How to Tell If You Are Allergic to Your Lipstick

If you have never had to suffer a makeup allergy, consider yourself lucky. You never had to deal with the burning, the stinging, and the unbearable swelling of it all. However, with makeup allergies, there is none more tragic than having a reaction on your lips.

Well, okay, so having a reaction to your foundation is probably pretty devastating, but your lips are one of the first things you want people to notice. Of course, you don’t want them to notice them because they have swollen up to nearly twice their size. Thankfully, that is the worst case scenario. By recognizing the signs of even a mild lipstick allergy, you can not only prevent a lot of pain and suffering, but you can get back those healthy and amazing-looking lips.

Common Signs of a Lipstick Allergy

  • A Tingling or Burning Sensation. This is usually one of the first signs that women notice when they think they may have an allergic reaction to a specific lipstick. However, it is not always an allergy that causes a burning or tingling sensation on your lips. Many lipsticks as well as lip balms use capsaicin, the compound that causes the burning sensation in hot peppers, or peppermint oil to just lightly irritate the skin on your lips, giving it a plumping effect. However, if your lipstick is without either ingredient, then it is caused by a slight allergic reaction.
  • Itchiness. Yes, just like any other allergic reaction, if a lipstick is triggering one on your lips, they may start to itch like the dickens. It might not occur right away, but about an hour or two into wearing the lipstick, the itchiness will get progressively worse. Catch it early and clean your lips well or watch them swell horribly.
  • Swelling. After the burning and the itching comes the swelling. This is your body trying to fight off the reaction. The swelling can be very mild to increasingly serious. If the itching and tingling have started to spread into your mouth and throat, seek medical attention immediately for treatment. Swollen lips are embarrassing, but a swollen throat is deadly.
  • Skin Molting and Sweating. This is one of the lesser known symptoms and requires you to look in the mirror to notice. While lipstick might not yet trigger other reactions, one of the first signs that you are developing an allergy is if you wipe your lipstick off and a fair bit of your lip skin comes off with it. You may also notice some light sweat happening around your lips. This is typically accompanied by some discomfort because, well, your lipstick is killing the skin on your lips.
  • Stomach Cramps. This is a strange one, too, but since women ingest nearly four pounds of lipstick over their lifetime, it is only natural that some get ingested daily. If you are having a particularly bad reaction to your lipstick and already removed it, don’t be terrified if stomach cramps follow later.

Treating the Allergic Reaction

Before dealing with a lipstick allergy, if you are having an allergic reaction to lipstick, you are probably first going to want to get some relief from the symptoms. For relief, try any or all of these recommendations for allergies:

  • Wipe off the lipstick completely and with methods that don’t aggravate it further. Alcohol and aggressive scrubbing aren’t recommended.
  • Take antihistamines like Benadryl to help with the reaction. If severe enough, keep an Epi-Pen nearby or go to the emergency room.
  • Apply ice. This will not only help the swelling, but it will help relieve any pain or itchiness.
  • Apply aloe to soothe skin irritation.
  • Avoid any other potential lip irritants which include spicy foods and even lip balm.

How to Treat a Lipstick Allergy

  • Stop Using Your Lipstick. There is no “cure” for a lipstick allergy. It is something you will just have to live with. This doesn’t always mean skipping lipstick altogether, but the first step is to stop using the brand that is triggering the symptoms. Go without for a week or so just to let your lips heal up.
  • Identify the Allergen. This could take a while since for many women it works on a trial and error sort of basis. You want to try different lipsticks with different ingredients to try and narrow down what ingredients you are allergic to. A full list of common allergens can be found at the end of this article, but for example if you think you are allergic to lanolin, find a lipstick without it. If it works, you may be allergic to lanolin or maybe just another ingredient that is missing.
  • Treat Your Lips. After you have taken the time to figure out the allergy, it is time to completely heal your lips from the reaction. Allergic reactions to lipstick typically result in horribly chapped lips afterwards so you need to make sure to nourish them. However, avoid lip balms with “soothing” ingredients like peppermint oil, eucalyptus, or menthol for the time being. They may sooth normal chapped lips, but they will irritate your already aggravated lip skin.

Common Lipstick Allergy Triggers

    • Seafood or Fish Byproduct (If you have a shellfish allergy, go vegan to be safe)
    • Carmine
    • Lanolin
  • Beeswax
  • Parabens
  • Tocopheryl Acetate (AKA vitamin E acetate)
  • Retinyl Palmitate
  • Formaldehyde (Illegal now, but still look out for it in older makeup)
  • Fragrances
  • Synthetic Dyes
  • Heavy Metals
  • Phthalates
  • Capsaicin
  • Cinnamon (and other spices)
  • Food Oils (Soybean, Castor, Jojoba, etc)
  • Mica or Talc
  • Essential Oils