect you. Layering and combining too many products exposes skin to a cocktail of substances, so keep your beauty regime simple. Allergy symptoms occasionally become extreme and dangerous, so discontinue using products that cause a reaction and seek a doctor's or dermatologist's advice if symptoms persist.

Sensitization

Having sensitive skin usually means your skin lacks protection, for example enough sebum, so it becomes easily inflamed when coming into contact with certain products. For any skin type, using harsh cosmetic products can temporarily sensitize the skin, leading to discomfort. If you already have sensitive skin, this side-effect of cosmetic use is more likely, so always choose gentle products. For maximum comfort, try to avoid ingredients such as alcohol, essential oils, enzymes and fruit acids. It's easy to confuse sensitivity with allergy, but sensitized skin usually just stings rather than itches.

Blocked Pores

Non-comedogenic cosmetics are ones that don't contain ingredients known to clog pores, yet simply using products too rich can cause an excess of oil and lead to spots and blackheads. Choosing products to suit your skin type is the best way to avoid this. In particular, be careful to distinguish between dehydration (a lack of water) and dryness (a lack of oil). If you have oily or combination skin, choose lightweight hydrating products to combat flakiness or fine lines. Always remove makeup at the end of the day; it combines with sebum and dirt, so removing it allows the skin to breathe. If you find wearing makeup leads to spots and blackheads, use a daily, gentle deep cleanser such as a cleansing oil.

Potent Ingredients

Modern cosmetics are designed and sold to give visible results. This means some contain potent ingredients that enhance their effectiveness. For example, many anti-aging formulas can now penetrate the skin deeper, which can provoke allergic reactions in those whose systems resist this intrusion.

Although applied topically, rather than taken orally, skincare products containing retinol, or retinoids (a type of vitamin A) are not recommended during pregnancy due to concerns about its affect on the unborn child. Certain eyelash-growth gels have also recently come under scrutiny for having unwanted side effects, such as permanently darkening the skin

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