Sigh, yet another product to add to my skincare/makeup allergy list: Kate Somerville Oil Free Moisturizer
This is going to be quite a long post, but I want to share as much as I can about my allergic reaction experiences in hopes it will help someone who may also be allergic to the same products/ingredients.
Suffering from a skin allergic reaction is definitely extremely frustrating for more reasons than one.
Physically, your skin may feel itchy, hot, swollen, dry, and tight. If the reaction is more severe, you may even have some blisters/pustules that ooze (yikes!).
Psychologically, I always feel extremely frustrated because there are so many unknowns.
It can be difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of the reaction, especially since some reactions are delayed. Thus, you may not show any signs of an allergy until 24-72 hours after exposure to the allergen (this has always been the case in my allergic contact dermatitis reactions to skincare products).
You may be able to narrow it down to which product caused the reaction, but it's extremely difficult to determine which exact ingredient is the culprit since most products contain well over 10 ingredients.
To add to the frustration, it's hard to predict how the reaction will progress. How swollen and red does my face look now? Will I scratch my face unknowingly during my sleep and cause scars? Will it get worse tomorrow? How long will it last? Will I wake up looking like Alex Hitchens during the frantic allergy scene in Hitch? So many unknowns!!!
My personal experience:
Here's a brief timeline of how my allergic reaction progressed & symptoms experienced.
Day 1: Used Kate Somerville Oil Free Moisturizer on face morning & night, no signs of a reaction.
Day 2: Used morning & night, slight itching on my cheeks at night but no bumps or visible redness.
Day 3: Woke up with a swollen face that felt hot/warm to the touch with small red raised bumps. Face was extremely itchy; redness on face looks patchy. I think I subconsciously apply more moisturizer to the left side of my face, and I noticed the left side of my face was more swollen (my left eye area was so swollen you couldn't see my eyelid fold anymore). I stopped using the moisturizer this day.
Day 4: Woke up with small red raised bumps still present. Very small pustules formed in certain areas (the area where I initially dabbed the moisturizer on my face). Skin felt more itchy than the day before but appeared slightly less swollen. Skin had some very small, dry, flaky patches.
Day 5: Woke up with less swelling/redness and itching was only mild throughout the day. Small raised bumps still present all over my face. Skin felt very dry.
Day 6: Significantly less itchiness, redness subsided, small bumps less noticeable. Small flaky patches still present on my cheeks and around my nose. Skin feels more dry than normal.
Day 7: Slight redness still present (face looked slightly sunburnt). Small raised bumps barely noticeable. No itching or swelling.
Day 8-10: No redness, but skin is still flaky and dry.
Day 11: Skin returns to normal (yay!!!!)
So what can you do to manage this skin allergic reaction?
The symptoms will subside on their own in a week or so; however, there are some tips you can keep in mind to help you get get through the reaction.
- Stop using the product right away.
- Don't scratch. I know how hard it is, but scratching already sensitive skin could potentially cause scarring or infection.
- Try not to touch irritated areas; but if you have to, gently pat skin to relieve itching.
- Cool oatmeal or an oatmeal wash can help soothe your skin and relive itching temporarily.
- Medication. If you cannot resist scratching, consider taking over-the-counter benadryl by mouth (at bedtime) to help with itching. Unfortunately, benadryl hasn't helped relieve any of my skin allergic reaction symptoms.
For me personally, oral corticosteroid doses (prednisone) helped reduce the itching and swelling. Oral steroids are usually reserved for severe cases and you will need to see your doctor to get a prescription.
- Keep your skin moisturized with a non-comedogenic fragrance free moisturizer that you've used with no issues in the past.
- Avoid taking hot showers or washing your face with hot water as this can further dry out your skin and increase irritation.
- Don't dwell on what your reaction looks like. It's easy to feel self-conscious about what your face looks like while going through this allergic reaction, but worrying about it is not going to change anything. Just focus on getting through your day as normally as possible, and DO NOT SCRATCH.
- Keep track of your symptoms in case you have another skin allergic reaction in the future. You'll feel less anxious if you already know how your skin will heal.
- Test products on a small area on your neck or inner wrist before using all over the face.
Other products I have had an allergic reaction to:
- Philosophy Hope In A Jar (suspected ingredient causing allergy: lavender oil?)
- Sunless Tanners (ingredient causing allergy: DHA, dihydroxyacetone)
I have tried the following self tanners:
- Jergens Natural Glow
- L'Oreal Sublime Bronze Self-Tanning Lotion
- St Tropez Self Tanning Mousse (which worked really well! unfortunately I developed hives all over)
- Tarte Brazilliance Skin Rejunvenating Maracuja Face and Body Self Tanner (which gave me a mild rash, but did not work well)
- Josie Maran Argan Color Stick (mild reaction. contains mangifera indica which is mango seed butter; I am allergic to mango skin)
- Revlon Colorburst Lipstick*
- Rimmel London Lasting Finish Lipstick*
*I naturally have very dry lips and just avoid wearing any lipstick all together :(
I have eaten pre-cut mangoes with no issues, but one time I cut my own mango and decided to bite the mango fruit off the skin. NEVER AGAIN. I had a serious allergic skin reaction that persisted for over a week. It was bad -- I'm talking oozing small blisters all around my mouth and on my cheeks.
My mango skin allergic reaction was way worse than any skincare product ever caused. I did some research and found out that mango skin contains urushiol, which is an organic oil found in poison ivy/oak/sumac. Well, heck!! I used to get poison ivy every summer when I was a kid. Now that I know how hypersensitive my immune system is, I avoid mangos all together.
Not sure if this is relevant, but I also have a shellfish/crustacean sensitivity. My lips get tingly/swollen/itchy when I eat shrimp/crab/lobster, but it subsides after a few hours.
I am including these photos in hopes it will help someone identify their allergic reaction. I know some people get irked by photos of skin conditions, so I have posted these photos as smaller images in this post. You can click on the photo to see the full size image.
The left photo is a close-up of the redness.
The lighting in right photo really depicts how bumpy my skin appeared.
The next day, you can still see the bumpiness and redness.
Small, dry, flaky patches present on my cheeks.
Finally the bumpiness starts to improve.
I decided to apply the product on my inner wrist. Yup, it caused bumpy redness.
When the allergic reaction finally cleared, this is my normal skin tone/texture:
Below are photos I took from my Hope In A Jar allergy from 2 years ago:
To those who are currently experiencing an allergic skin reaction, I wish you the best of luck! I really hope this post helps someone out there. You'll get through this :) What products are you allergic to? Feel free to share you allergy experiences below to help others out!