For her part in the acclaimed HBO series The White Lotus, Jennifer Coolidge received high accolades (and an Emmy award ). However, it turns out that the always humorous woman visited the hospital emergency room just before shooting the dramedy for a spray tan gone wrong, as she detailed in a new essay for Allure .
Prior to “starting to get allergic” to particular makeup products five or six years ago, the 61-year-old didn’t give the components in her beauty products any thought, she wrote. “My eyes would always be crying, but I never thought it was my makeup,” said the woman.
She apparently developed severe allergies after getting a spray tan before flying to Hawaii to film the first season of The White Lotus. “As soon as I boarded the aircraft, I started to feel quite strange. By the time I landed, I had to visit the ER, she continued, adding that for the remainder of the production, she kept to “normal makeup” and took a shower right away after wrapping each day. She did, however, mention that she had “such a rapid reaction to everything” and now tries to stick to paraben-free products. Coolidge did not disclose the exact substances she is allergic to or what type of reaction she had.
According to board-certified plastic surgeon Michele Koo, M.D., founder of Dr. Koo Private Practice , Coolidge’s experience with a spray tan is not unique. “Allergy symptoms occur often. You could assume your skin is just sensitive, but it could be an allergic reaction, the expert explains, noting that contact allergies can form after years of exposure. This means that even after using a product or chemical for years, your skin could suddenly start to react to it.
According to Rebecca Marcus, M.D., F.A.A.D., board-certified dermatologist and founder of Maei MD , hormonal changes with aging can also alter how skin responds to specific stimuli. Additionally, as formulae are frequently updated, it is possible to start reacting to a product that you previously did not.
Touch dermatitis refers to reactions that take place when a product comes into contact with your skin, as opposed to, say, atopic dermatitis (eczema), which is not brought on by a product or component. According to Dr. Marcus, this “may take the form of itchy pimples or redness and irritation on the skin.” It’s also possible to experience a systemic reaction, which may cause breathing difficulties as well as swelling of the lips, tongue, eyes, and body generally. Seek medical help immediately if this occurs, she advises. As Dr. Koo notes, “a true anaphylactic reaction would induce loss of blood pressure and an inability to breathe,” this is the “worst case scenario.”
There’s a reason why certain spray tans, in particular, could trigger allergic responses. Dr. Marcus claims that the spray-tan solution is chemically loaded. ICYDK: fragrance is the number one cause of allergic contact dermatitis, according to dermatologist and founder of the Pierre Skin Care Institute Peterson Pierre, M.D. Products almost always contain at least one, if not multiple fragrance ingredients to mask the odor of the most commonly used active ingredient, dihydroxyacetone. She says, “There may also be common allergies including phenoxyethanol, tocopherol, propylene glycol, and cocamidopropyl betaine.”
Additionally, according to Dr. Koo, the way a spray tan is applied may trigger a reaction. The worst culprits for producing eye irritation or inhalation irritation, according to Dr. Koo, are aerosolized sprays containing scent and preservatives (such formaldehyde). “Pump spray tans tend to be less allergenic, but any of the components might produce a serious reaction if they are sprayed into the eyes, mouth, or nose,” according to the manufacturer. However, the faux tan approach is still a better bet than spending time in the sun without enough SPF, so don’t panic and swear off spray tans forever.
Recent events seem to have caused the Legally Blonde actress to completely reevaluate “clean beauty.” Even cosmetics that is advertised as being clean—even from clean brands—needs to be used with extreme caution, she warned Allure. “They still contain unintentionally present materials. You are aware that using all of that stuff might not be beneficial for our health.
When testing out a new beauty product, there are a few things you may check for if you have sensitive skin. Dr. Marcus advises people with sensitive skin to look for hypoallergenic, fragrance-free cosmetics. While “clean chemicals” that are benign to the body are sometimes associated with “clean beauty,” products that rely more heavily on natural derivatives frequently include substances that are more allergenic, such as botanical compounds and essential oils. Dr. Koo generally advises against using products that contain phthalates, gluten, triclosan, petroleum, formaldehyde, toluene, organic solvents, or talc because they are known irritants, especially for skin types with sensitive skin.
If you’re worried about reactions to your cosmetic products, both experts advise consulting a dermatologist or allergy specialist. They can help you identify the exact allergens and irritants that affect your skin and direct you toward products that are mild and safe for it.