Hypoallergenic products still seem to be in vogue with countless brands using the word as a badge of honour. Ever wondered what it really means when a product is labelled or marketed as ‘hypoallergenic’?
If so, this article was meant for you!
There is a great deal of confusion that still exists around the use of the word ‘hypoallergenic’. If you’ve seen this term used on products, you might be wondering if the product is guaranteed to ensure you won’t have an allergic response.
Short answer, no it doesn’t.
Hypoallergenic products are still at risk of causing allergies as much as other products are. That’s why it pays up to do your research if you suffer from sensitive skin or allergic reactions.
What Does it Really Mean When a Product is Hypoallergenic?
Advertisers use the word ‘hypoallergenic’ to indicate that a product may be less likely to cause an allergic reaction. Other terms used to indicate a similar concept can include “fragrance-free”, “dermatologist recommended/tested” and “paraben free”.
There is often no scientific evidence behind these statements, nor is there any regulation or legal requirement for proving these statements.
When browsing products on the shelves of your grocery store, the other issue that you’re faced with is that different companies use these exact same terms but define them differently.
And if all you’ve got to judge them by is the packaging, that could be a serious problem – especially if you’re concerned about an allergic outbreak or sensitive skin flaring up!
Now, we’re not dismissing all companies as being deceitful when using these terms. Some might take it upon themselves to conduct their own testing and ensure their product is as safe as possible for allergy sufferers.
All we’re saying is that if you’re comparing two products side by side in a shop, how are you to know which to trust if there’s no agreed-upon usage or definition of these terms?
It’s this exact issue we are working to combat by offering as much information as we can for people in your shoes. If you’re not sure whether a product is likely to trigger an allergic response, go deeper with your research and educate yourself on the company’s practices.
Can you be Allergic to Hypoallergenic Products?
Sadly, yes. The biggest myth of all surrounding hypoallergenic products is that they don’t cause allergies.
This is not the case.
Companies that promote the hypoallergenicity of their products often do so to indicate that there is simply a reduced likelihood of an allergic reaction. This can be either through the use of only natural ingredients, the omission of known ingredients that cause allergies or, in rare cases, through approved testing on human subjects.
Many consumers are still unaware that this is the case and believe that the use of “hypoallergenic” on product labelling means that there definitively won’t be an allergic reaction caused.
A study published by the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology compared product ingredients against their labelling using terms such as:
- Dermatologist recommended
- Dermatologist tested
The study found that 89% of products with these terms contained at least one known allergen, 63% contained 2 allergens and 11% contained 5 or more.
From a different perspective, the test identified the same number of products with no allergens listed in their ingredients as there were products which had 5 or more allergens. And yet, these products shared similar labelling indicating the reduced likelihood of allergies.
It is for this reason that it’s hard for consumers to know if a hypoallergenic product will cause an allergy or not, thereby leaving you at risk of being allergic to a hypoallergenic product.
Are Hypoallergenic Products Good for Sensitive Skin?
Not necessarily. Research indicates that many hypoallergenic skincare and personal care products are just as susceptible to irritating sensitive skin as those that aren’t labelled as hypoallergenic.
It comes down to the specific ingredients used.
No matter if you’re considering a shampoo, lotion, body wash or cosmetic product – always dig deep with your research and study the ingredients carefully!
Also make sure you know what ingredients trigger your allergies and avoid these at all costs, even if they show up in a ‘hypoallergenic’ product.