What I Wish People Knew About Beauty Shopping With Allergies

Today, I’m heading back to my roots for a topic that’s close to my heart. When I first started my blog, I wanted it to focus on beauty for those with allergies. I’ve lived with multiple allergies all my life and these are a massive influence on the beauty products I buy and where I shop for them. I’ve had a few conversations with other beauty bloggers recently, lovely people who were trying to be supportive/helpful. However, I was surprised (to the point of frustration) by the lack of understanding about the difficulties those with allergies face. So I thought I’d share the things I wish people understood about beauty shopping with allergies, to debunk some common and incorrect assumptions.

Autumn Travel Makeup Bag, beauty shopping with allergies

Beauty Shopping With Allergies: Be Prepared For Disappointment

The latest launch of your favourite high street brand has just reached the shops! Yay! You’re excited and head down, eager to swatch and pick up a few products. Sound familiar? Of cause it does! However, your experience when you reach the shop is likely to be very different to someone with allergies. I suspect, you swatch various products, take the ones you like to the till and buy them. Simple! Not if you have allergies.

Despite it being a legal requirement to provide ingredients to consumers under point no. 46 of the European Cosmetics Regulation 1223/2009, the majority of the time I go into a high street shop to buy makeup I can’t find ingredients lists. This is particularly true for new releases as, if a stand does have an ingredients booklet, it won’t have been updated.

L'Oreal Paris False Lash Superstar X Fiber Mascara Review, beauty shopping with allergies

Honestly, the next time you want to buy something from a high street store, see if you can find the ingredients for it. Chances are, your won’t be able to find them. While some of the ingredients you can find, won’t be accessible because they’re underneath the hygiene plastic. Seriously, what is the point of that!?!If you really want to understand my frustration, walk out of the shop if you can’t find the ingredients without buying the product. It’s such a disheartening feeling. Obviously, go straight back in and buy what you want! Just get a feel for what it’s like to have to put back something you were really excited about.

Autumn Travel Makeup Bag, beauty shopping with allergies

Beauty Shopping With Allergies: You’ll Either End Up Squinting Or Carrying A Magnifying Glass!

Have you ever tried to read ingredients lists on beauty products? Most, particularly makeup are tiny. When I say tiny, I mean REALLY TINY! Tiny to the point where I’ve bought things that I can’t use because I’ve misread/not seen ingredients I’m allergic to. If you haven’t tried it already, check out the size of the text used on those stickers you find on makeup products. That’s if you can find them.

You’ll either end up squinting to read the ingredients on these tiny stickers (not helped by the shop’s fluorescent lights) or you’ll be forced to carry a magnifying glass around with you. I kid you not, my Mum bought me a magnifying glass card that fits in one of the card slots in my purse for the sole reason of making reading ingredients a little easier.

Autumn Travel Makeup Bag, beauty shopping with allergies

Beauty Shopping With Allergies: Hypoallergenic

I have a post all about what the term hypoallergenic means, so I’m not going to bore you with the specifics. All I’ll say here is that it means absolutely nothing. Unfortunately, staff working in both high street and high end retailers seem to thing that if a product is hypoallergenic, it’s suitable for everyone. Fact: There are a small percentage of people out there who are allergic to water. ANYTHING can be an allergen.

If you have allergies, you’ll get used to knowing more about the ingredients in products than counter makeup artists. I’ve lost count of the times that counter makeup artists have told me that a product is ‘hypoallergenic’ or ‘natural’ when I’ve asked to read the ingredients. I then have to explain that nuts, wheat and sesame seeds are all natural, but also have the potential to kill me. I’ll also have to explain that, although their products are ‘hypoallergenic’, many ‘hypoallergenic’ products contain these common allergens! More often than not when they give me the products to check, there will be some that contain these common allergens that I react to.

Favourite Rimmel Products, beauty shopping with allergies

Beauty Shopping With Allergies: People Will Try To Kill You

This might sound dramatic, but if your allergies cause you to go into anaphylactic shock (where your throat swells up and you can’t breath), this is a very real hazard. Have you ever had someone so determined to get you to try their product that they’ve put it on you before you can say no? I have. I’ve asked to see the ingredients first, only to be told that the product is ‘hypoallergenic’ or ‘natural’ as the sales assistant grabs my hand and puts their product on me. After a few disastrous reactions, I’ve learnt to move out of reach and put my hands behind my back in this situation.

Rose Gold Eye Look, beauty shopping with allergies

Beauty Shopping With Allergies: Just Google It!

