Argan oil update: tree nut allergy?

In true blogger form, I have been trying a lot of products lately, and a lot of natural products, I should add.

Of course, in trying a lot of products, I have learned something about myself: I may have developed a sensitivity to tree nuts. Wonderful.

While this may seem like an odd allergy, it is not so rare and any Google search on tree nuts will produce a list of tree nuts to avoid eating if you have a full-on allergy. However, there seems to be little consumer information published on what beauty products to avoid if you have a contact allergy to tree nuts. I could not find a comprehensive list anywhere on the internet.

From my research, I have collected my own preliminary list of what to avoid in beauty products if you have a tree nut allergy: argan oil, almond oil, macadamia nut oil, shea butter, ginkgo biloba, and any derivation of walnuts such as walnut shell powder or Brazil nuts such as Brazil nut protein (in the Aveda Be Curly Style-Prep). In going back and inspecting all my beauty products, I have seen it all. There is also some debate on whether coconut oil should be added to the list, but I personally haven’t had a reaction to it. (Update: There is also some debate on whether shea butter should be on the list. I absolutely love the smell of shea butter but have yet to determine whether or not I react to it.)

So how did I discover my contact allergy to tree nuts?

It started with argan oil.

I used it on my hair for several months and loved it so much, I couldn’t see that it was the cause for a few random breakouts on the top of my back and the back of my neck. Then I started putting argan oil on my face. Bad idea.

The reaction took a few days to show up but within a few weeks I was majorly broken out. The day after I stopped using it my face began to calm down.

I still didn’t make the connection to tree nuts, though, and started using a makeup remover of olive oil, jojoba oil and almond oil. (My skin does not react to olive or jojoba oil.) Bad idea, again.

Within a week I was broken out. I’m talking deep, underground things. Gross. I knew the bumps weren’t actually pimples because they never came to a head. (Sorry, true.)

So I stopped using the product with almond oil and like before, my skin calmed down.

I have no problems with fruit or seed oils (my skin loves maracuja oil and jojoba oil!) but tree nut oils are a different story.

So why am I telling you this?

Because I think everyone needs to be aware of what they are putting on their skin and how their skin reacts to it.

I think from now on, I am going to avoid tree nut oils altogether, even on my hair, and go for something like grapeseed oil. Because who wants to risk touching their hair and then touching their face and breaking out? Not this girl.

NOTE: With the popularity of this post, I would just like to note that, as with anything I might say, you should always consult your doctor. I am not the lone resource on anything. I simply want to learn and share my experiences.

46 thoughts on “Argan oil update: tree nut allergy?

  1. Pingback: Misnomers: Kendi Oil or Kukui Nut Oil? | Beauty in the Breakdown

  2. I am also having a severe reaction to argan oil. I started using it in my hair a week ago and have been breaking out in this awful red, itchy, bumpy, burning rash over my hands, face, shoulders and head.

    • That sounds awful – worse than my reaction! Check your other beauty products for argan oil, including lip products, to reduce the chances of future reactions! A lot of companies are putting argan oil in their products now, so be careful!

      • i am having the same reaction. Is there any treatment for that, cream? medication? anything that helped? I am having a very strong reaction right now. What would you advice.

      • Try an antihistamine, and if that doesn’t work, go to the doctor. They will probably prescribe cortisone cream or an oral corticosteroid. I had the same problem, and it was diagnosed as allergic contact dermatitis. It took about two weeks to heal completely. Hope you feel better soon(er).

    • i brought shampoo and conditioner with argan oil. within a few days my scalp and lower neck was so itchy.. which in turn produced lumps and again so itchy. anywhere that my hair had contact become like this.. i contacted the shampoo company.. Schwarzkopf and they weren’t really interested.. there is no warnings on this shampoo so this should have to be addressed..

