News of the class-action suit against the insanely popular EOS brand of lip balms caught us all by surprise. Could these colorful spheres of cuteness—and the always-addictively fun flavors they contain inside—really be causing harm?
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According to the suit, filed by Rachael Cronin, they did. She claims the balm (specifically, the “Summer Fruit” version) made her lips feel like “sandpaper,” which was followed by cracking on the edges and ultimately resulted in “severe blistering and rashes” around the surrounding skin by the next day. Her case was so bad, she claims, that she had to seek medical attention and the condition ended up lasting for 10 days.
That’s a scary scenario and accusation, but before you go tossing your EOS lip balms, consider that the chance of this actually happening to you is somewhere in the “winning the Powerball” numbers. “Flavors and fragrances are complex mixtures of many components,” says cosmetic chemist Kelly Dobos. “The likely source of this allergic reaction is the flavor, which includes a compound called linalool that on exposure to air can oxidize and that oxidized form of the molecule is a potential allergen. Different people react differently to allergens, and only a very small percentage of the population reacts to this allergen. Published data indicate a range of 1 to 4 percent of the population experience allergic reactions to fragrance/flavor. So unless you are experiencing irritation, there’s no need to toss your EOS balm.”
“From the pictures, it looks like some people [in the suit] got a contact dermatitis or a perioral dermatitis, which are both types of allergic reactions,” explains Montclair, NJ, dermatologist Jeanine B. Downie, MD. “Any product can cause an allergy at any time, for no reason and this includes products you have been using for awhile.”
Image/ EOS Instagram
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