Goggle is an amazing creature. You can find so much information at the click of a few keys. Unfortunately, ingredients for beauty products are often not one of them. Online only stores seem to be better at including ingredients on their website than those who also have physical stores. Next time you’re browsing the internet for makeup, just take a look a whether the website you’re using makes the ingredients list available. You’ll be shocked by what you find.

Favourite Maybelline Products, beauty shopping with allergies

Lots of websites have an ‘Ingredients’ tab without any ingredients in. I’ve yet to find the ingredients for Kat Von D’s makeup. None of the Debenhams stores near me have a counter. I either need to find a friend who has one of the liquid lipsticks and is willing to send me a photo of the ingredients, or I need to head down to the Oxford Street store in person. Living in Warwickshire and being a wheelchair user, makes this a logistical nightmare. Not to mention the added cost of the train fare to London.

Whenever I review a product, I try my hardest to include the ingredients at the bottom of my post. This is really helpful for those with allergies. It’s also beneficial to my blog. I’ve had referrals from Google where people have searched for ‘(insert product) ingredient list.’ You can find all my reviewed products with their ingredients lists under the ‘Reviewed Products‘ tab in my Navbar.

Favourite Nars Products

Beauty Shopping With Allergies: It’s Expensive

I got into high end makeup because I was struggling to find ingredients for high street products. It’s so frustrating to have to put a product you’re excited about back and then spend a long time trying to locate the ingredients of said product. Remember when Maybelline launched their Colour Sensational Vivid Matte Liquid Lipsticks? They launched almost a year ago and I still haven’t been able to track down a list of ingredients. Now this is partly because of my limited mobility. I can’t get to shops that are outside my town without help. However, at no time during this year have either of my local high street stores had the ingredients for these lipsticks available.And I’ve already spoken about how unhelpful the internet can be.

Most high end makeup comes in a box. Those boxes have the ingredients listed. In addition, high end counters have ingredients books. All you have to do is ask the staff nicely to take a look.

Christmas Makeup Bag, beauty shopping with allergies

Beauty Shopping With Allergies: You Have To Check Every Time You Buy

Think that once someone with allergies has found a product that suits them they can repurchase without reading the ingredients? Wrong! From time to time, brands change their ingredients. They do this with no warning/identification on their products and often the packaging is either identical or almost identical. My experience of the L’Oreal Skin Perfection Cleansing Wipes is a good example of this. So whenever I want to buy a beauty product, I HAVE to check the ingredients.

Were you aware how difficult beauty shopping with allergies could be?

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Beauty Shopping With Allergies

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Tania Jayne

  • It’s something that people who don’t have allergies don’t even think about. It must be difficult – are there brands that you know will suit you or do you have to check each individual product within each brand. How do you find out which exact ingredient you are allergic to? xx


    • Unfortunately, I have to check ingredients of every product regardless of brand. I’m yet to find a brand who don’t have products I can’t use in their range. It’s not easy, but at least I know what I’m allergic to (for the most part, lip products are the only exception). Most are foods I’m allergic to, such as wheat, nuts, citrus fruits and sesame seeds. Most of these were determined by a skin prick test, but some have been discovered through process of elimination after having an allergic reaction. Xx

  • Thanks for writing this. I did not realise that the term hypoallergenic is basically useless x

    • I didn’t either until I did the research after becoming frustrated at the number of ‘hypoallergenic’ products that contain common allergens. Xx

  • We’ve had conversations before about beauty products and what you are or aren’t able to use due to allergies so as with many things you highlight I’m more conscious and do find it ridiculous in this day and age that finding the ingredients of something you literally put on your face is a struggle.

    Victoria x

    • I love our conversations! You always take such a genuine interest and ask well thought out questions. Ridiculous is a good description. It’s such a shame that shops haven’t cottoned on to this, I can’t be the only person who can’t buy a product without seeing an ingredients list. Xx

  • I will be honest Tania as someone who doesn’t have any allergies to makeup this really opened my eyes. As soon as I started reading this post I immediately thought that all (or most) your makeup shopping must be done online so you can check what’s in the products, which is a shame as I know you would love to walk into a store and swatch like I (and lots of others) can. I’m just so glad the internet exists for you so you can check the ingredients – imagine what it was like years ago for people! I really hope makeup companies put somethings in place to make shopping easier and more enjoyable for you in the future xxx

    • It’s certainly not easy. The majority of my purchases are from places like Debenhams and Selfridges because all of the products have boxes with ingredients lists on. I tend not to shop online because it’s hard to find ingredients lists. Online only stores like Beauty Bay usually have ingredients lists, but I like to swatch products before I buy. Places like Debenhams, who have stores, often don’t include ingredients on their website. As a result, I’m yet to find out if I can buy anything from Kat Von D. High street stores are definitely the hardest to shop in. I really hope this changes in the near future. Xx