  3. Omigosh. I am so glad I stumbled upon your blog. I have a major allergy to tree nuts. I just bought some argan oil for my hair; I will give it away. Thanks for saving me from a very unpleasant experience

  4. Hi there
    Thank you for this very useful information. I do have a severe peanut (and possibly treenut) allergy but I do eat coconut with impunity (although I understand it’s a fruit rather than a nut, so maybe that’s why).
    Well done re all the research done!

  5. Thanks so much for this post! I tried using organic virgin 100% argan oil directly on my face and neck the past couple days. Today I woke up with what looks like a severe sunburn on my face, and especially my neck. Obviously I too have ‘allergic contact dermatitis’ to argan oil, and probably to the other tree nuts you listed. I had no idea! Am going to go through all my cosmetics and check for tree nuts. Again, thank you!

  6. Hi, we have also recently found out that my daughter has a peanut allergy. We’re avoiding everything related to treenuts as well, just in case.

    Thanks for this informative message, where can we get more information on what products my wife and daughter can use?

    • Steve: as I similarly told Naomi in reply to her comment, you will have to start by inspecting ingredients lists. Then of course ask your doctor, search for blogs, websites and online forums (and possibly even books) that talk about nut-free products (by typing in keywords like “nut free beauty products” “nut free conditioners” etc), and consult with family, friends, acquaintances and coworkers who have similar issues and can recommend products that worked for them. And if you keep reading my blog, usually I will mention when something is nut-free, and I always try to post the ingredients list for every product I review. So hopefully I can be a helpful resource to you and your family; although, like I said, you will have to pool many different resources until your wife and daughter find appropriate products! It may seem frustrating at times, but don’t give up! There is definitely life beyond a peanut allergy! P.S. I am currently working on a November Favorites blog post that will include a nut-free conditioner. 🙂

  7. I’m allergic to jojoba as well as tree nut oils. I’m having a horrible time finding anything that doesn’t break me out. My dermatologist wants me to just not wear any makeup ever. Really?!?!! Help!!!

    • Naomi, I definitely think that you can find suitable makeup. However, if you find you are allergic to a lot of things, the road to finding suitable products may be difficult and you will have to do a lot of trial and error, inspecting ingredients lists, asking your doctor, searching for blogs, websites and online forums (and possibly even books) that talk about allergen-free products, and consulting with family, friends, acquaintances and coworkers who have similar issues and can recommend products that worked for them. And if you keep reading my blog, usually I will mention when something is nut-free, and I always try to post the ingredients list for every product I review. So hopefully I can be a helpful resource to you; although, like I said, you will have to pool many different resources until you find what works best for you! P.S. Peter Thomas Roth squalane oil is a great alternative to the other oils you say you are allergic to. I will be including it in my November Favorites blog post I am working on currently. That blog post will also include a nut-free conditioner. 🙂

  8. Thanks for the replies. I know this may not about food and more about cosmetics but we have had some interesting experiences with the nuts in food issue in the last week that may benefit someone just starting on this journey (as we are):

    one manufacturer proudly stating to us through e-mail that they have no nuts on their premises making them “nut free” but they couldn’t account for their suppliers of pre-processed ingredients. Thankfully they will look into it for us so we wait with baited breath.
    Another company who is very large in this part of the world (Pam’s) who didn’t add peanuts as a possible allergen on their packaging and yet they have confirmed via e-mail that they do process nuts on the same line as this product.
    And Kinder Chocolate Santa’s that don’t list nuts or traces of nuts in this product. We are still waiting to hear from them if this is safe or an oversight.

    The lesson, despite what the label says always contact the manufacturer to confirm.

    We are also going through the house disposing of “arachis” products.

  9. I am looking for a facial oil right now but i am allergic to every good thing there is for the skin. I ran across Marula oil that is bad! I have never heard of the name so I Googled it, it’s in the same family of pistachios and cashews which are tree nuts so that was out of the picture I am still looking for a facial oil that is tree nut and sesamea seed free. any suggestions?? coconut should be find because its not a nut its a fruit ( I love cococut and im allergic to every nut there is [but everyone is differnt becareful!])

