• Thu, Feb 16 2012

I’m Allergic To Mascara

The problem with my eyeballs began about three years ago. I was getting over an emotional phase that can be summed up as “rarely leaving the house and never putting on make-up,” and as part of my re-emergence into the world, I decided to return to my old cosmetic regimen.

It wasn’t complicated – eyeshadow, eyeliner and mascara. But within the first week of getting back into it, I realized that something had changed – my routine suddenly left me with a horrible, itchy red rash on my eyelids.

Not wanting to accept the obvious, I visited an opthamologist.

“I think I just have a patch of dry skin or something,” I told her. She examined me, determined that I had some sort of bacterial growth, and gave me an ointment. At the end of the two weeks, she said, whatever was living on my eyelids should be gone.

I followed her instructions, then tried my beauty routine a second time, and was immediately plagued again by irritated, inflamed lids.

This might seem like something that you’d want to remedy as fast as possible, but I’m sort of embarrassed to say that I let it go for almost a year. Aside from the fact that it seemed like something I could outsmart – if I just pretended my eyes didn’t itch, then they wouldn’t – I can only imagine that I was hesitant to go to the dermatologist because I already knew that I might be allergic to something in my make-up. See, my mother is allergic to most kinds of make-up, and I had inherited her dry skin, so it followed that I might be the bearer of other hereditary epidermal problems, too.

Eventually, though, logic prevailed and I accepted that wishful thinking did not an anti-itch cream make, so I sucked it up and made an appointment.

My dermatologist is a lovely lady who’s about five years older than me, listens to and answers all of my questions, and in general makes me thrilled that women are going into the field of medicine at equal if not higher rates than men. I explained my problem to her, and she looked at me with empathy.

“I think,” she said, “that you’re probably allergic to mascara.”

The first wave of emotion that hit me was denial. Surely I wasn’t allergic to every kind of mascara! Surely there was some brand, I said, that she could recommend, that was reliably safe for freakishly sensitive people like me.

There was not. My best bet, she said, was to go out there and try as many mascaras as I could. “The good news,” she added, “is that most department stores let you return them if you need to.”

This suggestion sounded like some sort of seventh dimension of shopping hell, but I was determined to kick my problem, and so I launched a frantic, ongoing search for a mascara that wouldn’t make my eyes puff up like a couple of blowfish.

I began by going through all of my mascaras past – if they hadn’t bothered me before, why should they bother me now?

This did not go well. The Maybelline took one day to give me a rash. The Cover Girl took about two days, allowing me a fleeting period of false hope before I watched my left eyelid slowly begin to protrude away from my face.

I then tried all the mascaras that call themselves organic, or that tout their hypoallergenic properties. Almay: an outright lie. Whole Foods brand: an utter disaster, and among the worst of all the mascaras I tested. Clinique: this one held out for a few days, like the Cover Girl, but eventually reduced my face to a pile of scratchy, bloated skin.

As my hope dwindled, I was forced to face the fact that I had become reliant, a long time ago, on make-up to make me feel like my best self. It’s not that I couldn’t go out of the house with a bare face — I did, and indeed still do, without feeling self-conscious. But even despite my year’s reprieve, I still felt like a different person without my once-familiar beauty routine; I felt a little less visible, and a little more likely to slip quietly into the background.

Anyway, after a long search, I finally found a mascara from The Body Shop that didn’t give me an allergic reaction until I’d worn it for about three days. This is, to date, the best I’ve done. What it means depresses me even to type – I can only wear it once every few weeks, for a single day at a time.

I’d love to say that this is a story of acceptance and growth, of realizing that I can be my best self with or without a certain type of make-up upon which I’m overly psychologically reliant. But it isn’t. I still want to find a magical kind of mascara that will save me from a life sentence of bare eyelashes. If that doesn’t work, I’m considering dying them, although it occurs to me that if I’m allergic to the dye I could be in for a world of hurt.

In the meantime, I’m trying to channel someone less superficial than myself. So far, it’s to moderate success.

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  • Cate

    Are you allergic to liquid eyeliner? Sometimes I use it as mascara in a pinch. Of course you don’t get the bristle-y applicator to apply it, meaning you have to basically paint each individual lash cluster, so it isn’t as good as real mascara, but it could be some kind of solution.

    • Jessica Pauline Ogilvie

      I don’t know, but I’ll try it! Thanks!

    • v

      i have the same problem. Have you tried the brand Lavera?It is natural. I also notice brand new mascara isn’t as painful.

  • JT

    I stopped using mascara because I hated the raccoon eyes. Instead, I got eyelash extensions. The lashes lasts up to a month or more. I’ve been getting extensions for almost 3 years now and I can’t recommend them enough. I just wake up and go now and get so many compliments.

  • Lena

    Have you tried Blinc mascara? It forms a tube around your lashes and when you wash it off it melts off as tubes. That will probably limit your exposure to the mascara formula since removal of normal mascara usually makes you smudge the product all over your eye area.

    • Martha

      Blinc has worked for me because I have tried every other brand out there to no avail…..all have irritated my eyes. I highly recommend and you can get it at Skin Store.com on 20% off sale.

