Many people complain of being sensitive to chemicals or even having allergic reactions. So as a formulator you’ll want to avoid using ingredients that might cause a problem in a significant number of people.
So what are those ingredients?
Fortunately, most of them are not things that you would put in cosmetic formulas (although there are a couple).
Here is a list of the top 10 allergens as compiled by the International Academy of Cosmetic Dermatology.
1. Nickel sulfate – Not used in cosmetics
2. Neomycin Sulfate – This is an antibiotic used in creams. Not a concern in cosmetics.
3. Balsam of Peru – Natural is not always safer and this natural ingredient is proof. Avoid using it in your cosmetic formulas.
4. Fragrance ingredients – These are used in cosmetics. There is a list of 26 allergens that most commonly cause problems. It’s hard to formulate without them but it can be done.
5. Thiomerosal – Preservative not used in cosmetics
6. Sodium gold thiosulfate – not used in cosmetics
7. Quaternium-15 – This is a preservative which you should avoid. If you want an ingredient that works as well without the problems try DMDM Hydantoin.
8. Formaldehyde – Cosmetic chemists avoid this ingredient anyway.
9. Bacitracin – Antibiotic. Not used in cosmetics
10. Cobalt Chloride – not used in cosmetics
So, there you have it. One other ingredient that might cause some concern is Oxybenzone (used in sunscreens). To minimize your chances of causing a reaction in one of your consumers, avoid using any of the ingredients above that might cause an allergic reaction.
And if you are marketing to a consumer group that is particularly sensitive, you’ll have to really limit the type of fragrances you use. You can still use them, you just can’t use any of the 26 common fragrance allergens.