Zocdoc Answers

Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors

"How do you know if you're allergic to cosmetics?"


I recently tried a new type of makeup, and it seemed like it gave me a really bad reaction on my face. But because I have sensitive skin, I had tried a patch test on my arm already, and my arm was fine. Does that mean it actually wasn't the makeup?


It is still quite likely that the new cosmetic that you used provoked a reaction on your face. Anytime that you develop a 'bad reaction' - redness, itching, blistering, or similar skin findings - in the setting of a new cosmetic or personal care product, it is highly likely that that product is the culprit. It is possible for you to have a reaction on your face and not on the skin of your arm.

See a doctor who can help

Find a Dermatologists near you

This is because the skin of the face is more sensitive, thinner, and also more likely to be already irritated then the skin on your arm. For example, frequent washing, scrubbing, and the application of skin products to the face may predispose that skin to a more severe reaction to a new product. Also, increased sun exposure on the face may play a role in making the skin their more irritated. You should discontinue the product and wait to see if the reaction improves. If you need to, you can apply a facial moisturizer to reduce dryness and irritation or you may try an over the counter anti-itch creme for the reaction. If things are not improving with these measures, you should consider seeing your primary care doctor.

Zocdoc Answers is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.