Nut free toiletries and cosmetics

How much attention do you pay to ingredients labels on your toiletries and cosmetics?

I recently heard from Sharon, about recommendations for nut free hair products. She had come across the following information on the Aveda website (as at 9 April 2014), that Aveda:

Aveda nut allergy information

I remember having a nervous moment, in the early days following my son’s peanut allergy diagnosis, when it dawned on me that my Aussie hair products and Burt’s Bees cosmetics contained nut oils. I binned the lip glosses but asked our hospital about the shampoo and conditioner. They advised me it shouldn’t be a problem, particularly given any nut oil in shampoos and conditioners is likely to be highly refined. I have continued to buy Aussie (containing macadamia nut oil) but do check the labels on new products for references to “arachis oil” (peanut oil) or other nut oils. I also say “no” to cuticle oil when having a manicure, in case that too contains peanut or nut oils.

Am I being too lax, still using shampoo containing a nut oil?  Is it necessary to scrutinise every toiletries label for mention of nuts?

Reading the Aveda warning prompted me to delve into the issue of nut containing toiletries and cosmetics a little deeper…

nut_free_toiletries

Should nut allergic people avoid toiletries and cosmetics containing nuts or nut oils?

The Anaphylaxis Campaign’s view is yes. Their factsheet on this topic notes:

“From the start it is important to point out that little is known about the allergenic risk from food ingredients that are present in [cosmetics, toiletries etc]. As far as many products are concerned, that risk may be small or non-existent because the ingredients used (for example, oils produced from nuts) may have been highly refined to the point that most of the proteins present have been removed.”

However, their advice is:

“If you are allergic to a food, and know it is present in a non-food product, avoid using that product. “

And for cosmetics:

“The key message is: Always read the label whenever you buy any cosmetic product.”

Ingredients labelling for toiletries and cosmetics

According to the Allergy UK site, EU law requires:

“all the ingredients to be included in the label for soaps, cosmetics and ‘personal care products’.  This classification is taken to include any preparation that is applied to the skin, eyes, mouth, hair or nails for the purpose of cleansing, giving a pleasant smell or enhancing appearance.”

Unlike food labels, for toiletries, the ingredients can be given in Latin. Both Allergy UK and the Anaphylaxis Campaign have translation lists. Examples of nut ingredients include:

  • Almond, bitter – Prunus amara
  • Almond, sweet (and almond oil) – Prunus dulcis
  • Brazil nut – Bertholletia excelsa
  • Cashew – Anacardium occidentale
  • Hazelnut – Corylus rostrata/americana/avellana
  • Macadamia nut  – Macadamia ternifolia
  • Peanut – Arachis hypogaea
  • Pistachio – Pistacia vera
  • Walnut – Juglans regia/nigra

US website, Bestallergysites.com notes that peanut oil may be listed as “arachis oil” or “arachidyl behenate”.

Nut free toiletries and cosmetics: recommendations?

As regards “nut free” products, the SkinsMatter website is worth a look as this showcases “free from” skin care brands.  One of the entry criteria for their FreeFrom Skincare Awards is that products must not contain”Peanut / peanut-derived ingredients”. Products may also be tree nut free, as entries must exclude three or more of “wheat, gluten, dairy, sesame, tree nuts, soya and egg”. They have a page dedicated to Skincare ranges free from food allergens.

Does anyone have a recommendation for peanut and nut safe toiletries and cosmetics? (particularly hair care brands to help Sharon and I!) If so, please do post a comment below – I would love to hear from you!

Further information

4 comments

  1. If your son is only allergic to peanuts and not other tree nuts, you should be fine with almost all products. Peanuts are legumes and not tree nuts, and are rarely (in my experience) used in skin care products.
    However, if he has other tree nut allergies as well as peanuts, be careful because coconut oil, Shea butter, cocoa butter, almond oil, macadamia oil, walnut shells (in scrubs), etc. are in tons of products!
    Speaking as someone allergic to both legumes and tree nuts, and struggling to find nut free eczema relief.

    1. Hi Amanda…where are you from? I have some information I’d like to pass on to you. My son used to suffer from eczema as well.

  2. Hi I have recently found that I am allergic to nuts and peanuts, what surprised me most was nut oils found in toiletries and cosmetics affected me too. I have localized swelling, itching, hives, and asthma from using argan oil( didn’t realize it was a nut) hair products. I even have to check my mascara as manufacturers are using argan oil as a wonder product in all things it seems. I hope this is not an insight to our future a life without makeup, hair conditioner and moisturizers will be a hard task as I get older….eeek!

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