How To Handle Allergic Reactions to Hair Serums

Beautiful young woman applying serum onto her healthy long hair at home

Key Points

  • An allergic reaction is the immune system rejecting a foreign substance, causing itchiness, redness, hives, and — in extreme cases — difficulty breathing.

  • The most common symptoms of an allergic reaction to hair serum include itching, redness, and swelling of the skin on the scalp.

  • If you're having an allergic reaction to your hair serum, stop using it immediately and see a doctor to determine what ingredient you're allergic to.

  • To avoid reactions, use a top-rated hypoallergenic hair serum, and always start with a patch test.

Dealing with allergic reactions to hair serums? Use the tips below to determine your allergen and invest in one of these top hypoallergenic serums.

Are you experiencing itchiness, redness, or swelling on your scalp after using hair serums? It could be an allergic reaction. In this comprehensive guide, learn about the symptoms, causes, and steps to handle allergic reactions to hair serums.

Understand the common allergens to watch out for, learn how to determine your specific allergen and explore top-rated hypoallergenic options to enjoy the benefits of hair serums without risk. Take control of your hair care routine and find relief from allergic reactions to enjoy soft, healthy, luxurious hair without irritation.

Allergic Reactions

An allergic reaction is an overreaction of your immune system to a foreign substance called an allergen. An allergen is anything that your body doesn't recognize as "self," such as pollen, dust mites, pet dander, certain foods, insect stings, and beauty products.

When you come into contact with an allergen, your immune system produces antibodies called immunoglobulin E. These antibodies attach to mast cells, which are in your skin, airways, and digestive tract. When the mast cells come into contact with the allergen again, they release chemicals that cause allergy symptoms such as itchiness, hives, rashes, or a runny nose.

An allergic reaction to hair serum can cause a variety of symptoms, depending on the severity of the reaction. Mild reactions may cause itching, redness, and swelling of the skin on the scalp. More severe reactions can cause hives, swelling of the face, lips, and tongue, difficulty breathing, and anaphylaxis, which is a life-threatening allergic reaction.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, "An itchy, dry, and flaky scalp could be telling you that you need to do a better job of rinsing the shampoo from your hair. Leaving some shampoo on your scalp can irritate it… You could also have an allergy to a shampoo, conditioner, or other product that touches your scalp. If that's the case, you'll likely have an itchy rash on your scalp and any other skin that the product touches."

The symptoms of an allergic reaction to hair serum usually occur within minutes or hours of applying the product to the scalp. If you experience any of these symptoms after using hair serum, it's important to stop using the product and see a doctor.

Other more mild reactions to a hair serum include itchiness, flaking, dryness, and redness. While these symptoms don't necessarily indicate an allergic reaction, they do indicate an intolerance or rejection of the product you're using. This could also lead to an allergic reaction. Stop use immediately and see a doctor if symptoms persist or worsen.

Ingredients Causing a Reaction

To determine what's causing your reaction, see a doctor, dermatologist, or allergist. While there's a wide variety of possible ingredients causing your reaction, there are common allergens that may be the culprit:

  • Parabens: Parabens are preservatives used to prevent the growth of bacteria and mold in hair products. They're the most common type of allergen in hair serums.

  • Formaldehyde: Formaldehyde is a preservative in some hair serums that prevents the growth of bacteria and mold. Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen and can cause allergic reactions.

  • Propylene glycol: Propylene glycol is a solvent in hair serums that helps the product spread evenly and attracts moisture. Propylene glycol causes allergic reactions in some people.

  • Lanolin: Lanolin is a waxy substance derived from sheep's wool used in hair serums as a moisturizer and conditioner. Lanolin causes allergic reactions in some people, especially those who are allergic to wool.

  • Fragrance: Fragrance is a mixture of essential oils and other chemicals that add a pleasant smell to hair products. Fragrance is a common allergen, and it's difficult to know exactly what's in the fragrance blend.

