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Skincare and Tree Nut Allergies

The Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004 requires major allergens to be listed in all packaged goods.  Tree nut allergies are one of the most common and fast-growing types of food allergies in North America today.

When someone with a tree nut allergy ingests their allergen, even a trace amount, that person is at risk of a severe allergic reaction, called anaphylaxis. An anaphylactic reaction includes more than one of the body’s systems, such as the respiratory tract, gastrointestinal tract, the skin and cardiovascular symptom.

In the United States, for food labeling purposes, the FDA considers the following to be tree nuts:

Almond, Beech nuts, Brazil nuts, Butternuts, Cashews, Chestnuts, Chinquapins, Coconuts, Filberts/hazelnuts, Ginko nuts, Hickory nuts, Lichee nuts, Macadmamia nuts/Bush nuts, Pecans, Pine nuts/Pinon nuts, Pistachios, Shea nuts, and Walnuts.


While coconut is considered a tree nut when it comes to food labeling purposes in the United States, it is not, strictly speaking, a nut. Rather, it is the fruit of a palm tree. 

Most people with tree nut allergies are able to eat coconut. However, it is possible to be allergic to coconut. Reports of immunoglobulin E (IgE)-mediated coconut allergy are rare and according to the NIH, only a handful of cases have been reported in the literature in adults and children. Ingesting and topical applications in cosmetics and personal care products are of course two different things. Cosmetics and personal care products sometimes contain nut oils but these are likely to have been highly refined.

Shea Butter

Shea butter is derived from the seed or kernel from the Shea tree and is very rich in oil. The oil or butter is refined, bleached and deodorized, and the final product is primarily fat rather than protein.

The 2006 US Food and Drug Administration guidelines included shea nut among other tree nuts. Shea nut is distantly related to Brazil nut, which cross-reacts with almond, hazelnut, walnut, and peanut.Because of its high content of nonsaponifiable lipids, shea butter is widely used in cosmetic, baby care, food, and confectionary products.

The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology tested Shea butter and found it contains no IgE-binding soluble proteins. There are no reports of ingestion or contact-related reactions to shea butter in individuals with nut allergy. 

The fatty content of the shea nut kernel varies by region from 29.7% to 53.7%. The protein content is poorly characterized; in one study, 42 mg protein was extracted from 100 g shea nut (0.042%). For comparison, Brazil nut contains 14% protein, cashew and pistachio 21%, and peanut 25%.

You can read more about testing here.

According to a 2017 article published on the Nebraska Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources Food Allergy Research and Resource Program website: 

"An exhaustive search of the worldwide clinical literature provided no evidence to indicate that any allergic reactions have ever been reported to shea nut butter. Allergic reactions to shea nuts have not been described either, although they are not widely eaten.
Recent research indicates that shea nut butter does not contain any detectable protein residues and does not contain detectable residues of proteins from peanut or various known allergenic tree nuts (walnut, almond, pecan, hazelnut).

Since allergens are proteins, this research indicates the absence of detectable allergens in shea nut butter. Thus, refined shea nut butter does not pose any known or likely allergenic risk to consumers including individuals with pre-existing peanut or tree nut allergies. Products containing refined shea butter can be safely used by all consumers.

Shea Butter and Latex Allergies

We have found lay articles that indicate people with latex allergies (especially TYPE B latex allergy) may have a reaction to shea butter because it contains natural latex.  So if you’re sensitive to latex, then it's possible to react to shea butter overtime." 

We currently don't use shea butter in any of our products.

Mango Butter

Most of our soap bars contain Mango Butter. While any food may cause an allergic reaction, mangoes are unique in that they belong to the plant family that also contains poison oak, poison ivy, and poison sumac. They all contain urushiol, an oil found within the Anacardiaceae plant family. This oil can cause contact dermatitis. Urushiol is also found in the sap, skin, stem, and leaf of mangos.

Mango Butter - Mango Seed Butter - is cold-pressed from the shelled fruit kernel, the seed of the fruit, and does not contain urushiol.

It is filled with oleic acid and stearic acid, two fatty acids that work to keep skin soft. The butter is also high in antioxidants and vitamins, and has been touted to have wound healing properties as well. We love it because it helps produce the hardness in our soap bars making it last through dozens of uses while still providing a rich, conditioning lather.

Need more explanation about allergies and immune responses? 

There are essential terms that may help you understand the various body’s response to allergens including overactive sinuses, obstructed airways, digestive problems, or inflamed skin. 

Head on over to this helpful article from Lyfe Botanicals for more.

We proudly list every ingredient in all of our products.

If you have severe anaphylactic type reactions to ANY of the ingredients in ANY of our products, please do not buy purchase them. 

People with sensitivities to any listed ingredient found with our product descriptions may wish to play it safe and not use any of our products containing oils derived from any of the above tree nuts. If you notice any adverse affects, please discontinue use.

Island Thyme Soap Company is not responsible for any individual reaction to any particular ingredient. Each product description on our website includes a complete list of ingredients.

Information on ingredients used in our products appearing on this website is not intended to be, nor should be interpreted as, medical advice or recommendation concerning the use of any cosmetic product. If you have questions about your use of a cosmetic product, please review the labeling appearing on the product and/or consult a physician.