Beauty Products with Allergens

Portrait of beautiful woman with blue eyes. Isolated on white background

Summer is a great time to try out new kinds of makeup and fun color combinations. But a lot of people aren’t aware of all the different ingredients that go into makeup. This is especially important for people with allergies. An allergy to a makeup product might manifest as redness, itchiness, hives or blisters; so it’s important to know what’s in your makeup.

One of the most surprising ingredients in makeup I’ve come across is fish. It’s usually listed as “pearlescence” in the ingredients list (probably because no one wants to put fish on their face). It’s found mostly in lipstick and is used to make it shiny, like the scales on a fish. You can find more details about it at the following links:

http://animals.howstuffworks.com/fish/herring-info.htm

http://www.businessinsider.com/15-surprising-things-that-contain-animal-products-2014-3

http://www.cosmeticsandskin.com/cdc/pearl-essence.php

If you’re allergic to fish and want to be safe, there are companies like Smashbox that don’t use any animal byproducts in their makeup. However, these companies will use a lot of plant-based material. For example, one of their foundations contains wheat and barley, and other products contain fruit. While Smashbox doesn’t provide an ingredient list on their website, if you go into their stores, you will find a list on the product’s box.

Aside from makeup, a lot of other beauty products contain ingredients that could potentially cause an allergic reaction. Sunscreen is great for your skin in general and super important to wear in the summer; but it can also contain some chemicals (preservatives and fragrances) that can cause contact dermatitis. If you have really sensitive skin that reacts a lot, try putting a bit of sunscreen on your inner forearm before using it all over your body.

An important fact to mention is that, when a company advertises a product as “hypoallergenic,” it does not mean that the product doesn’t contain any of the priority allergens. For example, I know of a facial scrub that is sulfate-free, paraben-free, hypoallergenic, and dermatologist-tested, yet also contains walnuts as one of the main ingredients. There aren’t any standards that these manufacturers have to meet in order to declare a product as hypoallergenic; so take that claim with a grain of salt.

Remember to always do your research before buying products that will come in contact with your skin. There are many makeup companies out there. So, if one product isn’t safe for you, you can almost be certain that another company has a product that is.

Talia

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No Eggs, No Problem: Egg Substitutes

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Nothing says welcome home like the fresh smell of baked goods wafting from your kitchen. Cookies, pies, cakes, you name it, sound delicious.  But there is one sneaky ingredient lurking in all of those delicious baked goods that could cause major problems: eggs. Eggs are currently on the list of the most common food allergies in Canada; but that doesn’t have to stop you from enjoying delicious treats of every kind. For many treats, there are many alternatives to crunchy, chewy centers; but what about the very makeup of the treat? Eggs provide rise, moisture, and fill to many different kinds of recipes.  The following three items are my most sacred baking tips for the most delectable, unique baked goods you’ll find. These are recipes that your friends will beg you to tell them or demand you make when you bake.

1)  Yogurt

We all love chocolate chip cookies. They can be gooey and chewy or crunchy and satisfying. But what about those pesky eggs in the recipe?  Well, the purpose of the eggs in this particular recipe is to add moisture to the batter. To add a little kick to your already perfected chocolate chip cookies, try putting a table spoon of plain 1 percent yogurt for each egg called for in the recipe. The yogurt will supply the batter with enough moisture and add a delicious taste that will leave people wondering what that special ingredient is.

2)  Coconut Milk/Butter

It’s delicious, it’s sweet, it’s the perfect low-fat substitute for many baked goods. It provides excellent moisture to batters as well providing items like breads, cookies, and muffins, an extra sweet taste; so you can cut back on the sugar you add to your recipe. Coconut butter can be used in breads and muffins to add sweetness to things that also don’t require a lot of sugar. For each egg called for, use a tablespoon of butter or 1/3 cup of the milk. If you’re using the milk, make sure to add baking soda so your mixture isn’t too wet. If you feel like your batter is too wet, add some flour.

3) Baking Soda

Odorless, virtually-tasteless baking soda is a Godsend to those of us who bake without eggs. Why are they so great? It provides rise or lift to certain baked goods that need to stand to attention, like breads, cookies, muffins, cupcakes, and cakes. It has no taste (always make sure to check it so it hasn’t gone bad. If it has, it will have a very sour taste.) and it gives substantial lift without making your goods too dense or heavy. For each egg, add half a tablespoon of baking soda and a tablespoon of hot water together, mix separately, then add it to mixture.

