This Consumer Myth Can Actually Be Making You Sick…
In Australia and the USA, the cosmetic industry is largely self regulated. This can mean no regulation or very minimal.
Therefore, when I see the term hypoallergenic on a label, I question what it really means.
As a consumer, we have the right to trust what is written on a label as we feel the regulatory bodies have a good handle on it.
Reading the term “Hypoallergenic” on a label makes you feel like you are choosing a product that is less likely to cause allergic reactions, gentler and safer for you and your family and particularly safe for those with sensitive skin.
It is on the shelf, it must be OK.
However, I could not find a medical definition or published industry or public standard regulation. Yet the term has been used, according to Wikipedia (2012), since 1953 by the cosmetic and fabric industry, at the discretion of the manufacturer. According to Katta (2008) there are neither concrete federal standards nor unequivocal definitions that govern the use of the term hypoallergenic.
According to the US FDA (2000), manufacturers are not required to submit substantiation of hypo-allergenic claims to the Federal Drug Administration USA.
The term has no meaning, it means whatever a particular company wants it to mean.
It may sound and feel strange, but basically if you see the word Hypoallergenic on labelling, it should not affect your choice of product.
US Food and Drug Administration (18 October, 2000), Hypoallergenic Cosmetics, (Online), Available: http://www.fda.gov/Cosmetics/CosmeticLabelingLabelClaims/LabelClaimsandExpirationDating/ucm2005203.htm, [3 January 2013].
Wikipedia (November, 2012), Hypoallergenic, (Online), Available: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypoallergenic, [3 January 2013].
Dr Katta, R (2008), ‘Common Misconceptions in Contact Dermatitis Counseling’, Dermatology Online Journal, vol. 14, (4): 2, (Online), Available: http://dermatology-s10.cdlib.org/144/commentary/contact_dermatitis/katta.html, [3 January 2013]