  • Essential oils: Essential oils are plant extracts used in hair serums for their fragrance and other properties. Essential oils can cause skin irritation or allergic reactions in some people.

  • Colorants: Colorants add color to hair products. They're either natural or synthetic and a common allergen.

Once you determine what's causing your reaction, avoid it. Check the ingredients in your hair serum, shampoo and conditioner, lotion, face wash, and all other products. The more you're exposed to an allergen, the more antibodies your body creates, and the worse your reaction is.

Choosing a Serum

When you decide to try another hair serum, find one that doesn't have your known allergen. If you tend to be sensitive to allergic reactions, choose a serum that's hypoallergenic. Do a patch test before you use the product all over your hair to ensure your body doesn't react poorly to it. Hair serum reactions typically happen within the first few hours of application. If the coast is clear by the same time the next day, go ahead and use it properly!

If your scalp is sensitive to products, even without having a full allergic reaction, avoid getting serum on your scalp or other skin. This minimizes your risk of a reaction and allows you to still enjoy the magic of hair serums!

Many allergen-free serums use natural oils such as argan oil and jojoba oil. You could also use these oils by themselves, cold-pressed and pure!

Top Hypoallergenic Hair Serums

To avoid having a reaction, use a hair serum that's hypoallergenic. This means that it's free from common allergens, giving you peace of mind when using it on your hair and scalp. You should still do a patch test when you're using a new product to ensure your body is okay with it.

Renewing + Argan Oil of Morocco Penetrating Hair Oil Treatment
$5.89 ($1.78 / Fl Oz)

by OGX 

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09/19/2023 08:37 pm GMT

OGX Renewing Moroccan Argan Oil Penetrating Oil

Try a hypoallergenic, drug-store-available, budget-friendly, and extremely effective hair serum. OGX Renewing Moroccan Argan Oil Penetrating Oil renews your hair by digging deep into your hair and sealing in nutrients. All hair types and textures love the softening moisture from this serum. The natural power of argan oil is hypoallergenic and feels so natural on your hair.

Argan Oil Smoothing Serum
$9.99 ($2.00 / Fl Oz)

by Soapbox 

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09/20/2023 06:48 am GMT

Soapbox Argan Oil Smoothing Serum

Enjoy the amazing benefits of argan oil, vitamin E, and shea butter in one hypoallergenic, vegan serum — Soapbox Argan Oil Smoothing Serum. This spray reduces frizz, repairs hair, hydrates shafts and protects against heat damage. It's ideal for dry, damaged, and color-treated hair, as it easily absorbs and nourishes your locks. Achieve ultimate flyaway control and overall smoothness by using this hypoallergenic serum spray!

Amazon customer review of Soapbox Argan Oil Smoothing Serum

Photo Source: Amazon

If you deal with stubborn frizziness, give this product a chance!

Magic Serum Fragrance Free
$36.00 ($36.00 / Fl Oz)

by SEEN 

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09/20/2023 06:48 am GMT

SEEN Magic Serum

SEEN Magic Serum is free from fragrance, sulfates, silicones, phthalates, parabens, dyes, pore-clogging oils, formaldehyde, and gluten. It's perfect for anyone with sensitive skin, as well as people with color or keratin-treated hair. This serum elevates your hair by reducing frizz, increasing shine, strengthening shafts, and giving you a luxurious, smooth look!

This clear serum also protects your hair against UV rays, pollution, and heat styling up to 450 degrees. It gives you all the benefits of hair serums in one hypoallergenic serum!

Treat Your Hair and Scalp Gently

Allergic reactions to hair serums are frustrating and uncomfortable. By understanding the symptoms, causes, and allergens to watch out for, you can take proactive steps to minimize the risk of a reaction. Nourish your scalp.

Always consult with a medical professional to identify your specific allergen and seek recommendations for hypoallergenic hair serums. With the right knowledge and products, you can enjoy the benefits of hair serums without the worry of allergic reactions. Take charge of your hair care routine and enjoy the pleasure of healthy, soft, and beautiful hair.

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