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Guthy Renker Corporation

What Cosmetics Businesses Are Forgetting to Tell the Customer About Hypoallergenic Products

Many of us are familiar with the expression hypoallergenic. It is used in advertisements and put on product labels of shampoos, moisturizers, make-up, and even jewelry. folks think it means a product that is hypoallergenic won't react with allergens. But what does the term really mean?

The term first appeared in the 1960s from cosmetics advertisers. The saying comes from the Greek prefix hypo, which translates to below or less. Less allergies is the actual translation of the word. Since it's creation the expression has been widely accepted and used by manufacturers, marketers, and advertisers to sell products that claim to be gentler on the skin than other products similar to it. But how true is this really?

In 1974, the FDA tried again to control products that claimed to be hypoallergenic. They stated that a product could be labeled hypoallergenic only if studies were done on test subjects and it proved to be a significantly lower reaction to allergies than other products. It then stated the manufacturers had to do these experiments on their own and (most importantly) at their own expense. This of course caused big upsets and companies without delay filed lawsuits opposing the decision, claiming that the tests would pose an unfair economic 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 standardize the use of the term on June 6, 1975 by still requiring cosmetics producers to do scientific tests but the proceedings for the tests were changed to reduce the expense to the manufacturers. This still didn't sit well with the manufacturers who obviously wanted no regulations on the products they were making. Cosmetic companies opposed the FDA decision in the U.S. Court of Appeals, which judged that the standard was not binding. The court stated the definition of hypoallergenic the FDA gave was unfair because of a lack of proof that customers perceived the word the same as it is described by the organization. The result? Manufacturers can continue to advertise and label their products hypoallergenic with no guidelines or standard set up by the government. People have no guarantee that a product that says hypoallergenic is any less allergic than any other products. A product could be maxed out with toxins and allergy causing agents and a company could supposedly continue to produce it. The American Food and Drug Administration has said, Hypoallergenic cosmetics are products that companies say create fewer allergic reactions than competing products. People with sensitive skin, in addition to those with ordinary skin, may perceive that these goods will be gentler to their epidermis than non-hypoallergenic cosmetics. There are no Federal standards or definitions that regulate the use of the saying hypoallergenic. The saying can be whatever a specific producer wants it to mean. Makers of cosmetics labeled as hypoallergenic are not required to prove substantiation of their hypoallergenic properties to Food and Drug Administration. The word hypoallergenic may have considerable market value in boosting sales of skin care products to people on a retail basis, but physicians say it has very little meaning.

Requiring a list of ingredients the product contains on the box seems to be the only triumph the FDA had against the cosmetics manufacturers. As customers, we must know ingredients in the products we use because obviously the manufacturers who produce them aren't very concerned about our 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 an intelligent customer and concerned for you and your family's well being, you will do some studying on your own and not be reliant on these companies proclamations .

Guthy Renker Corporation

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