I was out shopping, looking for mascara, and noticed that a lot of products say “hypoallergenic” on them. It got me thinking, what does hypoallergenic really mean? Is it a material that’s used? Is there a certification for it? Less allergic than what? I was surprised at some of the answers I found.
As it turns out, our President Walt knows about this topic.
“Hypoallergenic is a word that was created by a small cosmetic company in the early 1960s, and was quickly adopted by the advertising industry to describe products that produce fewer allergic reactions.
The Greek prefix HYPO literally means “less” or “below,” so when a product is designated as hypoallergenic it means that it will conceivably trigger fewer allergic reactions in people who suffer from allergies.
The term does not relate to chemical exposures. The expression has no medical definition, and there is no certification process or organization that reviews whether a product using the word “hypoallergenic” can prove any lessening of allergic reactions.” – “Sleep Safe in a Toxic World” page 22.
With some further research, I found that the use of the word “hypoallergenic” certainly doesn’t stop at cosmetics. It’s evolved with everything from bedding, cleaning supplies, shampoo even to pets. What a wide array of t items that can potentially be labeled “hypoallergenic”!
The frustrating thin, is that it allows companies to make you believe that you are buying a product that will reduce the severity of allergies or even prevent the chance of having an allergic reaction, when in fact there are no certifications for it. It can be used in any way by companies to market their products, and is one of the most commonly used greenwashing terms out there. (For more information on greenwashing, check out our blog HERE.)What does “hypoallergenic” mean?
“Hypoallergenic” is used to represent synthetic products and materials in a flattering light. For example, a polyester dust-mite cover may be of use in keeping dust mites at bay for allergy sufferer, but that’s only part of the story. Such products can also expose users to chemical offgassing and other hazards. Choose certified materials and products for relief from allergy symptoms and chemical exposure. –Lifekind website (http://www.lifekind.com/index.php/site_organic_products?sub=site_organic_ask)
Next time you see the word“hypoallergenic” on a product, ask yourself, “What makes this product hypoallergenic?” You may find that no measures are actually taken to make this loosely used marketing word true.