Food allergens in cosmetics is a guide which includes a list of alternative ingredient names in Latin and tips for purchasing beauty products with food allergies.
Labeling food allergens in cosmetics
If you have food allergies, a great deal of research is involved when selecting cosmetics. Product labeling can be misleading and ingredients are either listed with a scientific name, disguised in Latin or hidden under the term “natural” or “organic”.
The FDA requires the top 8 allergens to be identified and clearly listed as allergens in packaged foods but what about cosmetics?
Ingredients must be safe for consumers under labeled or customary conditions of use, and products must be properly labeled. However, unlike in the food industry, similar regulations do not exist for identifying common allergens in the beauty industry.
As a result, this means that it is the responsibility for people living with food allergies to best educate themselves about ingredients.
Why it’s important to know about food allergens in cosmetics
We use a range of beauty products, as soon as we wake up from toothpaste, to body wash, toner, eye cream, mascara or bronzer. When you understand what is in your products, you are armed with the knowledge of which skincare ingredients to avoid which helps reduce the risk of a reaction.
When food allergens are in cosmetics, it is not likely to lead to anaphylaxis but can cause you contact dermatitis. Toothpaste is different as it is absorbed into the gums and can cause a systemic reaction.
In conclusion, you will feel confident with a greater awareness of ingredients, consequently, empowered so that you can enjoy a makeup, skincare, and beauty routine.
If you have questions about ingredients or products, always first check with your medical team. This article is not intended as medical advice.
3 Tips for Purchasing Cosmetics
1. Get to Know Labels
- Ingredients are listed in ascending order with the first ingredient being the largest component of the product.
- Peel back labels to read every ingredient. Sometimes ingredients are hidden under labels!
- When in doubt, google each ingredient.
2. Patch Test
- Apply the new product behind the ear and the crook of your elbow which are the more sensitive parts of your body.
- If irritated, your skin will usually tell you within 24 hours
- Before and after application of product(s), take pictures to show your Allergist, in case of an allergic reaction.
- Samples can be requested online or at the store.
3. Research Ingredients and Plan Ahead
- Check ingredients on an ingredient checking app/website before making a purchase such as Paula’s Choice Ingredient Dictionary, INCIDecoder or EWG’S Skin Deep.
- Avoid wasting time and money by planning ahead and don’t shop for new products when you’re stressed, hungry or tired.
- Take a picture of the ingredients and contact customer service before purchasing product(s).
Alternative Names for Food Allergens in Cosmetics
This list is in alphabetic order and includes, but is not limited to 20 common food allergens in cosmetics, written in Latin and English. The following ingredients can be found in a wide range of beauty products such as skincare, cosmetics, haircare and oral care.
- Apple: Malus domestica, pyrus malus, pectin, malic acid, diisostearyl malate
- Banana: Musa sapientum fixa
- Celery: Apium, Apium graveolens
- Corn: frumentum. Zea Mays (corn starch) Beware of corn derivatives- corn silk extract, potassium cornate, hydrolyzed corn starch, corn protein, corn acid, and corn glycerides.
- Dairy: also known aslac/ caprae lac. Milk derivatives may be hard to decipher, so look out for: lactoferrin, colostrum and lactoperoxidase.
- Egg: ovum/ova also lysozyme is an egg derivative.
- Fish: piscum lecur/ piscis. Skincare brands claim that the fatty acids in fish oil can supply hydration and help with inflammation.
Other “fishy” ingredients:
- uanine- found in crushed fish scales. It’s a crystalline material that can sometimes be found in nail polish, mascara and lipstick.
- Squalene improves the appearance of texture, tone and skin elasticity and can be found in high concentrations from shark liver. Now there are vegan alternatives such as olives and rice bran which are equally effective.
- Kiwi: Actinidia deliciosa
- Lupin: lupinus albus. Known to help improve collagen firmness and elasticity
- Mustard: brassica alba/sinapis alba
- Pea: pisum sativum
- Peaches: persicorum
- Peanut: arachide or arachic oil, arachis, arachis hypogea
- Sesame: sesamum indicum
- Shellfish: also known as: chitosan, or chitin is a sugar that is obtained from the hard outer skeleton of shellfish, including crab, lobster and shrimp/prawn.
- Soy: glycine max/ glycine soja.
- Sulphites: also known as: sodium sulphite, potassium metabisulphite.
- Found in: anti-aging skincare treatments. Sulphites are used in various forms: hair coloring treatments, perfumes and eye drops. Used in topical medications.
- Sunflower Seed: (oil) helianthus semen oleum/ helianthus annuus is the oil expressed from the seeds of the sunflower, helianthus annuus.
- Tree Nuts: Including but not limited to:
- Sweet almond oil: prunus amygdalus dulcis
- Bitter almond oil: Prunus amygdalus amara, mandelic acid
- Argan Nut including Argan Oil: Argania spinosa
- Brazil nut: bertholletia excelsa
- Cashew- anacardium occidentale
- Chestnut: castanea sativa
- Coconut: cocos nucifera, coconut acid, hydrogenated coconut oil, coconut alcohol, butylene glycol cocoate, caprylic/capric/coco glycerides, coconut oil decyl esters, decyl cocoate
- Hazelnut/Filbert: corylus rostrata/avellana
- Macadamia: macadamia ternifolia, m. integrifolia
- Pecan (Hickory): carya illinoinensis
- Pine Nut: pinus pinea
- Pistachio: pistacia vera
- Shea: Vitellaria paradoxa
- Walnut: juglans regia/ nigra
- Wheat: triticum vulgare, hordeum vulgare (barley), secale cereale (rye), avena sativa (oat).
Alternative Names for Food Allergens in Beauty Products Cheat Sheet
References and Links:
*Note: This article was reviewed by our medical advisor, Dr. Payel Gupta
Indorato, Debra A. RD, LDN, March 2015, “Peanut Allergy Avoidance List”, Kids with Food Allergies.org
Burcham, Chloe, Nov. 1 2020, “Ingredient Checkers: Websites to Check Your Beauty Products, Byrdie.com
Wong, Sharon, May 30, 2019, “Food Allergies 101: Latin Names For Food Allergens, Nut Free Wok.com
G, Alex, January 27, 2019, “14 allergens in Cosmetics”, Allergy Insight.com
U.S Food & Drug Administration, 02/21/2016, “What Nuts are Considered Tree Nuts”, FDA.Gov
More Allergy-Free Cosmetics Tips
Keila has worked in the beauty industry for 14 years. A makeup artist, skincare expert and owner of Keila Alleyne Beauty, she has multiple food allergies. Keila launched her allergy-friendly lipgloss and lipstick collection in 2015.