Food allergy and cosmetics — a round up

Rather than repeat the current issues and discussions concerning food allergens and cosmetics / skincare products here, I’ll instead direct readers to my latest article for Skins MatterFood Allergens in Cosmetics: Where do we go from here? — which addresses the current state of play, and what we in the allergy community might be able to do to improve matters for all.

The article came about following discussions held at the judging for the Free From Skincare Awards 2022 last month. It was perhaps fitting too that the eventual overall champion, SenSpa’s Relaxing Talc Free Body Powder (pictured right), was free from all 14 declarable food allergens.

The article itself gives some guidance on how to spot food allergens in skincare products, discusses some points of conflict between food labelling and cosmetic labelling, and outlines some of the small measures we will look to undertake at the FFSA to try to improve the imperfect situation for those with food allergies.

I have written a lot about this subject, so here is a round-up of those articles for anyone with further interest or needing guidance:

14 Allergens in Cosmetics — an article providing the Latin terms for all 14 declarable food allergens as they may appear on cosmetics labelling, with examples of usage, including some products too.

Allergen Free Skincare — No such thing, of course, but a few years ago I put together a round-up of ‘high tolerance’ toiletries which contain very few allergens. NB. This was not specifically written with food allergens in mind, so check ingredients if you are thinking of buying any.

Cosmetics Allergies — a page on this site devoted to allergies to cosmetics, and the various kinds there are, including to preservatives, nickel and PPD. There is a list of Latin food allergens (including some outside the top 14) at the foot.

Cosmetics Allergies — Time for regulation change? — A post in response to a call for cosmetics labelling to mirror food labelling when it comes to allergens declaration.

Free From Labelling: new rules and guidance — A deep dive into the vexed issue of ‘Free From’ labelling on skincare products. It may well be baffling to those more familiar with the free from food industry that this is a highly controversial area in cosmetics, with sometimes confused efforts to restrict the statements beauty brands can make on their products.

Allergens in Toothpaste — oral care products are cosmetics too, and given how they are used, are of particular concern to those with allergies.

If you’d like me to cover any other specific issue when it comes to cosmetics and food allergies, do let me know in the comments.


  1. Jayne Steer

    This is fabulous. I am fed up of the funny looks that I get from people when I am looking at cosmetics labels trying to decipher if there are nuts/peanuts present. Now I can give them a list

    1. Alex G (Post author)

      Thanks, Jayne. Do you mean staff working at e.g. a beauty counter? That’s an interesting point, if so, because they should, in an ideal world, be trained to have some basic ‘allergy awareness’, but I bet this rarely happens.

  2. Linda S Napier

    I’m allergic to Aspirin so I was wondering what foods might correlate with aspirin ingredients that I may be sensitive to. I went to the allergist after my neck had been itching for 3 months and he gave me a skin test with 80 foods. Only one came up red. Histamine. I thought it was food but he said no, then I was wondering if it’s a buildup in your system that finally breaks through that can cause the itching and not show up with just one little test as me being allergic to it. Sorry that’s a long question.

    1. Alex G (Post author)

      So on skin-prick tests there is always a histamine one – as well as a water one – as controls to show that you are responding correctly. Histamine should *always* cause a reaction; and water should *never* cause a reaction. This goes for all people. So it’s just to ensure that the process is working correctly. You should think absolutely nothing of it, in my view. It’s meaningless in the context of food allergy. That said, aspirin sensitivity would suggest possible salicylate sensitivity. Salicylates are aspirin-like compounds found in some plant foods, such as berries. I’ve not written much about salicylates – and the area is a little controversial. I touched upon it in this article on sal-free cosmetics: Best wishes, Alex.


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