  • Starofthemag

    I’m really fair and I straight up look like a freaky alien with nothing on my lashes. I can imagine the pain of contemplating a lifetime without it, and I know the pain of itchy eyelids all too well.

    I’ve had issues with mascara for years. In some cases (most drugstore brands) my eyes will start to water as I’m bringing the wand close to them, before I even apply anything! I have found Almay to be OK (as long as I don’t get it in my eyes and I toss it after two months), although you mentioned it wasn’t for you, and Marcelle has a couple that weren’t great mascaras but didn’t cause any irritation. Have you tried clear mascaras or even petroleum jelly? (which may be a terrible suggestion, I am absolutely not a doctor, for the record.)

    My mom has never worn mascara because of her sensitivities but has always dyed her lashes – I’m sure there are different kinds of dye… but I can understand how it’s not necessarily worth the risk.

    Don’t be hard on yourself about wanting to find a way to look the way you want! A little bit superficial is far from the worst thing you could be.

  • Abbie

    Have you tried making your own? I experimented with making my own and had pretty good luck. (However, I’ve since found out mascaras are less of what drive my eyes crazy, but silicone based concealers near my eyes are to blame)

    My recipe used to be 1 activated charcoal tablet / 1 part beeswax/ 1.5 parts coconut oil. Melt over the stove and put it into a jar. (I used the jar and then washed my mascara brush after every use….). It’s a little greasy, but an alternative to nekkid eyelashes!

  • Monica

    I sympathize. I had this problem years ago, with all makeup. For me eye shadow was worse then mascara. Finally I analyzed ingredients. Looked at the mascara that caused me the most immediate reaction (that pink and green Maybelline mascara). It turns out I am allergic to beeswax. I hope you can find a solution that works for you. I still have to be meticulous about changing mascara and eye shadow applicators. I don’t sleep in makeup and I wash my face as soon as I am home.

  • Ally

    I got an irritation once due to getting hit with the equivalent of a beach of sand thanks to the winds of Quebec city. I just remember waking up and my eyes being stuck together and having to force them open. It lasted few days but ever since I’ve been suuuuuper sensitive to anything near my eyes that constitutes as makeup (although vaseline and oil are all fine which is kind of weird). My eyelids don’t get puffy but I get little red bumps right under my eyes and they kind of sting – almost like the type you get from too much crying. It’s pretty much made me swear off eye makeup, to the point where I find I look like an alien with it on. It’s good though I no longer have to worry about my super long mascara’d eyelashes getting stuck to my glasses and leaving gross marks, although it would be nice to still have makeup skills occasionally.

  • Ashley

    Another brand to try (if you haven’t already) is Physicians Formula. They have an organic line which I really enjoy, though I don’t have as sensitive eyes/skin as you.

  • Anita

    Hi, just a tip-
    When I started wearing makeup on a fairly regular basis, I decided I couldn’t stand mascara because of how it made too many of my eyelashes fall out. So after playing around with some various ingredients, I discovered that mixing black eye shadow and vaseline together makes a really good mascara substitute! Its easier to remove (so you have to be careful not to rub your face), but it actually helped my eyelashes grow longer! I usually just mix it in an empty mascara tube and apply it like regular. If you’re interested, I hope this is helpful!

  • Erika

    You should try false eyelashes. Maybe the glue in falsies won’t irritate you, but would still give you the same effect. Or try eyeliner or liquid eyeliner. If eyeliner isn’t irritating, you can line the inner rim of your upper eyelid and fill in between each eye lash. Or even use the liquid eyeliner to coat a clean mascara wand and apply to your lashes like regular mascara, like dip the mascara wand in the liquid eyeliner… And if you are allergic to eyelash glue or eyeliner, you could use eyeshadow as eyeliner.

  • tee

    you should get them tinted…a lot of hair salons offer this. my lashes are blonde and wash me out if i have no mascara on.
    i found this solution as a teenager, it lasts like 4-6 weeks, works wonderfully and is usually inexpensive, unlike extensions

  • Andrew Pal

    If you have allergic problem to Beauty Products Then you should consult to beauty expert before buying Products.. and Visit sleekhair website for anti-allergic Beauty Products.

  • Lisa

    I read this article and you are not alone! The only eye makeup I would wear was mascara and I have always had naturally long thick lashes. Mascara is a staple for me that I would never go without. Unfortunately the past couple of months have been a suprise as every time I put on mascara my eyelids become swollen and red. It was obvious as every time I applied mascara and began to take it off, boom red lids. I waited a month and after seeing no more swollen eyes i attempted to put on mascara again. i used a clinique sample I had and was excited because for a few days my eyes were fine. i was so excited, back to normal I thought. Then a few days later I woke up only to see my eyes red and swollen again. I am still in denial because I have never had any allergies to make up and never had a problem until now. my next step will probably be taking a trip to the allergist to see what I am allergic too. I know this is upsetting but you are not the only one.

