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Food Allergies and Makeup

If you or someone in your family has food allergies you are used to reading every label that comes into your kitchen. It becomes second nature. Nothing goes into your mouth that you do not know what it is and where it came from.

But what about other labels?

I wrote last year about nut allergies and skin care and how I never realized how many products contained not only nut oil, but wheat and oats. Over the last year reading labels on lotion and soaps has also become second nature. We read every label for those products that comes into our home.

But one thing I never thought to read labels on is makeup. I never even considered makeup would be an issue.

Thankfully my daughter thought for me.

My daughter is a teenager and like most teenage girls she is wanting to venture into the world of makeup. We are starting slowly and are trying out one or two things. Last week I decided she could try mascara for the first time.

We headed to the makeup aisle at Target to check out what they had. I picked up a familiar brand that was just a basic mascara, I handed it to my daughter, and I was ready to go.

I did not read the label, I did not even think to read the label. Thankfully my daughter did.

She said to me, “Mom, I can’t use this it has almond oil in it. It says it right here.”

Thankfully my daughter remembered to read the label when I forgot.

I replied, “What! Almond oil in mascara. Really!”

Now I have nothing against almond oil. It is a natural product which is probably why it was in this product. My shock was more due to the fact that I never even thought to look for nut oil in makeup, let alone mascara.

My daughter breaks out in hives if she touches any lotion or soap with nut oil. I can only imagine what nut oil on her eye would have/could have done. I do not even want to think about it. It would have been awful.

After reading several labels we were able to easily find mascara without the nut oils in it, but it was a reminder that when you are dealing with food allergies, especially life threatening ones, you can never ever relax about reading labels. You never know what things will contain and you can not afford to make a mistake.

Yes, this weekend I had yet another reminder of what dealing with life threatening food allergies is all about.

Has anyone else had issues with makeup and odd ingredients in them?


Lynn's Kitchen Adventures


  1. I’m so glad your daughter thought to look at the label! What comfort that must bring to you as a mom that she’s conscious of her allergy to the degree that she reads all labels.

    I read them all the time for lotions, shampoos, etc., but I never even thought about mascara. Once I find a great lotion/shampoo/body wash I tend to buy up as many as I can before companies change their product. Since Shea Butter is increasingly in EVERYTHING, I try to buy the product before they add that to their line. Hand soaps are particularly challenging as almost all the soaps from bath and body have shea… and that is the popular hand soap right now.

    • Yes, I was so relieved that she read the label. I should have, but it does make it easier that she is old enough and takes it seriously enough to read labels herself. And I so agree on soaps and lotions. Nut and shea butter seem to be in almost everything now.

      • Francine says

        What is wrong with Shea Butter? I guess I don’t understand.

        • Shea Butter is technically a nut from a tree in Africa. I have not done a lot of research on it, but from what I can tell it is a nut, but the proteins are different from the other common nut allergies. However, some people that are allergic to tree nuts are allergic to shea butter. My daughter is allergic to all tree nuts( almonds, walnuts, pistachios, cashews, etc) so we have avoid shea butter if possible. She has never reacted to shea butter, but we feel it is best to avoid it. It is probably an area that is best to do your own research or ask your doctor about.

  2. Cayti Burch says

    I haven’t had much luck figuring out which ingredient in mascara it is that makes my eyes itch, I think it’s the quaternium, but still trying to figure that out. I’ve had good luck with the two brands of mascara they have over at Whole Foods on Peoria and they came out with a water-resistant one last summer that stayed on pretty good. I’m allergic to Yellow #5 which shows up in wierd things and I’m allergic to milk – both of which are in lotions and shampoos/conditioners and made me itchy.

