Understanding your cosmetics

What about allergens in cosmetics?

Asian attractive happy woman choosing and reading food labels with ingredients on a box from its shelf at the supermarket or convenience store.

Many substances, natural or man-made, have the potential to cause an allergic reaction. An allergic reaction occurs when a person’s immune system reacts to substances that are harmless to most people. A substance that causes an allergic reaction is called an allergen.

Cosmetics and personal care products may contain ingredients that can be allergenic for some people. This does not mean that the product is not safe for others to use.

European law requires cosmetics and personal care products to have an ingredient list on the label or on the packaging. The ingredient list can help people with known allergies avoid products containing the ingredients that affect them.

Across Europe standardised ingredient names, known as International Nomenclature Cosmetic Ingredient (INCI) names, help people easily identify ingredients.

If you believe you are having an allergic reaction, here are the steps you can take:

  • Immediately wash the product off and stop using it
  • If necessary, seek medical advice. Be sure to talk to a medical professional about what product or substance might be triggering your reaction. If possible, bring the product with you. Your medical professional may be able to recommend tests to determine the specific cause and may recommend treatment for your symptoms
  • Contact the manufacturer so that they are aware that someone has experienced a reaction to their product.


Cosmetics matter to people and play an important role in our everyday life. On average European consumers use over seven different cosmetics daily. You too? It’s only natural that you want to know more about the ingredients in those products.

In the digital world we live in, there’s a deluge of information on cosmetics. However, it can be difficult to know which sources are reliable. COSMILE Europe is a European cosmetic ingredient database that offers reliable, verified and scientifically supported information on almost 30,000 ingredients used in cosmetics.

This database will help you understand why certain ingredients are in your cosmetic products; which properties they have and much more. The database is currently available in fourteen languages with more to come.

Search the Database

Why our information is reliable

All information in COSMILE Europe comes from verified sources and is based on independent expert knowledge.

The list of ingredients and what they do comes from the European Commission’s CosIng database, an official source of information on cosmetic substances and ingredients. Learn more by clicking here.

More detailed information on ingredient properties, whether they are man-made and/or of natural origin, in which types of products the ingredients can be found, etc… comes from independent experts and scientific assessments published by European and national expert bodies.