Could I Have an Eye Makeup Allergy?

Published: March 6, 2006

Q. The skin around my eyes seems easily irritated, and becomes flaky and peels when I wear most eye shadows or use certain moisturizers. Could these be symptoms of an allergy to eye makeup? What do you suggest?

Dr. Skotnicki: Because the skin around the eye is the thinnest on the body, it’s easily irritated by toiletry products, cosmetics, ophthalmic medications, even the elements. If you have a genetic tendency towards eczema or dermatitis, you’ll also be more prone to developing irritation around the eye.

Don’t use creams meant for the hands or body on the face because they’re formulated differently, and might have concentrations not meant for the more delicate face and eye areas.

Make sure you choose products that are fragrance-free and that list their ingredients, such as Almay and Clinique. Olay has a great eye cream for sensitive skin, too. Remember that many lines labeled “sensitive skin” or “hypoallergenic” might still have allergens or irritants in their formulations, so look for a complete list of ingredients.

If flaking and itching continue, see a dermatologist, because you may have developed allergic contact dermatitis (flaky, red, itchy skin resulting from a reaction to a chemical) to an ingredient. Only about 3.4 per cent of North Americans have allergic contact dermatitis to fragrance – so it’s more likely that you’re experiencing irritation to chemicals in your skincare and makeup products.

Common irritants include perfume, sunscreen and many botanicals. Remember, just because it’s natural doesn’t mean it will work for you – poison ivy is natural!

• Preventing atopic eczema flare-ups
• Are parabens in cosmetics my problem?
• What is eczema and what are the best treatments?

Find Dr. Skotnicki’s clinic at

First published in Allergic Living magazine.
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