  • Thanks so much for sharing Tania, this was seriously eye opening. I don’t personally have any allergies to makeup (I am allergic to almonds, so that’s a bummer) but I feel you, one of my friends breaks out into hives whenever she applies makeup that’s not natural and organic. x
    Lots of love,
    Marina Rosie xx

    • I’m so glad you found the post interesting! I don’t think a lot of people realise that some foods (like wheat) are also used to make beauty products. And as a result, those of us allergic to these foods have to be careful of their beauty products (and medications, etc.). I’m glad your friend has found that she’s ok with natural and organic products, thought I can imagine that being very limiting for her and not easy to get hold of products. Xx

  • Wow, such a great post and really an eye opening. I guess if you don’t have any issues with allergies then you won’t really think much about it. I usually don’t have problems with makeup but I do have to be careful with my skincare but it must be very difficult for you. Like Leah mentioned below, I hope makeup companies put somethings in place to make shopping easier and more enjoyable for you and others with this problem. xx

    Ann-Marie | http://facetocurls.com

    • Thank you so much Ann-Marie! I think it’s the same with everything really. If you don’t experience something, either directly or indirectly through close friends and family, then you’re unlikely to be aware of it. We don’t spend our lives carrying out risk assessments for every activity we do. If we did, we’d never have time to do anything! I’m sorry to hear you have to be careful with skincare? Do you know which ingredients you need to avoid or do you have brands that you know are safe? Thank you so much, I really hope the shopping experience improves for those with allergies too. Xx

  • Loved this post! If I’m totally honest I haven’t really thought about how difficult makeup shopping might be for some people it’s for sure been eye opening. I can’t believe some sales assistants would put products on you without your permission, how bloody rude not to mention dangerous! Something definitely needs to be done about making ingredients in products clearer and more accessible, as a brand trying to sell something its their responsibility to ensure potential customers have access to a list of ingredients! its just careless and lazy for them to not supply lists etc to all retailers! -xo


    • Thank you so much Chloe! Some sales assistants are lovely, but others are awful. Even just when asking if they have ingredients lists. It’s frustrating that it’s a legal requirement to display ingredients, yet it isn’t in place in many stores. Xx

  • I love this! It’s so eye opening, as I never realised the struggle of makeup shopping with allergies! It’s so bad that sales assistants don’t seem to care either and just want to make a sale!xx

    Hannah | luxuryblush

    • Thank you! It’s one of those things you wouldn’t consider unless you’ve experienced it. I’ve been shocked by the lack of understanding and care from some sales assistants. Some have been fantastic and done everything possible to help, which is really lovely of them. Xx

  • I loved this post! I know from experience, I have such sensitive skin I have to watch what I use. This goes for foundations and more. Lipsticks I am fine with though no issues :)


    • Thank you so much! Do you know what you react to or do you have safe brands that you stick to? Xx

  • I should really look into this more! Thanks for sharing :)


    • I’m so glad you found the post interesting! Xx

  • Oh wow, I had absolutely no idea how difficult it was for you and everyone else with allergens to buy makeup products :( I really hope that this changes soon and the ingredients will be more readily available xx

    • It’s very frustrating! And so simple for brands and shops to fix too. Fingers crossed things improve. Xx

  • Leah

    I know what it’s like. I have ultra sensitive skin and am very allergic to scents. Even if something says UNSCENTED odds are it some form of scent. Try checking out 100% Pure. I haven’t had a reaction to any of their products. And they have a great customer service.

    • Yes! Companies seem to have a very funny idea of what unscented is. Almost everything has a scent to it, some natural and others artificial. Thank you for the recommendation. They seem to use a lot of fruits in their products, so I’m going to have to take some time and read ingredients, as I’m allergic to several fruits. But it’s great that they have their ingredients available on their website. Xx

  • I am so glad that you have put it out there, I am so fed up with companies that do not think about people with allergies, I have a latex allergy and there are sooo many skincare companies that use rubber droppers, i have emailed them till i am blue in the face. but no luck.
    One lady in the Body shop just said, decant the product or use a tissue to use the dropper, they have NO IDEA / concept of how an allergy work or how dangerous they are…… the business really needs to pull their socks up

    • Ugh! That must be so frustrating for you. I’m horrified but unfortunately not surprised that it was suggested that you decant a product. *rolls eyes* The product had already been in contact with the rubber dropper! You can’t undo that contamination. Gah! Really frustrates me how little many companies understand about allergies. Xx

      • Thank you, yeah they really need to re educate themselves :) It takes someone with allergies to understand :)