Baking is fun, therapeutic, experimental, and has endless possibilities. Just because there are certain things we can’t put in our baked goods doesn’t mean we have to place limitations upon the things we bake. So get in the kitchen and see what you can create! Above is my favorite recipe for delicious chocolate-chip cookies. Enjoy, and happy baking!

Arianne K. 

Say Yes! Guest Blogger – Sloane Miller

Allergic Girl photo by Kenneth Chen

By Sloane Miller, MSW, LMSW
Allergicgirl.com

Two years ago I went on a blind date. The date wasn’t a romantic match; but he told me about musical improv-improvisational comedy created in a musical theater form. I had never done anything like improvisational comedy before; but I knew I loved to sing and I loved musical theater. So, a few months later, I signed up for my first class. Being silly, on stage, with a group of strangers was pretty terrifying. But there was a small part of me that also found it exhilarating. The more I practiced, the more classes I took, the more the terror was replaced by joy.

The core premise of improv is to say “Yes, and” to your partner. It does not simply involve being spontaneous. It involved saying ‘yes’ to everything presented to you in a theatrical scene (which hopefully will open up the scene to something potentially funny or brilliant or clever, goofy or simply bring the scene to the next place.

Sloane Improv
Having fun at improv!

As someone who grew up with food allergies, asthma, allergies and eczema, my childhood was filled with a lot of “Yes, but.” “Yes, I’d love to come over for a play date, BUT I can’t because you have dogs and I’ll have asthma issues and allergy issues.” Or, “Yes, I’d love to have a piece of that German Chocolate Cake. BUT it has tree nuts and I’m allergic.” Or, “Yes, I’d love to go outside and ride our bikes. BUT I’ll have asthma and allergy issues.”  Once I left home for college, as a young adult, I set out to discover how to expand my horizons while remaining safe. That is to say, how to add more ‘yeses’ to my life despite the ‘buts’.

Throughout my adult life, especially these last eight years of being a food allergy counselor author and speaker, that has been my task: how to add more ‘yes’ to a life that has some definite ‘buts’ and ‘nos’.

The facts of food allergies and anaphylaxis are clear. Food allergies are real and serious. Have a plan, know your triggers. and know what to do in case of an emergency. Carry your emergency medications on your person at all times as anaphylaxis is a swift and severe reaction that can be fatal. Epinephrine auto-injectors are the first line of defense in a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction.

Those facts are real and cannot be ignored; and those facts can feel like the biggest ‘Nos’ to having a life. No, you can’t eat that cookie without reading the label. Or, No you can’t just have a bit of that cake without asking what’s in it. Or, No you can’t leave your bag or purse with your medications at home when you hang with friends. And, especially: No, you can’t kiss someone who just ate your allergen.

So, how does anyone expand one’s horizons (say yes to fun, connection, joy, expansion, intimacy) while remaining safe (saying no to allergic triggers) especially when food and food-related events seem to be the focus at home, with family, with friends, at college, at work, traveling and/or on romantic dates?

Put simply, by knowing this. Life is more than food and who you are as a person is bigger than simply someone with food allergies. Finding your ‘YES’ as an adult is about exploring, uncovering, and developing who you are as a person, your interests, your passions, your creative outlets, your drives, your spirituality, your athleticism, your focus, and your skills.

So, where will you find your next ‘YES’?

Sloane Miller, MFA, MSW, LMSW

Food Allergy Counselor
http://allergicgirl.com/
Author of Allergic Girl: Adventures in Living Well with Food Allergies (Wiley, 2011)

Securing Allergy-Safe Lunchrooms at Work: The How-to Guide

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So how exactly do you get an allergy-safe lunchroom at work? The bad news is there aren’t really any resources out there that give you a step-by-step guide to securing one. Now, that wasn’t meant to be a lead up to me saying here’s my step-by-step guide. I, however, have successfully made multiple lunchrooms peanut/tree nut free, and generally allergy-safe, at different jobs over the years. From that experience, I will share tips and give some advice that you can apply to your job-site and hopefully make your lunchroom more allergy-friendly.

