You are allergic to preservatives in cosmetics. Now what?

You have been shown to be allergic to one or more of the following preservatives by your dermatologist:

1,2-Benzisothiazolin-3-One 2-Bromo-2-Nitropropane-1,3-Diol Diazolidinyl Urea Formaldehyde Imidazolidinyl Urea Methyldibromo Glutaronitrile Methyl(Chloro)Isothiazolinone Parabenen (Butylparaben, Ethylparaben, Methylparaben, Propylparaben) Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate Quaternium-15

These common preservatives listed above can cause or exacerbate eczema. It certainly makes sense to avoid these substances to which you are allergic.

They are not everyday terms and quite difficult to remember: use your QR reader on your mobile – scan – save it.

Preservative List

Why are preservatives used?

Products such as cosmetics, food, medicines that contain water can become contaminated with bacteria and fungi. This will spoil the product faster. To prevent this, a manufacturer adds one or more preservatives to kill bacteria and fungi.

Where are preservatives most common?

Preservatives are found in all products containing water. The main causes of allergic contact eczema due to preservatives are in cosmetics and toiletries. Especially cosmetic products that remain on the skin (“leave-on products”) such as ointments, cream, body milk and lotion, balm, aftershave, sunscreen products and wet toilet tissues.

Products such as toiletries that are quickly rinsed off the skin after use (“rinse off products”) such as soap, shampoo, bubble bath and shower gel rarely cause problems. Not even in patients who are allergic to the preservatives used. For perfume, foam makers in toiletries is a different story.

Household products such as dishwashing liquids, liquid detergents, fabric softener often contain preservatives. Since these products are strongly diluted with water when used. The contact with the skin is relatively short, they will rarely cause complaints. Not even in allergic patients.

Prescribed medical creams, ointments, eye and ear drops, and over-the-counter plant-based creams and “alternative” liniments also contain preservatives such as parabens.

How do you recognize an allergic contact dermatitis?

It consists of a red, scaly but especially itchy rash in places where the skin comes into contact with the preservative-containing product. Sometimes pimples can also be seen and the skin can be wet. The method of use of a product determines the place on the skin where the eczema will develop: on the face and neck in the case of a cream, all over the body with a body lotion or milk, under the armpits with a deodorant cream and around the anus with wet toilet tissues.

How can I test it myself at home?

The indication of the INCIs (composition) is mandatory on cosmetics and toiletries. But if you have products at home and you don’t know if you are allergic to them, you can do the ROAT


It stands for Repeated open Application Test (ROAT), it is used to investigate whether you have an allergy to a certain (skin care) product. The advantage of the ROAT is that you can easily perform it at home, without having to visit a dermatologist. However, if a skin reaction develops, ALWAYS have it evaluated by your dermatologist.

How do you do the ROAT test at home?

Apply a thin layer of one product in one elbow fold twice a day for 14 consecutive days.

No skin reaction after 2 weeks = no allergy

Redness, itching and/or scaling = allergy

Products such as toothpaste, shampoo, soap and bubble bath are not suitable for ROAT.

More about ROAT

Roat Allergic Preservatives Allergy Test

While you’re here

The skin flakes, it is dry and itchy. What is this, do I have eczema or very dry skin? There are a number of clues to distinguish between these two skin conditions.

The major difference between dry skin and eczema is the presence of inflammation (inflammation). In eczema, the skin barrier does not work properly, resulting in moisture loss from the skin and disturbances in the top layer of skin (epidermis). If your skin is red, itchy, and flaky, it’s probably more than just dry skin and you probably have eczema.

Another important clue between eczema and dry skin is that eczema gets worse if not treated properly. It can then lead to other complaints such as tears, cracks, skin thickening and intense itching. People with eczema are also more prone to skin infections due to a disrupted skin barrier.

More about this: Do I have eczema or very dry skin?

Picture of Dr. Francis Wu

Dr. Francis Wu

Dr. Francis Wu, een vooraanstaande dermatoloog, is de drijvende kracht achter Iconic Elements. Hij heeft sinds 2004 zijn expertise ingezet om een veilige en effectieve huidverzorgingslijn te creëren, geschikt voor zowel gezonde huid als huidproblemen. Iconic Elements, opgericht in 2016, is de eerste brede skincare lijn in Nederland ontwikkeld door een dermatoloog. Als medisch specialist streeft Dr. Wu naar het bevorderen van het welzijn van mensen door hoogwaardige en effectieve huidverzorgingsproducten te bieden. De proefdiervrije en vegan producten vermijden schadelijke chemicaliën en bevatten natuurlijke ingrediënten.
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