About 2 years ago I started breaking out. My face, parts of my arms, my neck…red splotchy, eczema, swelling, itching, burning…pretty awful at times. I had no idea why this was happening, and after chalking it up to seasonal allergies and getting a few steroid shots to mask my symptoms, I decided it was time to see an allergist and get some help.
It was determined that I was allergic to something touching my skin, not something I was inhaling, an allergic contact dermatitis. Next a patch test was ordered. On day one, 75 little circles, each containing a different chemical, were placed on my back and identified with a marker and then basically covered in plastic wrap. No sweating, showering, etc. for 48 hours. At the second appointment (48 hours later) the patches are removed and a preliminary reading is done. Again, no getting the back wet, and another 24 hours later, back for a third appointment for another reading. This 72 hours reading is where all the irritation started for me. Thankfully after the reading I could take Benadryl, shower, etc. to help ease the irritation.
The results, allergic to:
Propylene Glycol (most allergic to this!) – found in everything from food to cosmetics, lotions, cleaners, medications, etc.
Benzophenone 4 – found in sunscreens, cosmetics, etc.
Cocamidopropyl Betaine – found in shampoos, cosmetics, body wash, etc.
Methylisothiazolinone – found in hair products, body wash, paint, etc.
Oleamidopropyl Dimethylamine – found in lotions and hair products
Glyceryl Monothioglycolate – found in permanent wave products (hair)
Nickel – found in foods, jewelry, household items, razors, silverware, etc.
Carba Mix – found in rubber goods
And now the hard work starts. I had to eliminate all of this from my every day use. How hard could it be, just 8 chemicals to avoid? Well to completely avoid all 8 of these, I had to avoid 97 ingredients that can also contain the above. I spent hours and hours, like can’t even tell you how much time reading labels. I had to replace everything I was using at home: most make-up, body wash, shampoo, conditioner, face wash, body lotion, face lotion, dry shampoo, laundry detergent, all cleaning products, hand soap, dish soap, and more. Once I eliminated these items I was on the hunt then, and reading hundreds of more labels, to find products to replace my old ones. This seriously took months.
My face would clear up for a little bit, then break back out. I would have to try and figure out what was causing it this time. What chemical did I misread on a label? At one point, when I was pregnant with Kollyns, and didn’t know yet, my face was it’s worst, and for weeks. I went back to the allergist and they called me in a medication, Eucrisa. It was awful. It burned horribly! I couldn’t use it. I also found out I was pregnant and had to stop using a few medications they had also recommended I use. I wasn’t getting any better and decided to see another doctor, Dr. Patterson. He saved me, haha! First he pointed out that the second ingredient in the Eucrisa, that I was rubbing on my eyes and face, was propylene glycol!! What?! The chemical I was most allergic too, my old allergy doctor was having me rub it on my face! I was so mad! Dr. Patterson wanted me to use a steroid cream, but was at a loss because it couldn’t be too strong because I was pregnant, and it couldn’t have propylene glycol. He said my case was one of the more difficult he has seen in all his years. He called me a few days later and found a pharmacist that was able to locate a hydrocortisone cream that I could use. This started to work! I couldn’t believe it. (I also realized that the body wash that was in the database of items not containing chemicals I’m allergic too — from the old doctor, had propylene glycol.) So using the cream and eliminating the body wash really helped.
Fast forward to today, and I think I have things pretty under control. I’ll have a small flare up every now and then, but will just use the cream for a few days. I’m still constantly reading labels when I want to try a new product. And this brings me to a new and exciting venture…Beautycounter.
Beautycounter’s mission is to get safer products into the hands of everyone. Something I am obviously passionate about. I really want to be a resource for anyone with allergies and just anyone no longer wanting to use products with harmful unregulated chemicals in them. When I was navigating my allergies I wish I would have known about Beautycounter, as it would have saved me a lot of time, and introduced me to some great products.
Going through this whole process with my allergies has not been fun, but has really opened my eyes to the products and chemicals I was exposing myself and my family too.
The United States has not passed a major federal law to regulate the safety of ingredients used in personal care products since 1938.Over the past two decades, the European Union has banned close to 1,400 chemicals in the product formulas of personal care products and restricted the levels of over 250 more in such products. The United States has only partially banned 30 to date. At Beautycounter, they’re committed to a health and safety standard that goes well beyond what’s required by U.S. law: They’ve prohibited the use of more than 1,500 questionable or harmful chemicals through “The Never List™” — all while ensuring their products perform and that they’re as indulgent as any other luxe shampoo, lipstick, or oil in the market.
I also love this helpful tool, it’s their ingredients glossary. You can look up any ingredient and find exactly what products contain it.
I know this is getting long, and if you’re still reading I hope you have been able to learn a little something from my post. If you are ever interested in Beautycounter products and eliminating harmful chemicals from the cosmetics you use, you can order them from me here.
If you ever have any questions on the products or on navigating your allergies, or switching over products you use to safer products, please do not hesitate to reach out. To be completely honest, I never was concerned about products or chemicals I was using in the past. If it hadn’t been for the allergies I developed I would still probably be using the same products I always have. I’ve done hours of research and read so many studies about the harmful effects using these chemicals can have on us — infertility, cancer, etc. That is why I have made the switch to cleaner products, and now that I have kids, it’s even more important for me to protect them, and what I am using on them. I’m really passionate about this and would love to help any and everyone, as I know when you have to make a change, in my case because of the allergies I developed, it is so time consuming and there are little resources out there. Let me be your resource : )