Recently acquired allergy.... um, I think.

topic posted Sat, September 2, 2006 - 9:02 AM by  Asharah
So, I have sensitive skin, and I am careful to use products that won't irritate it. But the last two times I've performed, my makeup has really messed with my eyelids. I have NOT changed products recently, further adding to the mystery. I'm using the same brands that I've been using for the past two years, and I have replaced and bought new products for the sake of hygiene. Basically, my eyelids were incredibly puffy and swollen the morning after I performed. Like crazy swollen. I could open my eyes, but the area right along the lash line was all puffed up like a water balloon! The puffiness does go away as the day goes on, so it's not persistent. This has never happened to me before. I have NO idea what could have changed, but it's really bizarre.

Anyone else have odd allergy experiences with makeup? Any solutions or remedies?
posted by:
Washington, D.C.
  • Another possibility is that you scratched the eyelid there and then got a minor infection. I wouldn't rule out the latex allergy possibility either though. But especially if you use pencils or foam rubber eye applicators it is easy to put tiny scratches in the skin when applying the makeup.

    With that spot, it may also be a product further up, possibly near the top of the lids or even in the eyebrows, that is running down in sweat and stopping at the eyelashes. Double check everything for bacterial growth and give all your applicators and tools a good sanitizing just to be sure (tweezers, lash curlers, etc). If you use liquids for mascara, eyeliner, or brows, it is a good bet that they are growing bacteria, even if they are not expired yet. Since this has happened more than once in a row.

    You can spot test your makeups on your inner arm to see if anything brings up a strong reaction too. This won't show minor stuff, but it will show things that are provoking contact dermatitis.
    • Another possibility is that while you may be using the same product, the company may have changed the formula for it. This happened with our cat food. (I know it's not the same, but the idea is.) Pretty much we were buying the same type of food but the company had slightly changed the formula and our cats were allergic to one of the changes. I imagine it could happen with make-up too.
  • Could it be that you are not getting all your eye makeup off after performing? Or my other gut reaction is to say maybe you are scrubbing too hard to remove all your makeup and drying out the skin of your eyelids? I used to to that all the time and would get the same reaction, swollen, puffy, irratated eyelids the next day. Now I use a good eye makeup remover to get the bulk of my makeup off, a gentle soap, followed by a heavier eye lotion that I would normally use. Just before bed I will splash my face with some cool water to remove any leftover lotion as well as any makeup that didn't come off before. The lotion will often cause any mascara or eyeliner that didn't come off with the remover to loosen and rinse off with nothing more than water. Hope that helps you solve your mystery!
  • Hi, Asharah,
    You may indeed have developed a new allergy to your makeup. One of the many perks of aging, I'm afraid. That happened to me, years ago. I suddenly started reacting to makeup brands (as well as soaps and shampoos) that I had used for years. I would suggest that you replace one makeup product each time you do your makeup to see if you continue to react. That way you can identify which products are causing the problem.

    When I started having allergy problems another dancer recommended that I not mix different brands of makeup. The idea was that the companies formulate their cosmetics to go together and that different brands may react with each other. Not sure if it's true, but I haven't had any reactions to my makeup since I stopped mixing brands.

    You could also try applying foundation to your eyelids before you apply your eye makeup. It helps give your makeup a uniform look anyway, but it might also provide a barrier between your sensitive eyelid skin and your makeup.

    I hope that you can find a solution. Having gone through this myself I know what a misery it is to wake up with your eyes half swollen shut!

    • Yeah... I'm definitely noticing that I have more allergies as I get older. And they really started when I moved to the East Coast from the West Coast. I have noooo problems with plant allergies in my hometown in California, but out here in Washington, DC, it's horrible!

      I think that actually the foundation on the eyelids might be part of the problem... But the idea of using all the same brand might help, although, I'm mostly a MAC girl as it is--I don't use much else other than Duo glue and She-Laq, neither of which have ever given me problems... I have no idea what happened. I'm betting it might be the eyelash glue. Grr. Puffy eyes suck.
      • I also have sensitive skin and use mostly MAC--I have found that even though MAC is generally gentle enough for me, I will react to certain colors of eyeshadow, most notably shadows with a strong red component. Wearing a base coat of cream color base on my eyelid is usually enough to protect my skin (on the other hand, I'm very allergic to the paints, the base coats that come in tubes like watercolors). If you can remember which eyeshadows you were using when you had the reactions, you might want to test those again, it might be particular colors that are causing you problems.

