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Guthy Renker Corporation

What Cosmetics Producers Forget to Tell the Customer About Hypoallergenic Products

Many of us have heard the saying hypoallergenic. Make-up, moisturizers, shampoos, and even jewelry use it on their labels and in advertising. A product that causes less or no allergic reactions is what most people think the meaning of hypoallergenic is. But what does the term really mean?

Beauty product advertisers first used the word in the 60s. The saying comes from the Latin prefix hypo, which translates to below or less. So the expression means less allergies. Since it's inception the word has been widely 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 how true is this really?

In 1974, the FDA attempted again to control products that claimed to be hypoallergenic. It stated that a product could be proclaimed hypoallergenic only if experiments were done on human subjects and it proved to be a significantly lower reaction to allergies than products not making the claim. It then stated the companies had to do these tests on their own and (most importantly) at their own cost. This as usual caused big problems and manufacturers without hesitation filed lawsuits opposing the choice, saying that the studies would cause an undue financial burden on them. Clinique and Almay, two producers of hypoallergenic products, were the biggest challengers to the FDA.

The Food and Drug Administration attempted again to regulate the use of the expression on June 6, 1975 by still requiring manufacturers to do experimental tests but the proceedings for the experiments were altered to lower the cost to the manufacturers. Manufacturers who evidently didn't want any laws on the products they made did not agree with this either. Cosmetic manufacturers challenged the FDA choice in the U.S. Court of Appeals, which judged that the standard was no good. The court said the definition of hypoallergenic the FDA gave was unjust because of a lack of proof that people thought of the term in the way it is described by the organization. The final result? Manufacturers can continue to advertise and label their products hypoallergenic without any kind of rules or standard set up by the government. People have no guarantee that a product that says hypoallergenic is any less harsh than other products. Theoretically, a business could produce a product that is hypoallergenic that is loaded with poisons and allergy causing agents. The American Food and Drug Administration has said, Hypoallergenic cosmetics are products that producers claim produce fewer allergic reactions than other cosmetic products. Consumers with sensitive skin, in addition to those with conventional skin, may be led to believe that these products will be gentler to their skin than non-hypoallergenic cosmetics. There are no Federal laws or definitions that standardize the use of the term hypoallergenic. It can mean whatever a specific company wants it to mean. Makers of beauty products that claim to be hypoallergenic are not required to prove substantiation of their hypoallergenic properties to FDA. The word hypoallergenic has little meaning according to dermatologists even though it is a significant marketing term.

The lone small victory that the FDA seems to have had is that at least now manufacturers now have to put the ingredients on the labels of the products so that customers can stay away from chemicals that they are sure they are allergic to or have had problems with before. As consumers, we must have a knowledge of ingredients in the products we consume because obviously the manufacturers who make them aren't very concerned about our good health over their money margins. There is without a doubt some products that exist that claim to be hypoallergenic really are, but if you are a wise consumer and concerned about you and your family's health, you will do some studying on your own and not be reliant on unfounded companies proclamations .

Guthy Renker Corporation

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