Why The 'Hypoallergenic' Label On Your Skincare May Not Mean What You Think It Does

If you've ever stepped foot in a beauty store, it's easy to get bombarded by a multitude of skincare terms and phrases. Many of these are easy to understand, like fragrance-free, but others require more research. Although many terms have been used for ages in skincare, they don't always mean what you would imagine. The label 'hypoallergenic' is a prime example of this concept. Although many think of hypoallergenic products as products that don't contribute to allergic reactions, the skincare term doesn't exactly prove anything.


Like many other labels and terms created by the skin care industry (like clean beauty), hypoallergenic isn't always the most proven way of avoiding irritation and reactions. Although brands do attempt to prove their hypoallergenic status, it's not always what it seems. Knowing the true meaning behind some of these skincare terms will help you make the best decision for your skincare products. Whenever you are applying a product to your skin, it's vital to ensure it is safe for your skin. Nothing but a marketing term, hypoallergenic shouldn't be the only factor to look for when picking out your next skincare product.

What does hypoallergenic mean?

Anyone who has seen the term hypoallergenic on a product before would guess it's a skincare product that is made out of ingredients not known to cause reactions or irritations, especially to those with sensitive skin. However, unlike other skincare terms like clean beauty, this is simply another creation of the industry. In reality, there is no standard for a product to be labeled hypoallergenic. The FDA, the regulating body in the United States, does not have a standard or guidance for testing hypoallergenic claims. So while there's no official testing or regulation to prove the claim, many brands opt to add the term hypoallergenic to their products. 


For those with sensitive skin, hypoallergenic can be a tempting advantage when choosing one product over another. While there's no testing done by the FDA to prove that a product is hypoallergenic, many brands test out their claims in studies and testing. Most of the time these case studies will be used in marketing to help reinforce their claims. If you have no idea how safe a product is from allergens, you'll want to focus on reading the product label over anything else.

Signs you are allergic to a product

The best way to deduce whether a product causes a reaction on your skin is to conduct a patch test on the skin. If you know that your skin tends to have a reaction or irritation to certain ingredients, you'll want to try new products on a small area of the skin. Not every allergic reaction or irritation will be obvious at first. Depending on how sensitive your skin is to an ingredient, it can be challenging to know if the reaction is normal or not. The easiest way to know if you have sensitivity to a product is by seeing if it produces any hives, redness, burning, or rashes.


It will only take a few minutes for your skin to show any visible signs of allergy or sensitivity. While a slight burning sensation may be common for certain products, it's not typical for it to last minutes after your skincare is complete. If you've already finished your routine and find that your skin is starting to burn, it could be an adverse reaction. In more serious situations, you'll start to notice hives and blisters start to appear on the skin. These reactions make it much more important to test out any new product on a small patch of skin before applying it on a larger area.