  • Sam

    This article sounds almost identical to my experiences of the past year. Back in January, I bought a new liquid eyeliner. It caused the corners of my eyes to develop a red irritated area in the corners of my eyes. I was very naive about the whole thing and decided that I could just put healing cream on those spots and cover them with my usual full face of make-up. I did this more about three months until a large rash spread across both eyes and portions of my lips. Finally, I couldn’t avoid it anymore. I went to my derm, and she told me and she told me I had developed contact dermititis, a festered blistering mess caused by my make-up. On top of that, I had developed an allergy to all of my make-up due to it touching the rash. I have spent the past few months trying out a few organic make-ups – 100% Pure, Faerie Organic, and Physician’s Forumula. 100% Pure mascaracaused the worst reaction, immediately swelling and aching. Faerie Organics foundation can last a few hours, but eventually it will itch all over before the end of my work day. Physician’s Forumula mascara and eyeliner weren’t even remotely successful. I plan to continue trying different things because, like you, I have a hard time accepting myself without make-up. It’s gotten easier to accept my natural appearance over time, but I think any woman who has worn make-up in the past struggles with this. Our society bases so much on how flawless we can make our face appear that it’s not nearly as acceptable to be an all natural woman as I would like. If I find a make-up that I can wear, I will be sure to recommend! I haven’t completely given up hope yet. :)

  • Josie

    You should try false lashes.

  • http://www.facebook.com/danielle.noto.14 Danielle Noto

    I too have the same problem and after 2 years that included a hospital stay for 3 days the first time I had the allergic reaction. They appointed me an infectious disease doctor who said I had a staff infection. It came back 3 times within the first year which resulted in 3 picc lines which were unnecessary. At the end of the year I told him that he was not curing me so I was going to see another ID doctor. (He never charged me a penny when it was all said and done because he was getting his money from my insurance company and didn’t want to risk being caught. What a racket! So the next ID doctor I went to (regarded as the best in my city) said that this is an allergic reaction and definitely not a staff infection. He sent me to an allergist (again, regarded as one of the best in the city), who agreed. He did all the tests, gave me a list 27 pages long of items that I have to stick to until I find out what product is causing the reaction. Well sticking to the list is very hard as we come in contact w/so many products each day, even used by others. I did my best to stick to the list and after examining my symptoms, times they occur and times they don’t, I have finally narrowed it down to mascara. I have used mascara all of my life, and that is why I never thought it could be that, but it is. Jessica is so right, Almay, what a joke (and that was on my list of items to use which I have always used anyway), the other mascaras cause the same effect and now I can never wear mascara again. Well it is better than having a horrible disease. I hope not being able to wear mascara again is the worst thing that ever happens to me. I am sad because I like how mascara looks on me but the reaction is so bad, that I am just glad to figure out what caused me to to think for 2 long years what in the world could be causing this. What a relief! The 1st picture isn’t even at the reaction’s worst stage, that was kind of in the middle. In the hospital I was unrecognizable. The swelling turned into red rashes that went down my face to my mouth, ears were swollen and bright red, down my chest and arms. I was scary. The second picture is of me and what I look like normally. These past 2 years I have lived in fear of it coming back again. It has come back 7 times in 2 years and almost everyday of the last 2 years I have gotten up to look in the mirror to see if my face was swollen. When it was, I would just cry because not knowing what the culprit was was the worst part of all. It would always happen the exact same way- my eyes would hurt and ache for a few days, then my eyelids and ears would get red and extremely itchy, I would wake up the next morning after the itchiness began to swollen lids and ears, then it was all downhill from there. The rash would just start to spread down and I would have zero energy for a week. Just lifting my arm was a task. Anyone that has these symptoms please know that you are not alone. You will see that by just doing a search on “red, itchy, swollen eyelids”. You will also see that most people don’t know what it is just as I did not for 2 years. If these are your symptoms, stop using mascara and see if it happens again. In all my searches online, and seeing all of the people w/the same symptoms, they were all women. Men don’t wear mascara.

  • http://www.facebook.com/danielle.noto.14 Danielle Noto

    I too have the same problem and after 2 years that included a hospital stay for 3 days the first time I had the allergic reaction. They appointed me an infectious disease doctor who said I had a staff infection. It came back 3 times within the first year which resulted in 3 picc lines which were unnecessary. At the end of the year I told him that he was not curing me so I was going to see another ID doctor. (He never charged me a penny when it was all said and done because he was getting his money from my insurance company and didn’t want to risk being caught. What a racket! So the next ID doctor I went to (regarded as the best in my city) said that this is an allergic reaction and definitely not a staff infection. He sent me to an allergist (again, regarded as one of the best in the city), who agreed. He did all the tests, gave me a list 27 pages long of items that I have to stick to until I find out what product is causing the reaction. Well sticking to the list is very hard as we come in contact w/so many products each day, even used by others. I did my best to stick to the list and after examining my symptoms, times they occur and times they don’t, I have finally narrowed it down to mascara. I have used mascara all of my life, and that is why I never thought it could be that, but it is. Jessica is so right, Almay, what a joke (and that was on my list of items to use which I have always used anyway), the other mascaras cause the same effect and now I can never wear mascara again. Well it is better than having a horrible disease. I hope not being able to wear mascara again is the worst thing that ever happens to me. I am sad because I like how mascara looks on me but the reaction is so bad, that I am just glad to figure out what caused me to to think for 2 long years what in the world could be causing this. What a relief! The 1st picture isn’t even at the reaction’s worst stage, that was kind of in the middle. In the hospital I was unrecognizable. The swelling turned into red rashes that went down my face to my mouth, ears were swollen and bright red, down my chest and arms. I was scary. The second picture is of me and what I look like normally. These past 2 years I have lived in fear of it coming back again. It has come back 7 times in 2 years and almost everyday of the last 2 years I have gotten up to look in the mirror to see if my face was swollen. When it was, I would just cry because not knowing what the culprit was was the worst part of all. It would always happen the exact same way- my eyes would hurt and ache for a few days, then my eyelids and ears would get red and extremely itchy, I would wake up the next morning after the itchiness began to swollen lids and ears, then it was all downhill from there. The rash would just start to spread down and I would have zero energy for a week. Just lifting my arm was a task. Anyone that has these symptoms please know that you are not alone. You will see that by just doing a search on “red, itchy, swollen eyelids”. You will also see that most people don’t know what it is just as I did not for 2 years. If these are your symptoms, stop using mascara and see if it happens again. In all my searches online, and seeing all of the people w/the same symptoms, they were all women. Men don’t wear mascara.

