When we think about managing food allergies, we don’t tend to consider lipstick or lotion. But we should.
Walking down the aisle of my local co-op recently, I grabbed a tub of moisturizer labeled “tester” and applied a dab to my hand. I tried placing the scent, and when I couldn’t, turned the jar around and saw almond oil listed as the first ingredient. My stomach clenched, and a variant of “shoot” slipped from my mouth. I’m deathly allergic to tree nuts. I washed my hands immediately, and fortunately, I was fine. Historically, my worst skin exposure outcome is hives. However, given the unpredictability of allergic reactions, it’s still hard not to panic.
You’d think after all these years and several close calls I’d be more careful; but when it comes to skincare and beauty products, I routinely let down my guard. I shouldn’t.
Did I sufficiently give you a fright?
Good. Sometimes a little fear is a good thing. Especially when you’re talking about something as serious as an allergic reaction!
For the food allergic, even moderate skin exposure can be serious. Creams, soaps, oils, make-up, lipstick, and balms can also lead to small amounts of ingestion, so it’s important for those with food allergies and their loved ones to vet these items with the same diligence they do foods. Don’t forget vitamins, teas, and herbal supplements, too!
Beware the two S’s: spas and salons.
Planning a massage, manicure, or haircut? Make sure you tell your massage therapist or stylist to avoid products containing your allergen. This is especially true if you’re allergic to nuts—you’d be surprised how many spas and salons use nut oils. Just last month while getting my haircut I was surrounded by advertisements for the salon’s newest cherry almond shampoos and conditioners. Suffice it to say, I steered clear of this product line. 😉
FDA labeling laws and cosmetics.
Skincare and beauty products are not regulated in the same way that foods are for allergens—even if they contain a common allergenic ingredient!
The Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA), which we explore in an earlier blog, applies to FDA-regulated food products, not cosmetics and beauty products. Accordingly, these products do not need to adhere to FALCPA labeling requirements, although many brands list these ingredients anyway. Regardless, it’s worth taking note.
We hope this information hasn’t spooked you, although it is Halloween season! Rather, we hope this knowledge helps you stay informed and safe when managing your food allergies. So before you slather on some blood-red lipstick this All Hallow’s Eve, check that label!
Wishing you all a BOO-tiful Halloween! 👻🎃
– Abi and the Allergy Amulet Team