    • Squalane oil is the best alternative I has found. Some is derived from sharks so be careful if you’re looking for vegan. The rest is derived from olives, or the new Peter Thomas Roth one is derived from sugar cane, I believe. I will be posting about it soon, because I love it so much. Squalane is not a typical “oil” either.

  10. I never know what’s going to cause me to have a reaction. I am currently looking for info on kukui … is it truely a nut or a seed. My hairdresser uses it on me so I bought the product but am apprehensive to apply it myself ( my allergy seems to be more of a respiratory one) . Anyone.know anything regarding this ingredient

  11. This was incredibly helpful to read. I recently purchased Josie Maran Argan Oil light and I have been getting these deep, painful zit like things around my nose, mouth and cheeks which is not normal for me. Everything I read on other websites said it was wonderful and I was thinking that I was the only person with this problem! I will try the Maracuja oil first to see if it works. I would love to find some kind of face oil that will not break me out! Thanks so much!

  12. Glad I stumbled upon your post! I was looking at a new self-tanning cream called Tan Physics which has Argan oil in it and having extreme nut allergies I was trying to find some info on it before buying it and using it. You just saved me money and my skin 🙂 Thanks!!

  13. I also had nasty allergic dermatitis from using argan oil on the ends of my hair. It took about three days for the reaction to appear.

    I was previously aware of a very mild food allergy to tree nuts, but the reaction that I had to the oil was a whole different kettle of fish: cracked, oozing, BURNING, scaly skin everywhere that the oil had touched. It was miserable. I ended up taking a round of prednisone steroid, and it took a couple of weeks to heal completely.

    Moral of the story: patch test.

    Also, I have been using cold-pressed rosehip oil on my face, and it’s working nicely for me.

  14. I started using the Josie Maran Argan Oil and I used it for about 3-4 days until my face got bumpy. its not like pimples but just little bumps that when i feel my face it feels really rough and well overall not good and this has never happened before. The problem are are on my cheeks and forehead. I think it could be the way i was using the product when I put probably too much on and i used it twice a day. I probably won’t being using it again and am hoping for my skin to calm down still after about a week.

  15. I’m so glad I found this page and others online who mentioned an argan oil allergy. I’ve been using something called Argan Magic body lotion and I originally got little bumps on me elbows and knees, sort of like little blisters. My doctor couldn’t figure it out and I tried a topical steroid that has cleared it up for the most part.

  16. Hi! I was actually on google searching for shampoos and conditioners that would be great for people with peanut and tree nut allergies. I have severe peanut and tree nut allergic reactions if I consume the nuts but I also tried argan oil on my face like you did and started getting reactions. I have eczema problems that trigger from the allergies and lately I have found it hard to find a good shampoo and conditioner. I have used paul mitchell products for a very long time and I have had no problems. I recently purchased pureology hydrate shampoo and conditioner and toni&guy shampoo and conditioner from their cleanse line. I do not see any tree nuts on there but they do have sunflower seed oil. I would love to hear some more suggestions on good shampoos and conditioners if you know of any, or if you have experience with the ones I listed.

  17. I purchased a 5 piece set of Josie Maran skin products on QVC and loved them the first few days. I then got small bumps on my forehead and cheeks. Both areas were red and irritated looking. I stopped using the products. I am now waiting for my skin to calm down. I am so glad I came across this blog. A plug for QVC… As usual their return policy was so convenient and accommodating. A good way to try a new product.. I will continue using on my hair to see if I can tolerate that, but will watch for signs of skin irritation.

  18. I have a nut/ tree nut allergy also, confirmed by allergy test. I think there are probably lots of us out there but don’t realize it like you didn’t at first. I think we need to band together to protest all the skin care companies adding tree nuts to most ALL of their beauty products. What are we suppose to use to beautify our skin and hair. I have had to continually change face creams, body lotions and hair products because these companies keep adding “nut” oils to their products. I have stopped purchasing from The Body Shop and Bath and Body Shop because if you read the products ingredients, they all have almond or avocado (coconut) oils in them. Even when the product is consider for sensitive skin it still has “nut” oils in them. I even contacted St. Ives because they changed their ingredients to have almond oil ( I had used St. Ives for almost 20 years). They simply said TO BAD, because that is what women want. Well there are women out there, with nut allergies, who want products for their skin.

