Corrosive? Irritant? Allergy-causing? This is how you recognize dangers to your skin!

Corrosive substances   

You can recognize corrosive substances by the following symbol (pictogram), which must be printed on the product or the label:



New and old danger pictograms for labeling skin-corrosive substances (left: new labeling since 2009; right: old labeling up to 2009)


Products with a pictogram of this sort are corrosive to the skin and can produce an “acute toxic contact dermatitis“ (a suddenly-appearing, acute inflammation of the skin)! Various hair colourings have a corrosive effect on the skin and/or scalp when applied improperly or in excessive concentrations.


Irritant substances

You can recognize irritant substances by the following pictogram:



New and old danger pictogram for labeling substances “irritating to the skin“ (left: new labeling since 2009; right: old labeling up to 2009)


Substances which are marked in this manner can overstrain the skin barrier with frequent or repeated skin contact, and also lead to skin inflammations (“cumulative-subtoxic contact dermatitises”).   

However, there are exceptions! Water, shampoo and skin cleaning agents can also be irritants when used repeatedly, though they are not required to display such labels. Or have you ever seen an “X” on a water faucet?


Allergy-causing substances   

Allergenic substances are more difficult to recognize and are not marked with a pictogram. In theory, nearly every substance can cause an allergy.   

Allergenic hair colourings have therefore been prohibited since November 2011 from sale to, or use on, persons under 16 years of age, and producers of products containing certain ingredients known to be strong allergens are required to mark them as such (labeling).