I figured out at least four years ago that I was allergic to something in my facial care routine. My skin on the apples of my cheeks would become red, flaky, and raw, and my eyes would itch. I tore out my eyelashes to try to stop the itch. I tried removing parabens because they were a common cause of many peoples’ allergies by switching my face wash, face cream, mascara, eyeliner, and eyeshadow. Although it didn’t make the eye itch go completely away, and my face still got raw at times, it seemed to help. I eventually stopped wearing makeup altogether, other than a small number of curated products for special occasions only.
With all of the product removals, it wasn’t until I visited the ENT about my constantly infected sinuses and was prescribed Nasonex that my eye itching reduced significantly. I also used a sinus rinse (neti pot). Unfortunately, I was still encountering something that caused itchiness many places where I went, and the Nasonex’s efficacy decreased over time, leading to higher and higher doses.
I contacted my municipality to try to determine why my face would get raw, and they alerted me to the fact that chlorine concentrations in the water supply are often increased after heavy rains, and that could cause sensitive individuals to react. The best (but most expensive) solution to this particular problem is filters on your water taps or a whole home filtration system. Learn more about this option here.
I tried creating my own facial mud light scrub/mask/pack using raw ingredients I already had, but it didn’t seem to help. Using oils to cleanse worked, and I found a blend of red raspberry seed oil (antioxidants and calming) and jojoba oil (moisturizing) that was nice. Simply rinse your face with water and then put a few drops on a cotton ball and wipe your face. As the seasons changed, my proportions of moisturizing oils vs calming oils adjusted accordingly as well – summer heat and heavy moisturization don’t go well together. Eventually this became too much work and I stopped using face wash or lotion at all, instead working from the theory that water to wash would leave enough good oils on my face to eventually balance out and prevent me needing face cream.
I have also had decent success with the following commercial creams:
On the recommendation of other allergy sufferers, I tired Eucerin’s Aquaphor Ointment, but I found it suffocating on my skin. I also think I may be sensitive to mineral oil, which this product contains.
Up until this point, I still hadn’t found the true cause of my allergies. My eyes began to act up severely this past July. I thought maybe I was allergic to some grain or soy, but after three weeks of avoidance, two of them camping, my eyes were still swollen, flaky, itchy, and red. My lips were still raw, peeling, and dry. At that point I realized there was something more serious happening. It took a month after arriving back home before I came across methylisothiazolinone. The symptoms and triggers fit, although that wasn’t the entire picture. Chlorine was also an issue, and a number of other chemicals, but I didn’t learn this until later. I still wash with water.
The Nasonex is gone, and the neti pot is now a regular part of my life. Cromolyn eye drops are also my go-to medication for eye itching. They are one of the few medicated eye drops out there that don’t create dependence or have any serious side effects, which is why they’re available off the shelf in Canada. Another bonus – no doctor’s visit required. They can be used up to four times a day, and I find they can help both prevent eye itching if applied right before it starts and get rid of it once it’s begun. I also use minute quantities of ProTopic on my face, only when I am going out in public or am experiencing symptoms.
All in all, I am still experimenting with allergy treatments, but I am much happier with my facial care routine, and it’s fairly light on the pocketbook, which is a bonus. If I can finally get my allergy under control, I do hope that I’ll eventually be able to add some makeup back into my life, but for now I’m focusing on being well.
Which facial products have you had success using?