    • Mariam

      the same thing happens to me!!! have you found any solutions yet?

  • http://www.facebook.com/danielle.noto.14 Danielle Noto

    I too have the same problem and after 2 years that included a hospital stay for 3 days the first time I had the allergic reaction. They appointed me an infectious disease doctor who said I had a staff infection. It came back 3 times within the first year which resulted in 3 picc lines which were unnecessary. At the end of the year I told him that he was not curing me so I was going to see another ID doctor. (He never charged me a penny when it was all said and done because he was getting his money from my insurance company and didn’t want to risk being caught. What a racket! So the next ID doctor I went to (regarded as the best in my city) said that this is an allergic reaction and definitely not a staff infection. He sent me to an allergist (again, regarded as one of the best in the city), who agreed. He did all the tests, gave me a list 27 pages long of items that I have to stick to until I find out what product is causing the reaction. Well sticking to the list is very hard as we come in contact w/so many products each day, even used by others. I did my best to stick to the list and after examining my symptoms, times they occur and times they don’t, I have finally narrowed it down to mascara. I have used mascara all of my life, and that is why I never thought it could be that, but it is. Jessica is so right, Almay, what a joke (and that was on my list of items to use which I have always used anyway), the other mascaras cause the same effect and now I can never wear mascara again. Well it is better than having a horrible disease. I hope not being able to wear mascara again is the worst thing that ever happens to me. I am sad because I like how mascara looks on me but the reaction is so bad, that I am just glad to figure out what caused me to to think for 2 long years what in the world could be causing this. What a relief! The 1st picture isn’t even at the reaction’s worst stage, that was kind of in the middle. In the hospital I was unrecognizable. The swelling turned into red rashes that went down my face to my mouth, ears were swollen and bright red, down my chest and arms. I was scary. The second picture is of me and what I look like normally. These past 2 years I have lived in fear of it coming back again. It has come back 7 times in 2 years and almost everyday of the last 2 years I have gotten up to look in the mirror to see if my face was swollen. When it was, I would just cry because not knowing what the culprit was was the worst part of all. It would always happen the exact same way- my eyes would hurt and ache for a few days, then my eyelids and ears would get red and extremely itchy, I would wake up the next morning after the itchiness began to swollen lids and ears, then it was all downhill from there. The rash would just start to spread down and I would have zero energy for a week. Just lifting my arm was a task. Anyone that has these symptoms please know that you are not alone. You will see that by just doing a search on “red, itchy, swollen eyelids”. You will also see that most people don’t know what it is just as I did not for 2 years. If these are your symptoms, stop using mascara and see if it happens again. In all my searches online, and seeing all of the people w/the same symptoms, they were all women. Men don’t wear mascara.

