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What You Need to Know About Allergens in Shampoo

If you have ever had an allergic reaction to a beauty or personal care product, you know how frustrating it can be to find out which ingredient caused it. Allergens in shampoo are often overlooked, but they can be just as irritating and dangerous as any other type of allergen.

In this blog post, we'll take a look at what allergens are in shampoo, how they can affect you, and what you can do to avoid them.

What are allergens?

An allergen is a substance that can cause an allergic reaction. This type of reaction is caused by the body's immune system, which mistakes the allergen for a harmful invader. As a result, the body produces antibodies to fight off the allergen.

When you come into contact with an allergen, your body releases histamine, which is responsible for many of the common symptoms of an allergic reaction. These can include inflammation, itching, and a runny nose. In some cases, an allergic reaction can be life-threatening.

The good news is that not all allergens are created equal. Some people are more sensitive to some allergens than others.

What is contact dermatitis?

Allergy to a substance that has previously irritated your skin, scalp, or immune system is known as allergic contact dermatitis. Your body's sensitivity threshold is what determines how many allergenic substances your skin, scalp, and immune system can tolerate. This isn't applicable to everyone.

Can shampoo cause an allergic reaction?

Shampoo is a product that many people take for granted. We use it to clean our hair and scalp, but few of us stop to think about the ingredients that are in it.

It turns out that shampoo can be a major source of allergens. In fact, some people are so sensitive to shampoo allergies that they can't even use it without experiencing mild reactions.

Allergens in Shampoo

allergens in shampoo

A shampoo allergy is one of the most common causes of scalp dermatitis, even if the shampoo doesn't spend a long time on the scalp and surrounding skin surfaces since it is rinsed. It may be difficult to diagnose since it covers a wide range of sections where the shampoo comes into contact, including:

  • Scalp

  • Ears

  • Behind the neck

  • Hands

  • Upper torso

The most common allergens in shampoo are:

  • Fragrances

  • Sulfates

  • Preservatives

  • Lanolin

Let's take a closer look at each of these.


Fragrances are one of the most common allergens in shampoo. They can be made from natural essential oils or synthetic materials, and they are used to give the shampoo a pleasing scent.

Unfortunately, fragrances can also cause allergic reactions in some people. The symptoms of a fragrance allergy can range from mild (such as skin irritation) to life-threatening (such as anaphylaxis).


Sulfates are chemicals that are used in shampoo to create a lather. They are also responsible for the foaming action of many soaps and detergents. Sulfates can cause skin rashes and an allergic reaction in some people.


Preservatives are another common allergen in shampoo. They are used to prevent the growth of bacteria and fungi, and they can cause skin irritation and an allergic reaction in some people. Preservatives are chemicals that are added to shampoo to help it stay fresh.


Lanolin is a substance that is extracted from wool. It is often used in beauty products because it is thought to be moisturizing. Lanolin can cause an allergic reaction in some people.

What should not be in shampoo?

There are a few ingredients that should not be in shampoo. These include:

  • Parabens are preservatives that have been linked to cancer.

  • Phthalates are chemicals that are used to make plastics more flexible.

  • Fragrance is a term that can refer to a wide range of different ingredients, some of which are known allergens.

  • MEA/DEA are chemicals that are used in shampoo to adjust the pH. They can cause skin irritation and an allergic reaction in some people.

  • Triethanolamine is a chemical that is used to adjust the pH. It can cause skin irritation and an allergic reaction.

  • Polyethylene glycol (PEG) is a thickening agent manufactured from petroleum that has been linked to dryness, breakage, and infringement in the hair. PEG has been labeled as a developmental toxicant.

These ingredients can cause skin irritation, an allergic reaction, and even cancer. If you see any of these ingredients in the shampoo you're using, it's best to switch to a different product.

If you're experiencing any of the symptoms of an allergic reaction, it's important to consult with a doctor. An allergist can help you identify the allergen and come up with a treatment plan.

How can you tell if a shampoo contains allergens?

