Practically anything may cause an allergic reaction in someone. The ingredient that is an irritant to you personally may be completely harmless to others. It may be in the food you eat, the clothing fibers you are wearing, the pollen of flowers carried on the wind, in the fur of your favorite domestic cat. It may be in the deodorant you are using, or the depilatory, or in any one of your hair preparations.
There is no accounting for it, nor is there as yet any specific "cure". When the word is used in connection with cosmetics, it means simply that one woman in a thousand (or in many thousands) reacts to some ingredient in a cosmetic product which others use with joy and without ill effects of any kind. The reaction usually takes the form of a skin eruption or rash, which breaks out after contact with some specific preparations. Generally, the symptoms are merely redness, swelling or itching in a small area, although sometimes they may resemble the effects of a common cold or hay fever.
If you think you have an allergy to any one of the various cosmetic preparations you use, the first thing to do is try to find out which one of your beauty aids is the culprit.
It is always wise to consult your doctor, but it will help him to help you if, in the early stages, you try this simple but effective preliminary test. Rub a little of the cream, lotion, lipstick, or other preparation which you suspect may be unsuitable for you in a small area just below or slightly behind one ear (in the place most hair stylists normally use to test your reaction to any permanent hair coloring before they go ahead with the first application). Do not wash this part of the skin for at least twenty-four hours unless you start to feel some reaction such as burning or itching. When there is any sign of reaction, immediately sponge the skin with warm water and baby-mild soap. There is no need to wait longer, for you have established your case and have pinned down at least one likely offender.
If you feel nothing after three days and if there is no sign of redness, pinkness or rash, then the particular cosmetic you have put to the test is innocent and you must experiment further with others, one by one.
If you are allergic to any cosmetics, do not despair. There are many who suffer in the same way. We are living in the age of allergies and each year sees an increase in the number of allergic reactions reported. Advances in cosmetic science have resulted in more chemically treated and formulated compounds, as well as in a vastly increased number of preparations used in the pursuit of beauty. To be allergic to the use of any favorite cosmetic is, in itself, heart breaking to the individual concerned. Recognizing this fact, some cosmetic manufacturers now produce specially created ranges of hypoallergenic creams, powders and lipsticks. A complete range of these non-irritant cosmetic products is made by "Almay", purchased from good chemists or beauty counters in various department stores.