  • http://www.facebook.com/danielle.noto.14 Danielle Noto

    I too have the same problem and after 2 years that included a hospital stay for 3 days the first time I had the allergic reaction. They appointed me an infectious disease doctor who said I had a staff infection. It came back 3 times within the first year which resulted in 3 picc lines which were unnecessary. At the end of the year I told him that he was not curing me so I was going to see another ID doctor. (He never charged me a penny when it was all said and done because he was getting his money from my insurance company and didn’t want to risk being caught. What a racket! So the next ID doctor I went to (regarded as the best in my city) said that this is an allergic reaction and definitely not a staff infection. He sent me to an allergist (again, regarded as one of the best in the city), who agreed. He did all the tests, gave me a list 27 pages long of items that I have to stick to until I find out what product is causing the reaction. Well sticking to the list is very hard as we come in contact w/so many products each day, even used by others. I did my best to stick to the list and after examining my symptoms, times they occur and times they don’t, I have finally narrowed it down to mascara. I have used mascara all of my life, and that is why I never thought it could be that, but it is. Jessica is so right, Almay, what a joke (and that was on my list of items to use which I have always used anyway), the other mascaras cause the same effect and now I can never wear mascara again. Well it is better than having a horrible disease. I hope not being able to wear mascara again is the worst thing that ever happens to me. I am sad because I like how mascara looks on me but the reaction is so bad, that I am just glad to figure out what caused me to to think for 2 long years what in the world could be causing this. What a relief! The 1st picture isn’t even at the reaction’s worst stage, that was kind of in the middle. In the hospital I was unrecognizable. The swelling turned into red rashes that went down my face to my mouth, ears were swollen and bright red, down my chest and arms. I was scary. The second picture is of me and what I look like normally. These past 2 years I have lived in fear of it coming back again. It has come back 7 times in 2 years and almost everyday of the last 2 years I have gotten up to look in the mirror to see if my face was swollen. When it was, I would just cry because not knowing what the culprit was was the worst part of all. It would always happen the exact same way- my eyes would hurt and ache for a few days, then my eyelids and ears would get red and extremely itchy, I would wake up the next morning after the itchiness began to swollen lids and ears, then it was all downhill from there. The rash would just start to spread down and I would have zero energy for a week. Just lifting my arm was a task. Anyone that has these symptoms please know that you are not alone. You will see that by just doing a search on “red, itchy, swollen eyelids”. You will also see that most people don’t know what it is just as I did not for 2 years. If these are your symptoms, stop using mascara and see if it happens again. In all my searches online, and seeing all of the people w/the same symptoms, they were all women. Men don’t wear mascara.

  • http://www.facebook.com/danielle.noto.14 Danielle Noto

    I too have the same problem and after 2 years that included a hospital stay for 3 days the first time I had the allergic reaction. They appointed me an infectious disease doctor who said I had a staff infection. It came back 3 times within the first year which resulted in 3 picc lines which were unnecessary. At the end of the year I told him that he was not curing me so I was going to see another ID doctor. (He never charged me a penny when it was all said and done because he was getting his money from my insurance company and didn’t want to risk being caught. What a racket! So the next ID doctor I went to (regarded as the best in my city) said that this is an allergic reaction and definitely not a staff infection. He sent me to an allergist (again, regarded as one of the best in the city), who agreed. He did all the tests, gave me a list 27 pages long of items that I have to stick to until I find out what product is causing the reaction. Well sticking to the list is very hard as we come in contact w/so many products each day, even used by others. I did my best to stick to the list and after examining my symptoms, times they occur and times they don’t, I have finally narrowed it down to mascara. I have used mascara all of my life, and that is why I never thought it could be that, but it is. Jessica is so right, Almay, what a joke (and that was on my list of items to use which I have always used anyway), the other mascaras cause the same effect and now I can never wear mascara again. Well it is better than having a horrible disease. I hope not being able to wear mascara again is the worst thing that ever happens to me. I am sad because I like how mascara looks on me but the reaction is so bad, that I am just glad to figure out what caused me to to think for 2 long years what in the world could be causing this. What a relief! The 1st picture isn’t even at the reaction’s worst stage, that was kind of in the middle. In the hospital I was unrecognizable. The swelling turned into red rashes that went down my face to my mouth, ears were swollen and bright red, down my chest and arms. I was scary. The second picture is of me and what I look like normally. These past 2 years I have lived in fear of it coming back again. It has come back 7 times in 2 years and almost everyday of the last 2 years I have gotten up to look in the mirror to see if my face was swollen. When it was, I would just cry because not knowing what the culprit was was the worst part of all. It would always happen the exact same way- my eyes would hurt and ache for a few days, then my eyelids and ears would get red and extremely itchy, I would wake up the next morning after the itchiness began to swollen lids and ears, then it was all downhill from there. The rash would just start to spread down and I would have zero energy for a week. Just lifting my arm was a task. Anyone that has these symptoms please know that you are not alone. You will see that by just doing a search on “red, itchy, swollen eyelids”. You will also see that most people don’t know what it is just as I did not for 2 years. If these are your symptoms, stop using mascara and see if it happens again. In all my searches online, and seeing all of the people w/the same symptoms, they were all women. Men don’t wear mascara.