If you're sensitive to allergens, it can be difficult to determine whether a shampoo contains them. The best way to do this is to read the label. If you see any of the allergens listed in this article, it's best to avoid that product.

You can also contact the company that makes the shampoo and ask them for more information about the ingredients.

Signs of a shampoo allergy

signs of shampoo allergy

Your skin is one of the first locations where symptoms might appear. They typically show up 24 to 48 hours after you came into contact with the irritant chemical, but they can appear as early as a week later.

Different people may experience different allergy symptoms. The following are some of the most frequent:

  • Different people may experience different allergy symptoms. The following are some of the most frequent:

    • Red skin: This is the most common symptom. The skin may be itchy, dry, or have a burning sensation.

    • Burning or itchy scalp, which may be intense: This can be a sign that the scalp is trying to protect itself from the allergen.

    • Swelling of the face, especially around the eyes: This can be a sign of anaphylaxis, a life-threatening allergic reaction.

    • Scaly patches: This can be a sign of eczema, which is a chronic skin condition that can be triggered by an allergic reaction.

    • Hives: These are raised, red, itchy bumps that can appear anywhere on the body.

    • Blisters: These are small, fluid-filled bumps that can appear on the skin.

    • Sun sensitivity: This is a sign that the skin has been damaged by the allergen.

    • Eczema: This is a chronic skin condition that can be triggered by an allergic reaction.

    • Hair loss: This can be a sign of an allergy to PPD, which is a common ingredient in hair dyes.

Symptoms generally appear in the area where you came into contact with the substance that causes your allergy. If you have an allergen on your finger and then touch another area of your body, such as your face or neck, you may experience an allergic reaction.

Prevention from allergic reactions

Once you've figured out what you're allergic to, be proactive in your efforts to avoid it. If you wash your hair with shampoos every day, consider cutting back on the amount of time you spend washing your hair.

  • Immediately after contact, wash thoroughly with hypoallergenic soap and water as soon as possible, then wash your hands before going any further.

  • Remove and wash any objects that the irritant may have come into contact with, such as clothing or jewelry.

  • Use Aloe Vera, Calamine lotion, antihistamine- or Cortisone-based ointments to treat mild symptoms.

  • If required, prescription medicines may be used to treat more serious symptoms.

Patch-testing for a shampoo allergy is not easy, seeing an allergist for a skin test is called a patch test. Sensitive individuals react more severely to irritation, which can lead to more serious allergy symptoms. Although several allergens in shampoo have not yet been identified as suspects and might be detected through tests on the shampoo rather than its individual components, they may still cause a skin reaction.

What to do if your shampoo has caused an allergic reaction

If you have had an allergic reaction to shampoo, take the following steps:

  • Remove all of the shampoos from your hair and body.

  • Wash your hair and body with soap and water.

  • If symptoms persist, consult a doctor.

Shampoo is a necessary part of our daily routine, but it's important to be aware of the allergens that can be found in it. By being knowledgeable about the allergens and taking steps to avoid them, we can minimize the chances of having an allergic reaction.

How long does an allergic reaction last?

The duration of allergic reactions varies depending on the person. For some, symptoms may only last a few hours, while others may experience symptoms for days or even weeks. If you are having severe reactions, you should seek medical attention.

Best shampoos for allergic contact dermatitis

If you have a shampoo allergy, it's important to find a shampoo that is free of the allergens that cause your reaction. The following are some shampoos that are free of common allergens:

  • Alba Botanica: Very Emollient Shampoo

  • Aubrey Organics: Chamomile Tea Gentle Shampoo

  • Burt's Bees: Lemon Butter Cuticle Cream

  • DevaCurl: No-Poo Original Zero Lather Conditioning Cleanser

  • Giovanni: D: Tox System Purifying Shampoo

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The information on mynoophoric.com is for informational, educational and entertainment purposes only and is not intended to be medical advice. Readers should not rely on this information as advice to make health decisions. Noophoric is not responsible for any possible health consequences from any person following information that is presented on this website. Readers should consult with their physician before making changes to diet, nutrition, supplementation, medication or lifestyle.