With more consumers complaining of having sensitive skin, we also see an increase in cosmetics and skin care products being labeled as hypoallergenic, which are supposedly less likely to cause allergic reactions according to manufacturers’ claims. Such products are therefore said to be gentler or safer for sensitive skin compared to other non-hypoallergenic cosmetics.
Is this really true? Well, apparently not.
From what I’ve read, while hypoallergenic sounds scientific or clinically tested, the term has very little meaning and is primarily used as a marketing tool. There is a lack of scientific studies demonstrating that certain products cause fewer adverse reactions than others on the basis of “hypoallergenicity”. Additionally, dermatologists have also dismissed the term as it is impossible to guarantee that a cosmetic or skin care product will never produce an allergic reaction.
In fact, the cosmetics and label claims at FDA indicates that there are no federal standards or definitions that govern the use of the term “hypoallergenic.”
The term means whatever a particular company wants it to mean. Manufacturers of hypoallergenic cosmetics are not required to submit substantiation of their hypoallergenic claims to FDA.
So even if a product is labeled “hypoallergenic,” it may contain substances that can cause allergic reactions. In addition, you also want to be aware that products labeled as “all natural” or “organic,” are not always hypoallergenic and neither do products that claim “dermatologist tested” necessary means it will not cause allergic reaction or other skin irritation.
The bottom line is that you are better off knowing what ingredients your skin is allergic to and the best approach is still to read the ingredients listing on the product and avoiding those that can cause your skin problems.