  3. Courtney says

    In our family, we don’t have any food allergies (yet…shellfish is an allergy that strikes adults more than children…) In any case, we do have friends in three different families who suffer from severe food allergies. I have learned a few things from their experiences. First, food allergies (the type that warrant epi-pens) usually are caused by PROTEINS, not oils. The problem is that you have to be certain that the oils you are using are free of proteins, so most families just follow the rule, “when in doubt, don’t eat it/touch it.” However, I know one family who eats at Chik-Fil-A where they fry their chicken in peanut oil, even though the son has a peanut allergy. Another interesting thing which has come up is that I use Method’s “Wood For Good” polish. The label says “almond” on the bottom (on the front) and it smells of almond. One of my friends called the company to find out more about it, because her son plays at my house and I think she was afraid he would have a reaction to my wood furniture. What she discovered was shocking. Method says there is no almond in their almond-scented product. Not a drop. Weird. The FDA should be shot over the unregulated word “natural.” It means nothing. There is nothing “natural” about “natural.” In any case, the next time you see your allergist, I would ask them their opinion about your daughter’s particular situation. Maybe she is allergic to oils, but it is topic worth exploring. Like the person above, mascaras bother me and I don’t have any food allergies.

  4. My daughter is allergic to peanuts/tree nuts. The problem with cosmetics is that there are NO labeling laws for them. The companies do not have to disclose anything about allergens in the ingredients list or any warnings. I have a hard time finding any lotions without shea butter. Even non-‘natural’ brands many times have it. I usually use Aquaphor or Flanders on her for lack of anything else to use.

  5. Hi there! In response the the Chik Fil A using Peanut Oil, I had the same question. My daughter had been eating at that place forever with the grandparents, and she is SUPER anaphylacticly allergic to ALL nuts, like Linda’s daughter above. Our allergist explained that the Peanut Oil they use is so highly refined that MOLECULARLY it no longer resembles peanut. However, if we were to buy gourmet Peanut Oil at the grocery store, it would send her into immediate shock. So, just interesting…it kind of freaked me out that a food could be so highly processed as to break down to a point that it was no longer recognizable on a molecular level. Eek!

  6. I have had problems with this. I am allergic to nuts, peanuts, soy and all other beans. I kept getting acne bad all over my face, the big painful acne. I couldn’t figure out why until I found out about the allergies. Turns out the vitamin E is soy based most of the time and that is in most make up. Also I kept getting stye’s (sp?) in my eye and it was the same thing with eyeliner. I now use everyday mineral make up (check out their website) and I have no problems. I found soy flour in my eyeshadow made by Nutrogena! I have had to do a total makeover of my makeup bag!
    My DD is also allergic to nuts so we have to double check her make up too.

  7. My daughter is allergic to all nuts and legumes. She would like to try a new face wash but it has walnut shells, so I have asked the manufacturer if they have an alternative product safe for those with nut allergies. And the responses I have gotten continually dismiss the severity of this life threatening allergy. They keep saying nobody is allergic to ALL nuts. Sheer stupidity. Needless to say, we will keep looking!

    • I have been amazed at the amount of nuts and nut oils in skin care products. It can be hard to find something safe for my daughter, so I totally understand!

  8. Christine Petric says

    As far as manufacturers go, the people creating or packaging products could have eaten nuts and then touched the product. Think about Mcdonalds burgers for example. NO ONE takes allergies seriously, people even eat peanut butter sandwiches on the bus. I have has over 15 reactions since January of this year, do not eat in restraunts, coffee shops, and make all my food from scratch with brands I know. We even ban all products containing nuts from the house. I still have reactions at this extreme and unless the world changes in some way it will be unavoidable.

    As far as skin care products depending on the type, I use some Vichy spot treatments, Neutrogena cream and makeup remover, and spectro gel face wash. Always read the label but certain products by these companies have been fine for me and my allergy list is a mile long including all nuts, shellfish, plants, fruits, etc. Whatever you do do not use proactiv or any harsh treatments on your face, there is bleach in it!

    • Christine it sounds like we have the same kind of allergies. Have you found any cosmetic brands that are safe for you to use?

  9. I’ve had a horrible time with makeup! I’m not only allergic to tree nuts but also coconut and jojoba. I’ve all but given up! Having severe reactions on your eyes, lips and/or face is no fun

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