First thing to do is ask. If you never ask, you will never make any progress; you will begin and end with no results. This step may seem too simple; but, sometimes just asking really is the most effective strategy. When you ask for an allergy-safe lunchroom at work, be prepared. Questions about the severity of your allergy will arise. Your boss is probably just asking these questions to better understand your situation. Be sure to express all of your concerns and clearly explain the importance of feeling safe around food at work. Suggest helpful solutions, whether this is a peanut/nut-free lunchroom, or specific communal cooking ware designated for allergen-free cooking. It really depends upon your comfort level.

Secondly, educate your co-workers. Many people have grown up oblivious to the world of food allergies. It is this type of person who may, at first, be resistant to having an allergy-friendly lunchroom at work. The best approach is to educate! Teach everyone about the signs, symptoms, and severity of food allergies in general before narrowing in on your specific situation. It might be helpful to bring this up at a staff meeting where everyone is present in the room to hear your concerns. If this sounds intimidating, ask your boss whether they can address it at an upcoming staff meeting. You can also open the discussion up to co-workers and ask if anyone else has a food allergy or knows someone with a food allergy. Chances are someone will; this could help give you support in the pursuit of an allergy-safe lunchroom.

Thirdly, stay positive! Positivity is contagious (in my opinion). If you hit a speed bump in the road, you don’t turn around and say “I give up.” You slow down and keep driving. The same idea applies to this process. Stay positive, do what you can, and keep pushing for that lunchroom!

Lastly, you can always contact the company’s Human Resources department and explain your concerns. The members of this department are trained to help bring staff concerns forward and work on a feasible solution. It may require a little back-and-forth communication; but something important like this is worth putting in a little extra effort.

These tips may not entirely secure an allergy-safe lunchroom; but, if you’ve done everything in your power, then at least you can say you tried! I’d be willing to bet that a reasonable solution will be found if you keep an open mind and never give up on what you want. Have you had successes or challenges putting an allergy-friendly lunchroom into place in your workplace? Comment below!

 

Dylan

 

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We are really happy that you’ve found our blog and hope it can be a valuable resource for you. We try to cover topics that are unique to allergic adults, such as allergies in the workplace, relationships, travel and more! All with the focus on YOU – an allergic adult. We have an active team of writers who will be providing stories, tips, and advice on various topics through their own experiences managing allergies.

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Food Dependent, Exercise-Induced Anaphylaxis 

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Being a young adult with allergies, I have grown up learning all the ins-and- outs of my allergies and how to manage them.  Since the age of one, I have been identified as being allergic to wheat, eggs, nuts, and have also had other allergies that I’ve been fortunate enough to grow out of. Like others who have grown up with allergies, I became proficient in knowing what each of my allergic reactions were like, the severity of each reaction, and what works for managing and staying safe with my allergies.  Over the years, I have become quite comfortable with my abilities to manage avoiding food allergens. And, while I’ve had the occasional reaction to wheat or eggs, I have been fortunate never to come in contact with nuts—which put me at risk for anaphylaxis. That being said, I recently had a different kind of allergic reaction which I was unprepared for, and knew very little about.  This allergic reaction is something known as ‘food dependent, exercise induced anaphylaxis’ or FDEIA.    Some of us may be aware of the ability of exercise to exacerbate medical conditions such as asthma; but this can also be true for food allergens or foods we are not even normally allergic to.  FDEIA is defined as a rare, unpredictable syndrome characterized by anaphylaxis associated with the ingestion of a food and the occurrence of exercise.

I won’t go too in depth. But I want to share part of my experiences with an exacerbated allergic reaction related to exercise.  Currently I go to school and live in Kingston.  My living arrangements involve housing with a great group of girls who have all been extremely accommodating towards my allergies.  My one housemate had done some baking one afternoon and was kind enough to make her baking ‘allergy friendly’ for me.  She had finished making her goods before I was about to go for a run. And, being assured it was free of my allergens, I indulged in her baking before starting my exercise.  Briefly into my run, I noticed a slight ‘tickle in my throat’ and the idea crossed my mind that my body could be mildly reacting to something.  I then made the poor decision to keep going (thinking that the tickle in my throat couldn’t really be a reaction).  I then noticed my breathing was becoming a bit more labored and uncomfortable.  I again made a poor judgment call and attributed this to just being a normal shortness of breath from the progression of my run.  I can’t stress enough how things quickly escalated from there.  My breathing became extremely labored, my eyes started swelling, and my body became extremely itchy on its extremities.  I also began experiencing a variety of uncomfortable GI symptoms and started to become progressively light headed—which was,  likely, from my blood pressure dropping.  This was an extremely dangerous situation to be in.  I had always been a very confident and regular runner and, in this situation, had no medicine or phone with me. I will admit that, at that point, carrying an auto-injector was never part of my usual running routine.   In this case, I still marvel at how fortunate I was that, while this was occurring, I was able to get help and receive medical attention.

