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Your makeup may be giving you a headache

Reviewed by Marta August 9, 2009 10 Comments
A couple of days ago, I received an email from someone in Australia who had tried Folligen for hair loss and awoke the next day to a raging headache. Other readers have mentioned this, so I felt obliged to take a look at the ingredients in Folligen. My research suggests that the copper itself - the main active responsible for helping hair regrowth and eyelash growth - could be the culprit. However, as I dug around further, I found that there is a strong (circumstantial) link to parabens and migraines and many examples of people ditching their paraben-packed eye shadow and becoming headache free.

As for my Aussie correspondent, it is conceivably the copper that is causing the headaches. There are folks who suffer from copper allergies and the symptoms can be severe (although note that this description of copper side effects is at 100% concentrations). Why do I think it is that rather than the parabens in Folligen (see below for the list of ingredients in Folligen)? Because he is a man. Read on and all will be revealed.

Web sites devoted to migraine cite plenty of anecodatal evidence of links between parabens and headaches. However, I couldn't find any specific studies that showed a positive cause and effect (or otherwise - it doesn't seem to have been researched). But we do know that parabens are xenoestrogens. This means that they mimic the estrogen hormone and it is this that leads some experts to speculate that there is a link between parabens and cancer. Now estrogen is also responsible for the monthly migraine that accompanies my cycle.

So, logically, absorption of xenoestrogens via makeup and skincare products could lead to more frequent hormone-related headaches. If you do an internet search on parabens and headaches, you will find plenty of women saying how they started getting headaches with the use of a product that contains parabens and that symptoms stopped when they eliminated the product from their routine.

Now all of this could be putting two and two together and making seven. However, recent studies have started to investigate the levels of estrogen in our face creams, suggesting that women are exposing themselves unknowingly on a daily basis.. I will keep researching the subject and post again if I connect anymore dots.

Ingredients in Folligen Cream

Purified water, aloe barbadensis leaf juice (aloe vera) gel, copper peptides (hydrolyzed soy protein and cupric chloride), squalane, glyceryl stearate, PEG-100 stearate, ethylhexyl palmitate, stearic acid, cetyl alcohol, polysorbate 80, cupric chloride, saw palmetto oil, beta-sitosterol, allantoin, propylene glycol, methylparaben, propylparaben, diazolidinyl urea, tocophersolan (Vitamin E), menthol, lavandula augustifolia (lavender) oil, fragrance, mixed (alpha, beta, gamma, delta) tocopherols.
  • November 1, 2015

    by Ivian

    To Angie June 5, 2015
    I also recently started experiencing headaches when a wear eye makeup. Something that I do about 5 times a year. Due that I have a very, extremely sensitive skin around my eyes. I can't even put face cream around them. I can't wear make up at all on my daily life. I've been like this for about 5 year now. Got kind of used to go around without make up on my eyes. I've tried everything. Recently bought 100 percent pure from USA. got it on line. Very disappointed to find out. I can't wear it on a daily vases. I would love to find something out there that allow me to wear make up everyday...

  • October 1, 2015

    by Jen

    I discovered that liquid foundation causes severe pain in the side / back of my neck, which turns into what is usually a silent migraine (this is a migraine where half your head / face goes numb. Disconcerting to say the least). The neck pain was so severe that it was intolerable.

    As with many weird allergies, it took a while to figure out what the cause was. I switched to powder foundation and the migraines stopped, along with most of the neck pain. I can use the liquid as concealer in very small amounts, but applying the foundation face-wide is definitely a bad thing.

    I suspect that part of it is that the liquid doesn't allow the skin to breathe as well, as well as the fact that the skin absorbs the liquid stuff. The skin is the largest organ our bodies have, and absorbing all those ingredients (toxic or not) into your body is going to have an effect at some point - especially for those of us who are sensitive.

    The makeup in question, ironically, was the only brand that did not make my skin break out. It was also labeled hypoallergenic and safe for sensitive skin (as were the others I reacted to - hypoallergenic means nothing). No breakout was supposed to mean no reaction. Guess not.

  • June 5, 2015

    by angie

    To anna's comments on 9/11/11, I also get migraines from make up. I've tried everything there is, I think. My left eye starts hurting, like pressure, and I get the whole migraine nausea experience. Mineral make up that has any sparkle or metallic to is does make my eyes itch too. I was fine until I had a make up skin care party from MK. I had a reaction to it and have never been the same. I wish there was something we could use as a barrier on the skin so that make up would be possible. I can only wear mineral make up a couple hours with Benadryl, still suffering, but survive it. The migraine is not worth it most of the time, which makes me sad.

  • November 2, 2014

    by Johanna

    Hi Ally,yes ime the same ,I have allergys with all face creams also mascara which I wore for years now that gives me headaches and sore,watery eyes even shampoos again I have tried every shampoo and can only use head and shoulders because again the others will cause me headaches and sore eyes. Somebody told me about the aloe vera face cream from the body shop so ime off to buy some.

  • October 29, 2014

    by Ally

    I agree with the face cream headaches. Have also found that oil-based concealer (used liberally!) has brought on a migraine :( Have come to the conclusion it has somehow affected my sinuses when I have used it on my cheeks (broken veins). Seems to give me all the symptoms of maxillary sinus problems = massive long lasting migraine. Anyone else found the same?

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