The Allergens in Cosmetics

  • A. C. de Groot
  • J. W. Weyland


Systematic investigation of the allergens in cosmetics has rarely been performed. In this study by the Dutch Contact Dermatitis Group, the allergens responsible for cosmetic allergy were identified in 119 patients (102 women, 17 men; age 12–78 years; average age 36 years). More than half of all reactions were caused by skin care products (n = 67, 56%). Next came nail cosmetics (n = 16, 13%), followed by perfumes (n = 10, 8%), hair cosmetics (n = 7, 6%), deodorants (n = 6, 5%), and lip cosmetics (n = 5, 4%). Of the 119 patients, 81 (68%) were tested with all the ingredients of the suspected cosmetic products, and 38 (32%) were tested with 1 or more allergens known to be present in cosmetics used. A total of 53 cosmetic allergens were found (Table 1). The most frequent contact allergen was Kathon CG, causing reactions in 33 patients (28%). Second most frequent was toluene sulfonamide/formal-dehyde resin, causing reactions in 15 patients (13%), followed by unspecified fragrances (n = 15, 13%) and oleamidopropyl dimethylamine (n = 13, 11%). The classes of cosmetic allergens are shown in Table 1. Due to the large number of patients reacting to Kathon CG, preservatives were the most important category implicated, with 47 reactions (32%), followed by fragrances with 39 reactions (27%) and emulsifiers (mostly oleamidopropyl dimethylamine) with 21 reactions (14%).

Key words

Cosmetic allergy Ingredient patch testing 


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  1. 1.
    De Groot AC, Bruynzeel DP, Bos JD, van der Meeren HLM, van Joost T, Jagtman BA, Weyland JW (1988) The allergens in cosmetics. Arch Dermatol 124: 1525–1529.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. C. de Groot
    • 1
  • J. W. Weyland
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of DermatologyCarolus & Willem-Alexander HospitalMD’s HertogenboschThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Department of CosmeticsFood Inspection ServiceAT EnschedeThe Netherlands

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