Allergic Reactions + How I Figure Them All Out

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One of the most frustrating things is having an allergic reaction to something and trying to figure out WHAT triggered it. Thankfully this only happens to me once in a blue moon, but recently I found myself wondering what the heck is making me break out on my cheeks.

So this post will go into how *I* figure out what the culprit is in an effort to steer you in the direction of figuring out a similar situation for yourself. Do note that although this blog is called The Style and Beauty Doctor, I am NOT a medical professional and you should not treat my postings and/or videos as medical advice. (Yeah, ya’ll might laugh but if you see some of the emails I’ve gotten in the past you’d understand why I had to put out that disclaimer…lol)

Also BIG NOTE: your best bet with treating allergic reactions is to talk to your actual doctor.

Background


(My reaction-free cheeks. Note: the difference in skin color is due to different lighting situations in each instance)

I know my skin typically has an aversion to certain liquid matte foundation formulas. I realized this when I tried NARS Sheer Matte, MAC Studio Fix Fluid, and a Black Opal foundation I tried back in the day. So I steer clear of those and tread very lightly with others to make sure I don’t have a similar reaction. I used to be able to trace the common ingredient in all of those foundations that was likely the culprit in my allergic reaction, but I forgot what it was (some sort of cone but then I later saw that same cone was in other formulas I could use without any issue). Also brands sometimes change formulas so I just tread lightly with liquid matte foundations (those that are a little more creamy in texture like the beautyblender Bounce foundation and Cover FX Power Play seem to be fine for me).

And again, I don’t often have allergic reactions, but they can happen. Recently I’ve noticed some breakouts on my cheeks that I know are definitely not pimples. I’ve seen breakouts like this before and in my own experience, they’ve typically been an allergic reaction to something. So here’s a look into my process.


These are the breaks *Kurtis Blow voice*

My process

I google

Now this is something you want to proceed with caution on. You can google and wind up on sites that aren’t credible that give out false information. You can wind up thinking you have a deadly disease which can increase anxiety and your blood pressure (like dang, I thought I got irritated by a makeup brush and now I got hypertension smh). So of course only go on reputable sites and take what you read with a grain of salt.

But I google because perhaps there might be a piece of the puzzle that I missed. Like maybe someone ate a bunch of dairy or something and noticed breakouts on their cheeks (I’m just using this an example). So instead of overreacting and throwing out all of my skincare and makeup, maybe I’ll instead finally stop eating all those Haagen Dazs ice cream bars I claimed I’d quit (again, just using this an example—not saying Haagen Dazs will break you out).

I analyze my routine

What did I recently add in? What am I doing different? Am I coming in contact with materials that might be irritating to my skin?

I go through everything. Am I using a different detergent on my pillowcases that could cause the breakout? Am I sleeping in a different position (I usually sleep on my back but have been falling asleep on my side lately. I’ve also been falling asleep on the couch and that material isn’t as smooth as my satin pillowcase).

I almost always use my headset when I talk on the phone, but for some people who get pimples in the cheek and chin area, it could be from a dirty cellphone. But I have an allergic reaction, not acne. (I mean, I do get acne, but this post is about the allergic reaction…lol).

I also go through my beauty products. What did I recently add in? Then I take all the newest additions out one by one and take note of what happens with my skin to help me narrow down the culprit.

I even suspect it could be my blush brush because it has been feeling particularly prickly these days and that friction could be a factor. Plus the breakouts fall right in the line of where my blush brush glides on my cheeks. My skin tends to be more sensitive to abrasions vs product. For instance, any time my face comes in contact with some dude’s facial hair, it gets hot, breaks out in bumps, and sometimes turns red. Good to know, but bad for my dudes-with-beards fantasies…lol

I’ve been testing a different cleanser and also tried a new serum. Could that be it? I’ll find out when I do my “take it out and slowly put it back in” test.

I was also PMS-ing when I started to notice the breakouts. Those hormones on top of something else could be the culprit.

I don’t go ham trying to fix it

One may have an impulse to use a bunch of product to treat the allergic reaction. Me, I just chill and use less product and give it time to subside on its own. Last thing I need is to add MORE product and overcomplicate things and irritate my skin even more. Keep in mind that if it doesn’t seem to be going away on its own, consult your doctor.

I DO however quarantine. I wash all my makeup brushes, get rid of old beautyblenders, make sure my Clarisonic brush head isn’t more than three months old, rewash all facial towels, rewash my pillowcases and linens, etc. I do this because if the culprit is some sort of beauty product, I want to make sure there isn’t traces of it on my stuff. Last thing I need is to reintroduce my skin to whatever it is that caused the reaction.

Avoid the culprit
It might take some time to figure out the culprit, but once I do, I’ll avoid it.

What’s next?

I’ve taken quite a number of items and activities that I suspect might be culprits out of my routine and the breakouts have since subsided. But I also just finished my period as well (could be just a coincidence though). I’ll slowly add things back in my routine and see if one of those were the culprit. I’ll do an updated post down the line, so make sure you’re subscribed to this blog so you don’t miss it!

Are you allergic to any beauty products? Tell me all about it in the comments!

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About Danielle

A former finance girl, Danielle is a New York City based freelance writer and fashion and beauty expert. She's a Hofstra University and Fashion Institute of Technology grad with an obsession with fashion and beauty which she loves to tell you all about every weekday on her award-winning blog. Think of her as your style and beauty entourage all wrapped up into one bubbly brown package. Danielle's work and expertise can be found in print and across the web in Cosmopolitan for Latinas, Allure.com, and more! She's also appeared as an on-air style and beauty expert on The Real, CBS New York's "The Couch" and WPIX11's Savvy Shopper segment.
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4 Responses to Allergic Reactions + How I Figure Them All Out

  1. Anon says:

    I had something similar. I thought it was acne or an allergic reaction come to find out I had fungal acne. Look it up certain ingredients promote the spread of fungal acne. Im in the process of eliminating and treating fungal acne. Its a battle so far.

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