It still amazes me, the lack of regulations that are required for the things we put in our body whether it be orally or topically. If you don’t already know, I would like to make my readers aware of the “hype” (hence the title) on hypoallergenic, fragrance-free, and “all-natural” products. Please BE AWARE…the FDA does not require the cosmetic companies to substantiate these claims (unlike European products). Did you know that “hypoallergenic” simply means that the product is less likely to cause an allergic reaction. It is not a scientific term. Check out this legislation on the term hypoallergenic:
In 1974, the FDA attempted to clear up this confusion and issued a proposal in February 1974, only to be challenged in court by Almay and Clinique – both manufacturers who rely heavily on the term “hypoallergenic” in their advertising.
Although the FDA initially won, the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in 1977 reversed the Court ruling against Almay and Clinique, as the Court of Appeals held that the FDA regulation was invalid because the FDA had not demonstrated that consumers understood the term “hypoallergenic” in the way the FDA had defined it.
From then on – it has been “free-for-all” for companies to advertise their cosmetics as hypoallergenic, safe for sensitive skin and allergy tested – which negates the use of the term totally, since no guidelines need to be followed to make these claims. The FDA Office of Cosmetics and Colors Fact Sheet notes that ingredients that are used in cosmetic products are basically the same throughout the cosmetics industry.
This means there is no regulation specifically defining or governing the use of the term “hypoallergenic” or any similar claims. So imagine how many companies advertise themselves as “hypoallergenic”.
Food for thought: there is no such product that can be classified as ‘non-allergic” – since anybody can be allergic to anything – and this sentiment is shared by the FDA in the USA.
“Fragrance-free” means that the product was not intended to give off a noticeable odor, however most still contain fragrant ingredients. “All-natural” meas that the product contains no preservatives. In order to do this, the shelf-life of your product is lessened, and most products sit on a store shelf over the expiration time of a natural ingredient. Imagine how fast a banana goes bad or even an apple turning brown. These terms are more of a advertising hype. It is ultimately up to the consumer to decide if a product labeled hypo-allergenic is any safer than the competing products available. Please do not fall victim to the marketing “hype”. Do your research. Find out what you may be allergic to, and make sure that ingredient is not listed.