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We all use beauty products on a regular basis – soap, shampoo, lotion, cologne, and make-up to name a few. Oftentimes, we fail to scan through the list of ingredients at the back of the container before throwing a beauty product into our shopping cart, overlooking the possibility of an ingredient or two, which we might be allergic to.

A study found that more than a third of people have had an allergic reaction to a cosmetic ingredient. Skin reactions can come in two kinds of contact dermatitis – irritant and allergic. Irritant contact dermatitis happens on the surface and includes itches, burns, or stings; while allergic contact dermatitis happens when the immune system gets upset and its symptoms include redness, swelling, itching and hives. It can be challenging to distinguish one type of reaction from another, and it is possible to have a combination of the two. Injuries from beauty products can come from allergic reactions to infections and other complications.

Tips on how to avoid allergic reactions to cosmetic products

  • Before using any product, do a patch test. You can do this by putting a small amount on the inside of your elbow and waiting for 48 to 72 hours. Watch out for redness, itching, or burning; and if you experience these, do not use the product.
  • When using perfume or cologne, apply on clothes, not on your skin. This is to lessen the possibility of having an allergic reaction to the fragrance.
  • When choosing beauty products, go for those with fewer ingredients.
  • Labels such as “hypoallergenic” or “dermatologist tested” may seem reassuring, but there are no rules when it comes to the use of these labels on products.
  • Do not be misled by the word “natural” or “organic” on labels or product names. If you are allergic to the natural ingredient, you can have an allergic reaction to it.

Can you sue a cosmetic company for an allergic reaction?

Product liability and breach of warranty are two legal theories that plaintiffs can sue under.

  • Strict Product Liability. Most states follow what is called the “strict product liability.” Under this, a plaintiff needs to prove 1. that he or she is the type of consumer targeted by the company or the defendant; 2. that the defect in the product did not occur after it was purchased; and 3. that the plaintiff was indeed injured. It is called “strict liability” because it does not include many of the requirements that a negligence case requires. Most states adopt the “strict product liability” for mass-produced cosmetic products as they want manufacturers to be financially responsible for their products.
  • Breach of Warranty. A plaintiff can sue for breach of implied warranty that a product is suitable for normal use, or the implied guarantee that a product will not cause harm to the consumer. Moreover, a plaintiff can also sue for a breach of express warranty that a product is fit for a specific purpose.
  • Class Actions. A class action is possible if a certain product causes many or all of its users the same injury. In this case, multiple plaintiffs can sue the company in a single lawsuit.

Contact us at Hogan Injury for expert legal advice.

None of the content on is legal advice nor is it a replacement for advice from a certified lawyer. Please consult a legal professional for further information.

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