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Guthy Renker Corporation

What Businesses Do Not Tell People About Hypoallergenic Products

Most of us are familiar with the expression hypoallergenic. It is used in advertising and put on product labels of shampoos, moisturizers, make-up, and even jewelry. The majority of people think it means a product that is hypoallergenic won't react with their allergies. But is this actually what it means?

The word first appeared in the 1960s from cosmetics advertisers. The expression originates from the Latin prefix hypo, which translates to below or less. Less allergens is the literal translation of the word. Since it's invention the word has been commonly accepted and used by marketers and companies to sell products that claim to be softer on the skin than other products similar to it. But is this really true?

The Food and Drug Administration attempted again to govern the use of the term on June 6, 1975 by still requiring companies to do scientific tests but the procedures for the tests were changed to reduce the cost to the companies. Manufacturers who evidently didn't want any regulations on the products they produced did not agree with this either. Cosmetic manufacturers opposed the FDA choice in the U.S. Court of Appeals, which decided that the law was invalid. The judges stated the definition of hypoallergenic the FDA gave was unjust because of a lack of evidence that people thought of the word in the way it is described by the organization. The result? Manufacturers can continue to advertise and label their products hypoallergenic without any kind of regulation or standard set up by the government. Consumers have no way of knowing that a product that says hypoallergenic is any less harsh than any other products. A product could be full with toxins and allergy causing agents and a company could theoretically continue to produce it. The American Food and Drug Administration has said, Hypoallergenic cosmetics are products that companies say produce less allergic reactions than competing cosmetic products. Users with sensitive skin, and also those with normal skin, may perceive that these goods will be gentler to their skin than non-hypoallergenic products. There are no Federal rules or terms that standardize the use of the word hypoallergenic. A cosmetics producer can make the term mean whatever they want it to. Makers of beauty products labeled as hypoallergenic are not required to report substantiation of their hypoallergenic properties to FDA. The saying hypoallergenic may have considerable market value in promoting skin care products to consumers on a retail basis, but doctors say it has very little meaning.

In 1974, the FDA attempted again to control products that said they were hypoallergenic. It said that a product could be deemed as hypoallergenic only if studies were done on patients and it showed a significantly lower reaction to allergies than products not making the claim. It then said the cosmetics producers had to do these tests on their own and (most importantly) at their own cost. This obviously caused major problems and manufacturers immediately began lawsuits against the choice, saying that the studies would pose an undue economic burden on them. The two biggest opposition of this effort at regulation were Clinique and Almay, two makers of hypoallergenic products.

The lone little triumph 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 avoid substances that they are sure they are allergic to or have had difficulties with before. As consumers, we must be aware of ingredients in the products we consume because apparently the manufacturers who produce them aren't very concerned about our good health over their money margins. There is no doubt that some products out there that claim to be hypoallergenic actually are, but if you are a smart person and concerned about you and your family's health, you will do some studying on your own and not be reliant on these companies claims .

Guthy Renker Corporation

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