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Guthy Renker Corporation

What Businesses Do Not Inform the Consumer About Hypoallergenic Beauty Products

The word hypoallergenic is a saying that probably most of us have run across. Make-up, moisturizers, shampoos, and even jewelry use it on their labels and in advertising. Most people think it means a product that is hypoallergenic won't react with allergens. But is this actually what it means?

Cosmetics advertisers initially used the saying in the sixties. The expression comes from the Greek prefix hypo, which translates to below or less. Less allergies is the literal translation of the word. Since it's creation it has been commonly accepted and used by companies and advertisers to sell products that say they are more gentle on the skin than other products basically the same. But is this really how it is?

On June 6, 1975, the FDA again tried to regulate using the term hypoallergenic by still requiring studies be conducted, but with changes to reduce costs of manufacturers. Manufacturers who apparently didn't want any regulations on the products they made did not like this either. Cosmetic companies challenged the FDA choice in the U.S. Court of Appeals, which ruled that the guideline was no good. The judges said the definition of hypoallergenic the FDA gave was unfair because of such little proof that consumers thought of the word the same as it is described by the organization. The final outcome? Cosmetics producers can continue to advertise and label their products hypoallergenic with no guidelines or laws set forth by the government. Consumers have no way of knowing that a product labeled hypoallergenic is any less reactive than any other products. Theoretically, a business could produce a product that is hypoallergenic that is full of toxins and allergens. In 1974, the FDA attempted again to regulate products that claimed to be hypoallergenic. The FDA said that a product could be labeled hypoallergenic only if tests were conducted on patients and it proved to be a significantly lower reaction to allergens than other products. It then said the manufacturers had to do these experiments on their own and (most importantly) at their own cost. This as usual caused big problems and cosmetics producers without delay began lawsuits opposing the choice, claiming that the studies would cause an unfair financial burden on them. The two most prolific challengers of this attempt at regulation were Almay and Clinique, two manufacturers of hypoallergenic beauty products.

By rule the products described as hypoallergenic are required to create fewer allergic reactions to the product than the products that are not hypoallergenic. Consumers with hypersensitive skin, and even those with ordinary skin, may be led to believe that these goods will be more gentle to their skin than non-hypoallergenic cosmetics. There are no Federal guidelines or terms that control the use of the term hypoallergenic. The word can be anything a specific business wants it to mean. Manufacturers of beauty products proclaimed hypoallergenic are not required to report substantiation of their hypoallergenic properties to FDA. The saying hypoallergenic may have substantial market value in boosting sales of skin care products to consumers on a retail basis, but doctors say it has very little meaning.

Requiring a list of ingredients the product has in it on the box seems to be the only triumph the FDA had against the cosmetics manufacturers. As customers, we must know ingredients in the goods we consume because apparently the manufacturers who produce them aren't very concerned about our health over their money margins. There is undoubtedly some products out there that claim to be hypoallergenic really are, but if you are an intelligent customer and concerned about you and your family's health, you will do the research yourself and not be reliant on unfounded companies claims .

Guthy Renker Corporation

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