My products caused allergic reaction. Please help!

Hello All,

My product caused a severe allergic reaction. I am absolutely devastated, mostly because I don't understand what is wrong. It is a pretty generic moisturiser with not much of active ingredients. May I kindly ask you to review the ingredients list and suggest what ingredient could cause it? 

Phase INCI %
A Aqua 72%
A Tetrasodium EDTA 0.1%
A Butylene Glycol 4.0%
A Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract (In Glycerin) 3.0%
A Propanediol 1.0%
A Xanthan Gum 0.1%
A Sodium Hyaluronate (SLMW) 0.2%
B Squalane 3.0%
B Rosa Canina Fruit Oil 2.0%
B Camellia Kissi Seed Oil 1.0%
B Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter 2.0%
B Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil 1.0%
B Dimethicone 2.0%
B Cetearyl Alcohol 2.0%
B Cetyl Alcohol 1.0%
B Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer (Sepinov Emt) 0.7%
B Glyceryl Stearate/Peg100 Stearate 3.0%
C Paraben Du (Propylparaben, Methylparaben, Diazolidinyl Urea, Propylene Glycol) 0.4%
C Tocopheryl Acetate 0.5%
C Sodium Carbomer 0.2%
C Polysorbate 20 0.1%
C Bisabolol 0.1%
C Tocopherol 0.3%
C Resveratrol (Powder) 0.2%
C Ubiquinone 0.1%
Citric Acid qs
More information. This product is "inspired" by Chanel Sublimage La Creme (excluded several extracts and peptides that don't do much, replaced vanilla planifolia fruit oil to rosa canina friut oil, replaced aristoflex to sepinov and added ubiquinone, bisabolol and resveratrol). I and several friends have been using it for 4 months with no reaction, but it caused a severe reaction (like a chemical burn) in one person. 

Thank you very much in advance.


  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    Well, it could be a lot of things. Any individual can develop an allergic reaction to pretty much anything (even water).

    But my suspects would be...

    Rosa Canina Fruit Oil
    Camellia Kissi Seed Oil
    Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oi
    Licorice extract
  • Hello,
    Maybe there is not enough preservatives and the product got deteriorated with time. Another reason maybe an individual allergic reaction to a rosehip oil, like for many other Rose derivatives. How many customers complained about the allergic reaction? 
    The last one I can think of and the less likely, is a reaction to glabridin found in Licorice root (why do u need it here?). It inhibits melanogenesis and an exposure to sun light could cause some unrests, if not used any sun protection. But as I said, it's not likely...
  • Thank you @Perry, I am suspecting either Ubiquinone or Rosa Canina Fruit oil... Five people including me have been using this moisturiser for a couple of months, and no adverse reaction at all.
  • @BCBull, I don't think the preservative is an issue. I am making skincare for myself, family and friends. That particular batch was made one month before the person tried it and had a reaction. Also I have been using the same exact batch myself since then. The reaction happened after the moisturiser was applied at night. She felt a light burning but ignored it and fell asleep and woke up to severe rash everywhere she applied it. So, probably has nothing to do with the sun exposure. The reason I had licorice root, is pretty much the fact that I was copying an existing product (Chanel Sublimage) that has it. What I changed to their formula is replaced one of the oils to rosa canina, added bisabolol, resveratrol and ubiquinone. I don't have any colorants and fragrances in it. The pH of the product is 6... She has just confirmed that she is using rosa canina oil from The Ordinary (pure oil) and has no reaction. So, probably ubiquinone or bisabolol...
  • So, like Perry said, it can be for any one of the ingredients listed, especially if you talking about only one case. Anyway, I would recommend to ask your clients to try your new products in some sensitive place, like behind the ear, before they start using it. This is from my many years experience in cooperating with a cosmeticians )))). About Bisabolol, can't remember any case caused an allergic to anyone, on a contrary, it often used as a soothing, anti-itching component.
  • ngarayeva001ngarayeva001 Member
    edited September 2018
    Thank you @BCBull. I will be asking everyone to do a patch test after this! I really hope it is one-off case. But since my sample size is only 7 people I can not be sure.
  • Do bigger batch and check if there'll be more victims ))))
  • @BCBull, I might consider it after I contempate this failure :smiley: but I will definitely exclude ubiquinone.
  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    Bisabolol is not the most likely but there have been cases -
  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    The fact that there was no adverse reaction in the past is not a guarantee that there won't be an adverse reaction in the future. Many substances take multiple exposures before a reaction to them occur.
  • @Perry, this is exactly what I am afraid of. Sorry to bother you with this, but does this product seem propery formulated to you in general? I thought I followed all rules but I am questioning everything now.
  • You can try substituting exotic oils for plain ones that don't usually cause allergy, to see if it helps.
  • @ngarayeva001, for me the formula looks nice, except too many different thickeners: xanthan gum, carbomer, acrylates together with cetyl/cetearyl alcohol. I guess it's pretty heavy. I would consider excluding some of them, like xanthan gum and/or carbomer.
  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    Overall, it looks like a fine enough formula. A bit more complicated with many more ingredients than I would use (for example, it seems pointless to use Xanthan Gum & Sodium Carbomer & Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer when one would do)  But there is nothing glaringly wrong with it. 

    Just remember, the more ingredients you use the higher the chance that something in it will cause an allergic reaction. 
  • Thak you @BCBull. It's actually very close to the benchmark product. Mine is even a bit lighter. I think I will exclude xantham gum though. It never adds elegance to the application.
  • @Perry thank you very much. I don't use so much thickeners and polymers when I create my own formula. This one was an attempt to copy an existing product (with minor changes). Took me countless number of attempts (probably more than 40) to achieve the benchark product's texture and application. Sodium Carbomer was the deal breaker. But I will exclude xantham, it's not required, they just had it, so I added it.
  • @ngarayeva001 they porbably had a small amount of xanthan from one of the many extracts you mentioned them using.

    I have one question though, do you know for sure it was an allergic reaction and not just and irritant reaction? It could be both, but allergy requires multiple exposures to the product and sensitisation to the compound as it involves the adaptive immune system, whereas irritant dermatitis does not.

    You could give her small samples of the raw materials and get her doctor to perform a petch test and determine what she responds to, and if it is truly an allergic reaction.
    Dabbling Formulator — Qualified Cosmetic Safety Assessor — experienced in claim substantiation & EU regulatory affairs.
  • @Sibech thank you. You are right I can’t be sure what it was, and agree, it takes time to develop an allergy. It just looked similar to allergy to me: rash, swelling under eyes etc.
  • @ngarayeva001 It could be an allergy, my point is merely it is difficult to tell the difference without training (even with training it may require testing). The rash pattern is usually what visualises what kind of dermatitis it is.

    In some cases allergic CD may take longer to present after exposure (24-72 hours) but it can also be more or less instant.

    I've attached an article from Cosmetics (MDPI open access Journal) on trends in the occurrence of contact allergy to cosmetics during a 25-year period, and the cosmetic allergens detected in patients tested in 2010–2015.

    Dabbling Formulator — Qualified Cosmetic Safety Assessor — experienced in claim substantiation & EU regulatory affairs.
  • Thank you very much for the article @Sibech
Sign In or Register to comment.