What was extremely eye opening to me in this situation, and what I really want to share, was how long it took me to fully recognize that I was actually experiencing a severe life threatening allergic reaction.  With my allergies, on a day-to-day basis, I felt quite confident in my ability to identify allergy risks and when a reaction was starting. In this situation, however, I didn’t identify the progression of this reaction early enough.  It never crossed my mind that I was at risk for experiencing a severe allergy attack until it had progressed to such that level.  It was only after I was treated for this reaction that I was told about Food Dependent, Exercise Induced Anaphylaxis that things really became clear.  It was found my personal reaction was triggered by spelt (as species of wheat which my housemate thought was gluten free but in fact was not).  While having spelt would cause me to have an allergic reaction, it normally would never have caused such the severe reaction I subsequently experienced that day.  Exercise itself has also been found to be capable of inducing anaphylaxis (known as Exercise-induced Anaphylaxis) or ,with FDEIA, it can be related to a combination of food consumption and exercising.  As mentioned earlier, with FDEA, it has been found that both foods someone is aware they are allergic to, and sometimes even foods that don’t normally cause an allergic reaction, can trigger FDEA.  Research has been done on these topics and, while there is still a need for more, it is an interesting subject to look into and educate yourself about. It is important, as individuals who have managed our allergies for some time, to still be aware of different reactions and risks with allergies that can occur, and to always work to stay educated and safe.

Caitlyn 

Explaining Allergies to Your Roommates

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For the better part of the last eight years, like many of us, I’ve lived with roommates. As someone at risk for anaphylaxis, stemming from allergies to various nuts, I am very careful about both choosing my roommates and about being very forward when it comes to explaining my allergies and the precautions that need to be taken to ensure that I feel safe in my own home. The following will detail some measures I have taken to stay safe over the years.

I have been fortunate to live with roommates who have been both long-time friends and family over the years. These individuals are familiar with my allergies and have been in various situations with me (at restaurants and traveling for hockey and vacationing abroad). Nonetheless, one must be particularly careful to not have a false sense of security simply because those you live with are familiar with your allergies and the precautions required for you to stay safe. Put simply, all it takes is one mistake on your part or the part of a roommate. I find that a simple chat when you first move into a new place, and some friendly reminders as time goes on, goes a long way.

Cooking and doing dishes when you have roommates can be a challenge at the best of times. I’ve found that having all my own personal pots, pans, utensils, and plates and bowls to be very smart way to ensure that no cross-contamination occurs. Additionally, while I’ve had dishwashers at every place I have lived, I hand-wash every one of my dishes. That is to say, not all dishwashers are equally effective when it comes to cleaning your dishes. Nor can you always count on your roommates to avoid consuming food products that have even “may contain” warnings on the labels. At the end of the day, it is your responsibility to look out for your own safety. And I’ve found that following these courses of action to take stressing about cross-contamination out of the equation.

Something as simple as brushing your teeth, if you share a bathroom, can be a potentially dangerous situation. But, again, if you stick to a safe method, it can make a world of difference. I’ve found that keeping my toothbrush, toothpaste, and mouthwash in my own kit, a travel kit to be specific, prevents me from worrying about my toothbrush touching those of my roommates, worrying about someone using my toothpaste or worrying about someone using my mouthwash (guests included). Additionally, always make sure your roommates and guests know where your auto-injector are at all times.

While no method can completely overcome simple human error, on your part of the part of your roommates, these have been the methods that have works for me over the years. What methods have worked for you and what additional methods might you suggest? 

Aaron S. 

By Food Allergy Canada