  • http://www.facebook.com/danielle.noto.14 Danielle Noto

    I too have the same problem and after 2 years that included a hospital stay for 3 days the first time I had the allergic reaction. They appointed me an infectious disease doctor who said I had a staff infection. It came back 3 times within the first year which resulted in 3 picc lines which were unnecessary. At the end of the year I told him that he was not curing me so I was going to see another ID doctor. (He never charged me a penny when it was all said and done because he was getting his money from my insurance company and didn’t want to risk being caught. What a racket! So the next ID doctor I went to (regarded as the best in my city) said that this is an allergic reaction and definitely not a staff infection. He sent me to an allergist (again, regarded as one of the best in the city), who agreed. He did all the tests, gave me a list 27 pages long of items that I have to stick to until I find out what product is causing the reaction. Well sticking to the list is very hard as we come in contact w/so many products each day, even used by others. I did my best to stick to the list and after examining my symptoms, times they occur and times they don’t, I have finally narrowed it down to mascara. I have used mascara all of my life, and that is why I never thought it could be that, but it is. Jessica is so right, Almay, what a joke (and that was on my list of items to use which I have always used anyway), the other mascaras cause the same effect and now I can never wear mascara again. Well it is better than having a horrible disease. I hope not being able to wear mascara again is the worst thing that ever happens to me. I am sad because I like how mascara looks on me but the reaction is so bad, that I am just glad to figure out what caused me to to think for 2 long years what in the world could be causing this. What a relief! The 1st picture isn’t even at the reaction’s worst stage, that was kind of in the middle. In the hospital I was unrecognizable. The swelling turned into red rashes that went down my face to my mouth, ears were swollen and bright red, down my chest and arms. I was scary. The second picture is of me and what I look like normally. These past 2 years I have lived in fear of it coming back again. It has come back 7 times in 2 years and almost everyday of the last 2 years I have gotten up to look in the mirror to see if my face was swollen. When it was, I would just cry because not knowing what the culprit was was the worst part of all. It would always happen the exact same way- my eyes would hurt and ache for a few days, then my eyelids and ears would get red and extremely itchy, I would wake up the next morning after the itchiness began to swollen lids and ears, then it was all downhill from there. The rash would just start to spread down and I would have zero energy for a week. Just lifting my arm was a task. Anyone that has these symptoms please know that you are not alone. You will see that by just doing a search on “red, itchy, swollen eyelids”. You will also see that most people don’t know what it is just as I did not for 2 years. If these are your symptoms, stop using mascara and see if it happens again. In all my searches online, and seeing all of the people w/the same symptoms, they were all women. Men don’t wear mascara.

  • http://www.facebook.com/danielle.noto.14 Danielle Noto

    I too have the same problem and after 2 years that included a hospital stay for 3 days the first time I had the allergic reaction. They appointed me an infectious disease doctor who said I had a staff infection. It came back 3 times within the first year which resulted in 3 picc lines which were unnecessary. At the end of the year I told him that he was not curing me so I was going to see another ID doctor. (He never charged me a penny when it was all said and done because he was getting his money from my insurance company and didn’t want to risk being caught. What a racket! So the next ID doctor I went to (regarded as the best in my city) said that this is an allergic reaction and definitely not a staff infection. He sent me to an allergist (again, regarded as one of the best in the city), who agreed. He did all the tests, gave me a list 27 pages long of items that I have to stick to until I find out what product is causing the reaction. Well sticking to the list is very hard as we come in contact w/so many products each day, even used by others. I did my best to stick to the list and after examining my symptoms, times they occur and times they don’t, I have finally narrowed it down to mascara. I have used mascara all of my life, and that is why I never thought it could be that, but it is. Jessica is so right, Almay, what a joke (and that was on my list of items to use which I have always used anyway), the other mascaras cause the same effect and now I can never wear mascara again. Well it is better than having a horrible disease. I hope not being able to wear mascara again is the worst thing that ever happens to me. I am sad because I like how mascara looks on me but the reaction is so bad, that I am just glad to figure out what caused me to to think for 2 long years what in the world could be causing this. What a relief! The 1st picture isn’t even at the reaction’s worst stage, that was kind of in the middle. In the hospital I was unrecognizable. The swelling turned into red rashes that went down my face to my mouth, ears were swollen and bright red, down my chest and arms. I was scary. The second picture is of me and what I look like normally. These past 2 years I have lived in fear of it coming back again. It has come back 7 times in 2 years and almost everyday of the last 2 years I have gotten up to look in the mirror to see if my face was swollen. When it was, I would just cry because not knowing what the culprit was was the worst part of all. It would always happen the exact same way- my eyes would hurt and ache for a few days, then my eyelids and ears would get red and extremely itchy, I would wake up the next morning after the itchiness began to swollen lids and ears, then it was all downhill from there. The rash would just start to spread down and I would have zero energy for a week. Just lifting my arm was a task. Anyone that has these symptoms please know that you are not alone. You will see that by just doing a search on “red, itchy, swollen eyelids”. You will also see that most people don’t know what it is just as I did not for 2 years. If these are your symptoms, stop using mascara and see if it happens again. In all my searches online, and seeing all of the people w/the same symptoms, they were all women. Men don’t wear mascara.

