What is it?
Vanillin is a crystalline compound, which is the fragrant part of vanilla. The vanilla bean is the dried and fermented fruit of an orchid, Vanilla planifolia. Vanillin is a fragrance or flavoring used in a variety of products such as personal care products, food and candy, essential oils, and perfumes.

How can I avoid it?
Skin contact with vanillin is required for it to cause a rash. Discontinuation of exposure to products containing vanillin should result in improvement and/or resolution of your dermatitis. By law, all products made in the U.S. for topical use have the ingredients listed either on the product package or the box that contains it, so check the labeling of your skin care products for this ingredient. If there is not enough information, ask your pharmacist or retailer, or contact the company directly. At work, request a Safety Data Sheet (SDS) to help identify potential sources of exposure.

Contact dermatitis due to vanillin can occur in individuals exposed in the cultivation, trade, or industrial use of vanilla. Synthetic vanillin can be produced from pine tree sap, eugenol, wood pulp, sugar, and coal tar. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires that the term “imitation vanilla” appear on the label if the product contains synthetic ingredients. If the label has the term “vanilla extract,” the product must be derived from vanilla beans. Some individuals are sensitized to synthetic vanillin and not to the natural spice, and vice versa. An unusual source of exposure to vanillin is smoking certain types of tobaccos.

The avoidance of fragrances and flavoring agents such as vanillin can be difficult since so many everyday products contain these substances. Individuals with sensitivity to vanillin should use only fragrance-free cosmetic and household products. “Unscented” products may contain low levels of a fragrance to cover up an undesirable odor, so also should be avoided. Products labeled as “hypoallergenic” do not assure that the product is truly free of fragrance.

Direct contact with foods or products containing vanillin may cause symptoms including burning, irritation, and redness. Direct contact may occur on the skin, lips, or mouth. Although it is rare, ingestion of foods that contain vanillin could cause generalized symptoms such as itching or redness of the skin. If your provider has diagnosed you with an oral or lip allergy to vanillin, you should avoid eating foods with vanillin added to them.

  • Perfumes / Colognes / After-shaves / Toilet water
  • Skin Care Products / Cosmetics
    • Antiperspirants / Deodorants
    • Hair sprays, gels, tonics and lotions
    • Hair Colorants / “Permanents-Relaxers”
    • Soaps / Cleansers
    • Shampoos / Conditioners
    • Moisturizers
    • Make-ups
    • Nail Polish / Nail Polish Remover
    • Powders / Sprays
    • Sunscreens
  • Medications, topical, prescription and over the counter such as
    • Anesthetics
    • Antiseptics
    • Creams, Ointments, Solutions
    • Foot And Other Powders
    • Nasal Decongestants
    • Herbal remedies, including Traditional Chinese Medications
    • Wound Dressings
  • Household products
    • Air Fresheners / Aromatherapy / Potpourri
    • Cleaning Products / Soaps / Detergents (A preferred household cleaner is dilute white vinegar.)
    • Furniture polish
    • Laundry care (detergent, softeners)
  • Foods, candies, gum, beverages, various, as a flavoring or spice
  • Oral Care Products as a flavoring
    • Cough mixtures
    • Toothpaste / Mouthwash
    • Throat tablets and lozenges
  • Tobacco
Other names for Vanillin:
  • Vanilla
  • Vanillic aldehyde
  • Methyl vanillin
  • Vanillaldehyde
  • Benzaldehyde, 4-hydroxy-3-methoxy
Potential cross-reacting/co-reacting substances:
  • Couramin
  • Propolis

How safe is it?

Hang tight. We're thinking.