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The American Academy of Dermatology reports the average adult uses at least seven different cosmetic products each day, and during our lifetime, up to 10 percent of us will encounter some type of allergic reaction from these products. While cosmetics can certainly make us feel more beautiful, some contain allergens that are not so pretty.

There are two types of allergic reactions caused by exposure to cosmetics: irritant contact dermatitis and allergic contact dermatitis. Both are marked by areas of inflammation (redness, itching, and swelling), but irritant dermatitis is more common. It develops when an irritating substance damages the skin. Allergic dermatitis, on the other hand, occurs when someone is allergic to a specific ingredient in a product. In either instance, it may take days or weeks of continued exposure before symptoms appear, and in some cases, a person can develop an allergy after years of use.

According to webmd.com, if you suspect an allergic reaction is related to any cosmetic product, stop using it immediately. It is also recommended that you read the list of ingredients when purchasing any products to avoid ones that have caused a reaction in the past. When looking at a new product, try a "mini-patch test" first on your inner wrist or elbow to see if it causes a reaction. Choosing products with simple formulas and applying perfume to your clothes vs. skin can help ward off any allergic reactions too.

Other tips to avoid allergies from your cosmetics and makeup include:
  • Be sure to clean your hands and face before applying any cosmetics.
  • Never share make-up.
  • If you want to test a product in the store, use a new applicator and ask the salesperson to wipe the opening of the tester with alcohol.
  • Keep cosmetic containers closed tightly and free of dust and dirt.
  • Keep cosmetics away from heat and out of direct sunlight.
  • Do not use eye make-up if you have an eye infection. When the infection is gone, discard old products.
  • Discard products if the color changes or they develop an odor.
  • If the consistency of a product changes, do not add water -- instead, throw it out.
  • Clean cosmetic brushes and applicators frequently.
And be careful, allergic reactions don't just occur from cosmetics -- they can happen because of your bra too!