Is the label 'hypoallergenic' helpful or just marketing hype?

December 17, 2014, American Chemical Society

Many consumers seek out shampoos, soaps and cosmetics that are labeled "hypoallergenic" or "dermatologist tested," words that imply the products are safe to use. But recent research gives shoppers reason to question what those labels really mean. Now some scientists and consumer advocates are calling for change, according to an article in Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN), the weekly newsmagazine of the American Chemical Society.

Britt E. Erickson, a senior editor at C&EN, notes that the definitions of the terms "hypoallergenic" and " tested/recommended" is currently left to the manufacturers that put them on their products. The Food and Drug Administration has not set any standards for using these descriptions. The last time the agency attempted to do so was in the 1970s, but cosmetic industry giants Almay and Clinique challenged the regulation and ultimately won in an appeals court.

A recent study on 187 personal care products formulated for children has shown that most contain at least one known skin allergen even if they're marketed as hypoallergenic. Some companies are self-regulating and moving away from using certain compounds, such as those that release formaldehyde. But that doesn't necessarily guarantee a safer product. And one preservative that some manufacturers have turned to in place of parabens, which are endocrine disruptors, can cause allergic reactions. Some researchers are calling for the FDA to step in. But for now, it is up to consumers to shop by trial and error.

Explore further: French growers up in arms over EU's pending label requirements for lavender

Related Stories

French growers up in arms over EU's pending label requirements for lavender

October 15, 2014
Next year, the European Commission is set to release guidelines for warning labels on products made with lavender oil, which reportedly can cause allergic reactions for some people. But lavender growers in France are putting ...

Pressure mounts on FDA and industry to ensure safety of food ingredients

September 24, 2014
Confusion over a 1997 Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rule that eases the way for food manufacturers to use ingredients "generally regarded as safe," or GRAS, has inspired a new initiative by food makers. Food safety advocates ...

Rashes from wipes, liquid soaps on the rise

March 23, 2014
(HealthDay)—Allergic skin reactions to a preservative used in pre-moistened wipes and liquid soaps are on the increase, a doctor says.

Recommended for you

Americans are getting more sleep

January 19, 2018
Although more than one in three Americans still don't get enough sleep, a new analysis shows first signs of success in the fight for more shut eye. According to data from 181,335 respondents aged 15 and older who participated ...

Wine is good for you—to a point

January 18, 2018
The Mediterranean diet has become synonymous with healthy eating, but there's one thing in it that stands out: It's cool to drink wine.

Sleep better, lose weight?

January 17, 2018
(HealthDay)—Sleeplessness could cost you when it's time to stand on your bathroom scale, a new British study suggests.

Who uses phone apps to track sleep habits? Mostly the healthy and wealthy in US

January 16, 2018
The profile of most Americans who use popular mobile phone apps that track sleep habits is that they are relatively affluent, claim to eat well, and say they are in good health, even if some of them tend to smoke.

Improvements in mortality rates are slowed by rise in obesity in the United States

January 15, 2018
With countless medical advances and efforts to curb smoking, one might expect that life expectancy in the United States would improve. Yet according to recent studies, there's been a reduction in the rate of improvement in ...

Can muesli help against arthritis?

January 15, 2018
It is well known that healthy eating increases a general sense of wellbeing. Researchers at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) have now discovered that a fibre-rich diet can have a positive influence ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.