        Another thought--maybe there's some glitter or frost particles irritating you?
        • Interesting about the red pigments - I've had the reaction both with red pigments and with silver. But I've used the red shadow, cleaned my brushes thoroughly, then used the silver, and same puffiness.

          I tested the glitter theory, because that's what I thought was irritating my eyelids. But I didn't use glitter the last time I performed, and I had the same reaction, so the glitter has been tested and... debunked.

          I'm still goin' with the eyelash glue theory... I'll have to test that one.
  • It could also be your eyeliner.

    How old is your makeup?

    I found that I had to get a new eyeliner every 6 months because of the bacteria that gets on it causing major eyepuff.

    • Good idea, Samiay. It could also be bacterial. I went to a makeup clinic recently. The instructor recommended replacing mascara every 3 months, which is a lot more often than other people recommended (6-12 months). Then it occurred to me that my mechanical eyeliner pencil is wet enough and enclosed enough to be incubating, as well. I also know that mascara, when it gets old, can get flaky and dry, which can irritate the eyes.

      I wonder if eyelash glue can also harbor bacteria.
  • Unsu...
    Please go to the dermatologist & be truthful about what has recently happened. Another thing, when you replace cosmetics, please check the ingredientas to see if the formula has changed. This is important for people with bad allergies. Sometimes it does not say it on the front of the packaging or make the writing real small.

    It could be anything from a staph infection (I have had that in both my eyes and it took a month to get rid of it) or like you said a new allergy.

    I would stop using that brand and shop around for a new product.

    BTW - Physicians Formula make-up says it is for sensitive skin but it broke me out in hives. I use promised myself I would only use Almay from now on.
    • Thanks for the advice... But, I'm not sure going a dermotologist is totally necessary at this point. I don't think it's a bacterial infection because the puffiness goes away after a few hours, and there's no pain or oozing--just puffiness.

      Replacing the products that have been causing the reaction would probably be the next (and cheaper) course of action. I wore the eyeliner and She-Laq yesterday without the eyelash glue and had no problems at all. So... process of elimination: It must be my eyelash glue. Considering I haven't had a problem with this brand before, it might be a bad batch. My skin doesn't react to it when I used it to apply my bindis, so it is probably a case of my sensitive eyelid skin reacting to the glue.

      Oooh, yeah, and Farasha - Physician's Formula totally messed up my skin too, a while back. Their bronzer made me break out in a rash.
      • Unsu...
        Remember the eyes is the most sensative part of your face.

        I thought it was only me. I knew something was wrong when my eys started burning when I put it on. It took what seems less then 30 seconds to break me out. Tossed it and never used that stuff again. Made me wonder if it had some kind of nut in it since I am allergic to all nuts so much so I now have asthma due to it.
  • I have to be really careful about touching any metal containing nickel and then touching the eye area. Or even having the wrong screws in my titatnium glasses. and being caught in the rain. It took me ages to realise what my problem was. Eyeshadows that contain pearl and glisteny bits set me off. I thought hypo-allergenic ones made with fish scales (yes, yuck) would be ok, but I react to them as well.
  • One thing you might consider is that it could be an eye infection...the last time I went to the eye doctor, he truly made me feel old! Apparently, as we get older and small wrinkles start to appear on our eye lids, dead skin and make-up can build up on the wrinkles, which can cause infections. Taking special care to really wash the eye lids can help to prevent this, but if you do have an infection, a topical antibiotic is needed. He recommended using baby shampoo and gently rubbing the lids while washing, at least 10 'scrubs' while doing so.
    The thing that really made me feel old was how many times he said, 'as you get older'...made me feel ancient, he did! I'm 44, but geez...I don't think I'm ready for the old folks home, just yet!!! :-p
  • I used to have the same problem. This is what i came up with. I make sure I remove all traces and globs of glue from my eyes before going to bed. I use petroleum jelly. I suggest using a 10x or 15x mirror to spot any glue not visible using a regular mirror. The I apply an OTC 1% hydrocrtisone cream to my eyelids. I rub it in well, making sure not to get any in my eyes. The Walmart brand (Equate) works just fine! In the morning when I get up, I cleanse m face as usual, wiping over my eyes with the wet washcloth. I usually notice some dead skin as a result of the hydrocortisone cream. Once I finish cleansing my face, I apply a dab of camelia oil (poetroleum jelly should work just as well) to each eyelid and let it sit a few minutes before applying my false eyelashes. As long as I stick to this routine each day I will experience no problems. I did deviate one day, and skipped one of the applications, and I experienced eyelid itching, irritations, lumps and broken skin. I hope this helps

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