Sunday, March 25, 2007

Beware of toiletries!

The other morning while peering into the mirror and putting on my mascara for the day, I noticed that my pulse was racing and my breathing was a little forced. Hm. Mornings are usually not my best time as I'm not very perceptive to my body's reactions before my morning coffee injection...but this felt allergic reaction. I quickly thought backwards of all the prior steps to the mascara-applying stage, since I had not put anything in my mouth except for toothpaste. Shower: soap, shampoo, conditioner. Lotion. Toothpaste. Cleanser and moisturizer on the face. Styling product in the hair. You can see where I'm going with this (the picture is a big clue, btw). Four of the seven items that I used that morning included ingredients to which I was allergic, and I was having a cumulative allergic reaction before I had even had my morning cuppa joe. *sigh*

Here's the list of culprits
Shampoo and conditioner: hydrolyzed wheat protein
Lotion: chamomile (which is related to ragweed, so if you react to one you're likely allergic to both)
Styling product: wheat protein and soy oil

The irony is that because I'm more sensitive to synthetic ingredients (I try to avoid anything with petroleum products) instead I purchase toiletries with natural ones. However, after that morning reaction I found it necessary to pay attention in the toiletry cabinet just as carefully as I do at the grocery store -- the skin is an organ too and absorbs allergens just like your stomach does.

NOTE: soy and wheat are used EXTENSIVELY in toiletry products. They were in almost everything I found in the grocery/drug store shampoo products. Lots of soy in lotion-type products. My old lotion had sesame and sunflower oil as well. Because these are not food products, they are not going to be labeled as clearly as food products that which contain allergens. I am slowly finding replacements in my local beauty supply shop with the help of the proprietor, where the items tend to be more differentiated (but also more pricey). You could also hunt down items that don't include your allergens in your local health food store or Whole Foods.

Toiletries luckily list all their ingredients, so take a close look at what you're using and try to replace them when you can. Be careful out there.


Vivian Mahoney said...

Thanks for this post. I avoid toiletry products that contain dairy and nut products. Those are much easier to avoid. I've been wondering whether another ingredient might be bothering my child. Now I'll look into the chamomile. Thanks.

Allergic Girl® said...

soy is everywhere indeed! sorry to hear you had this reaction--horrible!

you may want to try castille soaps like dr. bronner that are all vegetable and no soy and biodegradable and great. most health food stores have them. and they're very old school, have been around for YEARS!

Food Allergy Queen said...

Hipwritermama...there are lots of things that are cross-reactive. My allergist told me about the ragweed/chamomile...and also during the pollen season there could be a reaction to cantoloupe as well. Oy.

Allergic girl...thanks for the tips on castille soaps. I see them in Trader Joes all the time but they kinda scare me. They're so old school that I think lye soap! But I'll give it a try and let you know.

Unknown said...

You might also check out Free & Clear and Vanicream products - you can special order them at hospital pharmacies, or order them online. I don't have soy or gluten allergies, so I'm not sure whether they exclude related ingredients, but they're generally formulated for people with allergies and chemical sensitivities. Given the prevalence of gluten and soy allergies, it seems likely they're safe.

I can't use normal toiletries at all - not even the Castille stuff, or olive oil soap. (Food allergies, plant allergies, chemical allergies). I've had great luck with the Free & Clear shampoo and conditioner and the Vanicream soap, moisturizing cream, and sunscreen. I don't like their regular lotion, though; it doesn't absorb well.

I believe they also make hairsprays and bath oil.

Food Allergy Queen said...

Thanks Taryn. I've tried Vanicream that I got from my allergist, but the main ingredient is petrolatum, and I try to avoid petrochemicals in general, and it seems to affect my hormone balance. I'll look at Free and Clear as well, thanks!

ZM said...

Oh, I go through hoop after hoop trying to find toiletries that are safe for me to use. Which is to say, dairy/egg/peanut/tree nut/gluten/corn/sesame/poppy/pumpkin-squash/soy/etc free. Never mind the lotions, etc, we all share a bathroom, and my shampoo had wheat in it! My poor kids were reacting to my toiletries, so I chucked them.
The kids use Cetaphil for soap/shampoo, and I found face washes and moisturizers at Origins. You could try them also for makeup..