I Became Allergic to Mascara — Here's What I Did About It


I am a self-proclaimed make-up junkie, and I love a good product as much as the next girl. Growing up and throughout my college years, Sephora was my happy place. Though I have quite an extensive make-up collection, I also admit that I’m ironically a bit of a minimalist when it comes to the products I use on a daily basis. I’m the mom who — between work, and my three kids — is lucky if I have enough time to throw on a coat of mascara in the morning.

A few months before my 30th birthday, I went on a date night with my husband and used my staple products, including the same mascara that I’ve been brand loyal to since my college days. During my morning run the following day, I noticed a slight rash underneath both of my eyes. I shrugged it off — maybe something from the previous night had irritated my skin. It went away a couple days later, and I continued on with life. At that point, I was wearing mascara about twice a week — minimalist with make-up, remember? I wore mascara a second time that week and awoke with another rash, this time worse than the first.

Naturally, as luck would have it, the rash happened to occur right before my oldest daughter’s cheer competition, so I was stuck walking looking sickly all weekend. While out and about with my 1 year old twins in their stroller at the competition, I'm positive I looked like a Walking Dead extra the entire time.

It’s important to note that I wasn’t yet sure what was causing the reactions, but by now, I had a hunch. After another week of experimentation, I determined that it was my mascara — cue all of the sad feelings. At first I thought that my actual tube was contaminated. I promptly bought a new tube of that particular brand, confident the issue would be resolved. Not only did I awake the following morning with the worst rash yet, but my eyes were so swollen and thick with drainage that I wasn’t able to drive for 24 hours. It took about a week for the reaction to fully subside, and I was frustrated. Three brands later, and I hadn’t made any progress.

I booked an appointment with my dermatologist, who then analyzed the ingredients in each of the mascaras I had tried and suspected a quaternium allergy. Upon delving a little deeper, I learned that quaternium is a formaldehyde-releasing skin toxicant and allergen! I pride myself on using safe skincare products and being conscious of what I’m eating, and it was a huge reality check that I was skimping on my cosmetics — and clearly paying for it.

As many loyal mascara users will tell you, taking away our staple product can leave us feeling less than beautiful. I took it upon myself to find the perfect mascara that would not only give me the full lash effect I craved, but wouldn’t give me a nasty reaction in the process. Several brands later, I was left with less confidence and a smaller bank account. Eco-friendly mascaras just weren’t giving me the gorgeous lashes that my previous products had. I decided to be thankful that these cleaner products were “better than nothing” and moved on.

This month, I received the Manna Kadar Flutter Mascara in my Mom Box and thought, it’ll be nice to try another product — but it probably won’t work for me. After all, none of the others really had. When I opened the tube, the mascara seemed thinner than many of the others I had tried, further increasing my skepticism. Let me tell you — I was absolutely blown away! Not only did the mascara glide on smoothly, but it worked better that my past products! I was shocked, never expecting such great results from a safe product. I thought for sure that I’d wake up in hives the following morning, but I never did! I kept using the mascara day after day without any side effects aside from beautiful lashes. Finally, after months of searching for a safer mascara with real results, I had found it! Manna K, I am now your biggest fan!

I have now committed to replacing all of my cosmetics with safer counterparts that will make me feel beautiful, without compromising my health. Even if I only wear a full face of make-up on the occasional date night with my husband, that doesn’t mean I want products on my skin that are linked to cancer or endocrine disruption. Our skin is our largest organ, and much of what we place onto it is absorbed directly into the bloodstream. It’s just not worth it!


  • by Hollie on

    I have the same questions that Gail asked!

  • by Gail Benko on

    I realize this bog entry is three years old I have the same allergy to quaternium 15 and have been having problems with all eye makeup. Are you still using this manna kadar mascara? Any eyeliner that you have found? Thanks!

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