  • http://www.facebook.com/danielle.noto.14 Danielle Noto

    I too have the same problem and after 2 years that included a hospital stay for 3 days the first time I had the allergic reaction. They appointed me an infectious disease doctor who said I had a staff infection. It came back 3 times within the first year which resulted in 3 picc lines which were unnecessary. At the end of the year I told him that he was not curing me so I was going to see another ID doctor. (He never charged me a penny when it was all said and done because he was getting his money from my insurance company and didn’t want to risk being caught. What a racket! So the next ID doctor I went to (regarded as the best in my city) said that this is an allergic reaction and definitely not a staff infection. He sent me to an allergist (again, regarded as one of the best in the city), who agreed. He did all the tests, gave me a list 27 pages long of items that I have to stick to until I find out what product is causing the reaction. Well sticking to the list is very hard as we come in contact w/so many products each day, even used by others. I did my best to stick to the list and after examining my symptoms, times they occur and times they don’t, I have finally narrowed it down to mascara. I have used mascara all of my life, and that is why I never thought it could be that, but it is. Jessica is so right, Almay, what a joke (and that was on my list of items to use which I have always used anyway), the other mascaras cause the same effect and now I can never wear mascara again. Well it is better than having a horrible disease. I hope not being able to wear mascara again is the worst thing that ever happens to me. I am sad because I like how mascara looks on me but the reaction is so bad, that I am just glad to figure out what caused me to to think for 2 long years what in the world could be causing this. What a relief! The 1st picture isn’t even at the reaction’s worst stage, that was kind of in the middle. In the hospital I was unrecognizable. The swelling turned into red rashes that went down my face to my mouth, ears were swollen and bright red, down my chest and arms. I was scary. The second picture is of me and what I look like normally. These past 2 years I have lived in fear of it coming back again. It has come back 7 times in 2 years and almost everyday of the last 2 years I have gotten up to look in the mirror to see if my face was swollen. When it was, I would just cry because not knowing what the culprit was was the worst part of all. It would always happen the exact same way- my eyes would hurt and ache for a few days, then my eyelids and ears would get red and extremely itchy, I would wake up the next morning after the itchiness began to swollen lids and ears, then it was all downhill from there. The rash would just start to spread down and I would have zero energy for a week. Just lifting my arm was a task. Anyone that has these symptoms please know that you are not alone. You will see that by just doing a search on “red, itchy, swollen eyelids”. You will also see that most people don’t know what it is just as I did not for 2 years. If these are your symptoms, stop using mascara and see if it happens again. In all my searches online, and seeing all of the people w/the same symptoms, they were all women. Men don’t wear mascara.

  • http://www.facebook.com/danielle.noto.14 Danielle Noto

    I too have the same problem and after 2 years that included a hospital stay for 3 days the first time I had the allergic reaction. They appointed me an infectious disease doctor who said I had a staff infection. It came back 3 times within the first year which resulted in 3 picc lines which were unnecessary. At the end of the year I told him that he was not curing me so I was going to see another ID doctor. (He never charged me a penny when it was all said and done because he was getting his money from my insurance company and didn’t want to risk being caught. What a racket! So the next ID doctor I went to (regarded as the best in my city) said that this is an allergic reaction and definitely not a staff infection. He sent me to an allergist (again, regarded as one of the best in the city), who agreed. He did all the tests, gave me a list 27 pages long of items that I have to stick to until I find out what product is causing the reaction. Well sticking to the list is very hard as we come in contact w/so many products each day, even used by others. I did my best to stick to the list and after examining my symptoms, times they occur and times they don’t, I have finally narrowed it down to mascara. I have used mascara all of my life, and that is why I never thought it could be that, but it is. Jessica is so right, Almay, what a joke (and that was on my list of items to use which I have always used anyway), the other mascaras cause the same effect and now I can never wear mascara again. Well it is better than having a horrible disease. I hope not being able to wear mascara again is the worst thing that ever happens to me. I am sad because I like how mascara looks on me but the reaction is so bad, that I am just glad to figure out what caused me to to think for 2 long years what in the world could be causing this. What a relief! The 1st picture isn’t even at the reaction’s worst stage, that was kind of in the middle. In the hospital I was unrecognizable. The swelling turned into red rashes that went down my face to my mouth, ears were swollen and bright red, down my chest and arms. I was scary. The second picture is of me and what I look like normally. These past 2 years I have lived in fear of it coming back again. It has come back 7 times in 2 years and almost everyday of the last 2 years I have gotten up to look in the mirror to see if my face was swollen. When it was, I would just cry because not knowing what the culprit was was the worst part of all. It would always happen the exact same way- my eyes would hurt and ache for a few days, then my eyelids and ears would get red and extremely itchy, I would wake up the next morning after the itchiness began to swollen lids and ears, then it was all downhill from there. The rash would just start to spread down and I would have zero energy for a week. Just lifting my arm was a task. Anyone that has these symptoms please know that you are not alone. You will see that by just doing a search on “red, itchy, swollen eyelids”. You will also see that most people don’t know what it is just as I did not for 2 years. If these are your symptoms, stop using mascara and see if it happens again. In all my searches online, and seeing all of the people w/the same symptoms, they were all women. Men don’t wear mascara.

