Having an allergic reaction to a natural skincare product – all part of the learning curve!
I love my job, I really do. I’m one of those annoying people who is chirpy on a Sunday evening at the thought of another week in aromatherapy heaven. Part of the reason I love my job is because I am slightly obsessed with beauty products. Throughout my late 20’s and 30’s this made me miserable because there were virtually no beauty products I could use that I wasn’t allergic to. Those that were all gorgeous, natural and organic were pretty much out of my price range. This is EXACTLY why I launched LJ’s Natural Solutions, so that I could bring affordable and genuinely natural, safe products to people. I’ve done that – tick!
Now onto ongoing product improvements, or NPD as we used to call it in my old sales & marketing life; you’ve got to know your market, you’ve got to see what the competitors are doing, and you’ve got to inspect their ingredients, blurb and packaging. For this reason I treat myself to sample sizes of other lovely organic products. Sometimes I just sniff them and inspect the packaging. However, having had near on 5 years of trouble free skin, last week I got cocky, I got a sample, it was for sensitive skin, I liked the look of it, I smothered my face in it, I thought no more of it.
24 hours later, I got the horrible feeling I had made a mistake, my face felt hot and prickly. I washed it in warm water and inspected it; it was red, and sore, but nothing more. I put nothing on it and went to bed, hoping it would be fine by morning. But no, by morning I looked like a cabbage patch doll, my face was horrible, incredibly swollen and shiny, I was having difficulty opening my left eye. I was not only mortified and embarrassed, I was so so angry with myself. I’m aware of the patch test rules: if you are using a new products, you need to put a tiny spot behind your ear, and in the inside of your elbow and wait a minimum of 24 hrs, if not 72!
I brushed my hair over my face, and did the school run looking closely at my shoes, avoiding all eye contact. I not only looked terrible, but it was so painful too. When I got home, I washed my face again and scraped my hair back and smothered my face in scratchy balm. Whilst ran my fingers over my cheeks, I could feel all the water under the skin, it was like bubble-wrap, I felt sick. Luckily the scratchy balm helped almost immediately with the discomfort. I took anti-histamine and some ibuprofen and drank gallons of water. I ate apples all day too. My sunglasses were located and I pressed on with the day.
I checked out the offending sample in more detail, it was all natural ingredients, all of which I have used before, except Macadamia Nut oil. Now I’m a bit iffy with nuts anyway, so I’m guessing it’s the macadamia that’s to blame. Even angrier with myself for not patch-testing properly.
The following morning…
The redness was subsiding but the swelling wasn’t at all. I very very rarely go to the GP but I have never had such a severe swelling reaction before. So I went to see the Doctor because I was feeling quite worried. She confirmed that it was a severe allergic reaction. The swelling was not abnormal in such cases and it would just take a while to come down. “Don’t use that cream again,” she advised …… no danger of that.
After 4 days of careful eating, gallons of water, gentle facial massage using scratchy balm, my normal face emerged. Man, was I glad to see it. It’s now a week on and there is no lasting damage. Apart from me feeling like an idiot. Thank heavens for scratchy balm and sunglasses; I don’t know what I would have done without them.
If I had to find a positive in all this, it’s that I can tell you, my lovely customers, I know what it feels like to have very uncomfortable skin. And it has reminded me exactly why I do this, why I spend hours pouring over natural ingredients, and making things, testing them and then coming up with the best possible solution for sensitive skin.
I can’t tell you how hard I work to get my products right.
I’m sharing this story with you so you remember that patch tests should never be under-estimated! I spend all week telling my customers to patch test and to read ingredients. Sometimes we need a big old reminder to practice what we preach.
If you have extremely sensitive skin, remember to be kind to it every day. Even when you think you are doing fine. I’m fine now, and maybe in a month or so I will laugh about this.