  19. This post was most helpful! I also have a severe tree nut allergy and allergic contact dermatitis to tree nuts. I also learned that yellow dye (found in a LOT of foods & beauty products) is made from tree nuts (almonds I believe). I’m glad this information is out there & I really enjoyed reading! Thank you!!!!

  20. Almond oil is presently being put in face masks and other beauty products. Is anyone having a reaction to this…or have you noticed that it is in a lot of things? I bought a perfume cream a few days ago and didn’t notice the Almond oil in the ingredients. Violent red rash and itching resulted. The seller was happy to refund my money and told me that almond oil was in the product.

  21. Reading this has been really helpful, I’ve suffered with this for approx. 8 years. It started with me as a beauty therapist using almond oil as a carrier oil for massage.
    These products are in EVERYTHING ! to the point there was once an advertisement of almond oil being put in toilet paper !
    I thought I had finally mastered the art of dodging the ‘nasty’s’ when on Sunday I used a hair conditioner with Kukui oil in it and am today suffering. Lesson learned, I must read the back of everything

  22. Argan oil does NOT come from a tree nut. Argan Oil is not made from a nut at all. Argania spinosa trees are fruit bearing, and Argan Oil is made from the kernel inside of the pit of the fruit (think apricots, but slightly smaller). So this product is nut-free.If you have had an allergic reaction to anything containing Argan oil, you are more than likely allergic to the fruit itself. Please, get the facts about Argan before placing it in a category with “tree nuts” because that information is completely false. Great article, though!

    • All tree nuts (but not peanuts/ground-nuts) are fruits, in the botanical sense, as they are seeds.

      “Nut:A one-seeded, dry, indehiscent (does not split at maturity) fruit
      with a hard pericarp, usually derived from a one-loculed ovary.” – from
      the Fairchild Virtual Herbarium glossary of Bottanical Terms

      ” The general and original usage of the term is less restrictive, and
      many nuts, such as almonds, pecans, pistachios, walnuts, and Brazil
      nuts,[1] are not nuts in a botanical sense. Common usage of the term
      often refers to any hard-walled, edible kernel as a nut.[2]” Wikipedia
      – Nut – backsourced to Black, Michael H.; Halmer, Peter (2006). The
      encyclopedia of seeds: science, technology and uses. Wallingford,
      UK: CABI. p. 228. ISBN 978-0-85199-723-0.

      The fruit of the Argan tree (Argania spinosa) is a tree-nut, in both the the botanical and common sense.

      Source:I am a botanist.

      Now whether Aragan is likely to induce allergies in people with other nut allergies depends on if Aragan contains proteins that could induce a cross-reactive reaction. That’s a question for an allergist or immunologist.

  23. Also, I just want to add that an allergic reation to argan oil could also mean that you purchased a fake. As in, unpure (refined)–chemically processed argain oil. It is extremely rare for 100% pure, UNREFINED, argan oil to cause any type of skin reaction. The unrefined oil is very expensive as well and you have to do your research to find a good supplier.

  24. Very helpful article , with tree nut allergies and soy allergies it is very hard to find a product that won’t leave me itchy with red bumps on my head and neck… been trial and error.. I had been using Live Earth, no longer can, switched to Patene to see it that was ok, nope. will try Paul Mitchell products and see what happens. For my face I used a pumpkin natural soap.

  25. I also started using argan oil on my face and in my hair 3-4 days after using aragan oil I started seeing my face getting all red and lots of itching it was really bad I started buying creams but nothing would help can you please tell me what can help thank you.

  26. I’m so glad I read this post, I’ve been having a rash on the back of my head and neck not knowing where it’s coming from,now I know I started using argan oil on my hair a few weeks ago. Just washed my hair not using it anymore

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