  • http://www.facebook.com/danielle.noto.14 Danielle Noto

    I too have the same problem and after 2 years that included a hospital stay for 3 days the first time I had the allergic reaction. They appointed me an infectious disease doctor who said I had a staff infection. It came back 3 times within the first year which resulted in 3 picc lines which were unnecessary. At the end of the year I told him that he was not curing me so I was going to see another ID doctor. (He never charged me a penny when it was all said and done because he was getting his money from my insurance company and didn’t want to risk being caught. What a racket! So the next ID doctor I went to (regarded as the best in my city) said that this is an allergic reaction and definitely not a staff infection. He sent me to an allergist (again, regarded as one of the best in the city), who agreed. He did all the tests, gave me a list 27 pages long of items that I have to stick to until I find out what product is causing the reaction. Well sticking to the list is very hard as we come in contact w/so many products each day, even used by others. I did my best to stick to the list and after examining my symptoms, times they occur and times they don’t, I have finally narrowed it down to mascara. I have used mascara all of my life, and that is why I never thought it could be that, but it is. Jessica is so right, Almay, what a joke (and that was on my list of items to use which I have always used anyway), the other mascaras cause the same effect and now I can never wear mascara again. Well it is better than having a horrible disease. I hope not being able to wear mascara again is the worst thing that ever happens to me. I am sad because I like how mascara looks on me but the reaction is so bad, that I am just glad to figure out what caused me to to think for 2 long years what in the world could be causing this. What a relief! The 1st picture isn’t even at the reaction’s worst stage, that was kind of in the middle. In the hospital I was unrecognizable. The swelling turned into red rashes that went down my face to my mouth, ears were swollen and bright red, down my chest and arms. I was scary. The second picture is of me and what I look like normally. These past 2 years I have lived in fear of it coming back again. It has come back 7 times in 2 years and almost everyday of the last 2 years I have gotten up to look in the mirror to see if my face was swollen. When it was, I would just cry because not knowing what the culprit was was the worst part of all. It would always happen the exact same way- my eyes would hurt and ache for a few days, then my eyelids and ears would get red and extremely itchy, I would wake up the next morning after the itchiness began to swollen lids and ears, then it was all downhill from there. The rash would just start to spread down and I would have zero energy for a week. Just lifting my arm was a task. Anyone that has these symptoms please know that you are not alone. You will see that by just doing a search on “red, itchy, swollen eyelids”. You will also see that most people don’t know what it is just as I did not for 2 years. If these are your symptoms, stop using mascara and see if it happens again. In all my searches online, and seeing all of the people w/the same symptoms, they were all women. Men don’t wear mascara.

  • LD

    I have a very similar problem, and it is driving me crazy.
    I had been using mascara on a daily basis for over 3 years, when around last New Year my left lower eyelid became itchy. After a week or so it started getting red and swollen. The funny thing is it was only my left eye, and only the lower eyelid. My doctor prescribed some cortisone ointment, which relieved the symptoms for a day or two, but they always came back. The doctor said I shouldn’t use it too much, as it can harm my skin, but I’ve been using it for over two months every time I can’t stand the itching. It’s April now, and nothing has changed. Though I am using a different brand of mascara (Clinique), both upper eyelids have now started to itch too.

    I am pretty desperate about this, although I know it’s shallow. But I have fair skin and very blond, pin straight lashes that are invisible without a coat of mascara. My eyes lack any definition without visible eyelashes. People seeing me without mascara comment on my appearance all the time (‘You look tired,’ ‘You look ill’). Once, when he had seen me in the morning without mascara and with it in the afternoon, my brother-in-law literally said: ‘You look so different with make-up! You looked much more plain this morning!’

    My doctor isn’t very keen on getting me tested, she more or less goes ‘Here, try this ointment and that one, and try not using mascara for two weeks, and change brands,’ every time I go see her. But there always comes up some event (a wedding, a date, a party) which makes me succumb and put mascara on despite her advice.

    So my question is, any stories of progress in the long run? Anyone who found a brand which is working for them? I want to keep on trying different brands, probably wasting a lot of money, but at the same time I’m afraid that at 22 I will ruin my eyelids by using mascara and that cortisone too much.

  • Brenda

    You should try Inglot mascara! I have sensitive eyes also and this is one of the only mascaras I trust. I’m allergic to the ones that even claim to by hypoallergenic.

  • Same problem

    OMG. I started crying as I read this because I could relate exactly to what you were feeling.

  • Shanelle

    I never had any problems, either, until I had my baby girl. I am just now figuring out that, even though I had no allergies to anything before pregnancy, I can no longer wear mascara (or eat kiwi fruit for that matter). Alas, I’m still in search under the blind hope of finding something that won’t make my eyes puff up like balloons. Bleh.

  • Lauren Ferguson

    This sounds almost exactly like my predicament except I just get really red and puffy eyelids. I tried clinique and it was fine for a week..then it inflamed my eyes. The only one that works like your Body Shop one does is my Lush Eye’s Right. I have a suspicion that the fragrance in my foundation irritates my eyes too. So next move might be a natural or more natural foundation/ concealer. This whole ordeal is a huge blow to my self esteem too. You’re not shallow at all. I have blonde eyelashes, and red hair. I need some definition. Good luck to you in your quest. I hope one day there will be an easier solution!

  • Ioana Rosca

    Did you find something that works for you? I am having the same problem right now, still haven’t figured out if it’s just mascara or mascara and eyeshadow/eyeliner… But I found a mascara that has all natural ingredients, not even one in common to the ones I’ve used so far, so i ordered it and I’m gonna give it a try. I wish you all the best, here’s the link to the Suncoat mascara

    http://suncoatproducts.com/shop/sugar-based-natural-mascara/sugar-based-natural-mascara-black/

  • Kim

    I have had the same type of problem except instead of having itchy eyes mine were red like pink eye. I think I might be allergic to beeswax, which is found in a lot of mascaras. I know a few people with similar conditions, and they can all wear Votre Vu mascara. You can order it through my website http://www.votrevu.com/kimsitz. It is good for your lashes and has been an amazing find.