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GIORNALE ITALIANO DI DERMATOLOGIA E VENEREOLOGIA

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Official Journal of the Italian Society of Dermatology and Sexually Transmitted Diseases
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Giornale Italiano di Dermatologia e Venereologia 2007 December;142(6):673-7

language: English

Cosmetic allergens

Goossens A.

Contact Allergy Unit Department of Dermatology K.U. Leuven, Leuven, Belgium


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This article gives a review on cosmetic allergens, the most important culprits being fragrances and preservative agents. Since routine patch testing with the fragrance mix in the standard series detects only part of all fragrance-sensitive individuals, testing with additional markers such as fragrance-mix II is being recommended. With preservatives, important shifts in allergenicity have occurred over the years, and their spectrum varies considerably from country to country. Although the methyl(chloro)isothiazoline mixture has been recommended to be used in rinse-off products only, it may still be found in leave-on products on the market and allergenic reactions from it seem to be rising. Methyldibromo glutaronitrile has been banned from use in cosmetics since March 2007 by the European Union (EU). Other potential (and often overlooked) cosmetic sensitizers are emulsifiers and/or vehicle components. Examples are: alkyl glucosides, e.g. decyl glucosides (also a component of the sunscreen agent methylene bis-benzotriazolyl tetramethylbutylphenol); copolymers, such as PVP/eicosene and PVP/hexadecane copolymers; ethylhexyl-glycerin (synonymous: octoxyglycerin); butylene glycol and pentylene glycol, widely used because of their solvent, humectant and antibacterial effects. With regard to hair dyes, other potential allergens than p-phenylenediamine and p-toluenediamine (may also induce immediate-type reactions) have been identified. (Meth)acrylates are causing reactions to artificial nails preparations, both in clients and, particularly, in manicurists. Last but not least, natural ingredients, among which plant extracts and herbal remedies, have become very popular in recent years: they should be avoided by fragrance-sensitive subjects.

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