Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Top Ten Most Misleading Cosmetic Claims: Fourth Installment


When you see a product labeled as "hypoallergenic" you would think that this means that the product is less likely to cause allergic reactions than similar products without this designation. Unfortunately, you would be wrong. According to FDA there are no federal standards or regulations that apply to the term "hypoallergenic". The decision to use the term lies solely with the manufacturer and may be used without any proof that the product causes fewer allergic reactions than others.

Decades ago, a lot of harsh ingredients were used in cosmetics. Today, what can and can't be used in cosmetics is highly regulated so the ingredients available to a cosmetics company are limited and all the same. When using the term "hypoallergenic" became popular in 1975, FDA tried to regulate the use of the term, stating that a cosmetic product could be labeled "hypoallergenic" only if scientific studies on human subjects showed that it caused a significantly lower rate of adverse skin reactions than similar products not making such claims. However, this regulation was struck down by US courts and manufacturers were free to say "I DO WHAT I WANT!"

At my company, we do RIPT (Repeat Insult Patch Testing) on every product that we sell for our own peace of mind (and to protect the company from law suits). An outside testing company gets a collection of volunteers who have the product applied to their skin for a predetermined amount of time and then evaluated for skin reactions. Our products have never shown any adverse reactions but we still do not label our products hypoallergenic.

The bottom line here is that labeling a product hypoallergenic means nothing and the company is not obligated to perform any testing in order to use this label.