Allergens

Every day millions of people across the world use home and personal care products safely and effectively. However, a small proportion of people experience an allergic reaction to some of the ingredients used in these products. For these people it is important to understand which ingredient or ingredients they are allergic to so that they are able to avoid products which could cause a reaction. This is the only way for allergic consumers to avoid an allergic reaction.

People often want to know more about ingredients and allergies so we aim to provide as much information and guidance as possible.

What is an allergy?

Our immune system has developed to respond to foreign bodies such as bacteria and viruses. In some of us our immune system wrongly responds to a material (known as an allergen) which is harmless for the majority of people. It can often take being exposed to an allergen a number of times for someone to become sensitized. Once a person is allergic it is normally a lifelong condition.

Some allergic reactions can be delayed in nature, occurring more than 24 hours after a person is exposed to ingredient or chemical - this type of allergy is called delayed hypersensitivity, type IV allergy or contact/skin allergy. Nickel allergy is an example of this type of allergy. We focus here on the delayed type reactions as these are an important type of reaction which can occur in some people after the use of our home and personal care products.

Find out further general information about allergies through The Cosmetic, Toiletry & Perfumery Association.

Our approach

We are committed to developing products which are formulated with the minimal amount of allergen ingredients in order to try to reduce the chance of allergic reactions. However, we often can’t leave out some ingredients which have the potential to cause an allergic reaction because they perform an important function in the product. This means that providing consumers with allergies with clear information about our products is really important.

Our ingredient standards are determined by three key factors: laws and regulations, our own internal safety assessments, and changing consumer preferences. We always comply with national laws and regulations.

We conduct our in-depth safety evaluations through our Safety and Environmental Assurance Centre (SEAC).Skin allergies can be avoided by a careful process of safety risk assessment to consider how allergenic the ingredient is as well as how much of an ingredient will come into contact with a person’s skin. If new data about allergens becomes available SEAC will advise our product developers if action is required, e.g. to minimise how much of the ingredient consumers are exposed to. Find out more on SEAC and risk assessments.

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