What are hypoallergenic cosmetics?

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Hypoallergenic cosmetics are products for improving your skin's appearance that may be less likely to cause allergic reactions than other cosmetics. Some ingredients commonly found in conventional cosmetics may cause skin rashes and other allergic reactions in certain people. A product labeled as hypoallergenic contains no ingredients that cause skin problems and other allergic reactions, at least in theory. Keep this in mind: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not test cosmetics to determine if they're hypoallergenic, so any manufacturer can use this term. If you are interested in using hypoallergenic cosmetics, purchase them from a reputable manufacturer. Talk to your dermatologist for advice on which products might be best for your skin.

Hypoallergenic cosmetics are products that makers claim cause fewer allergic reactions than other products. Women with sensitive skin, and even those with "normal" skin, may think these products will be gentler. But there are no federal standards for using the term hypoallergenic. The term can mean whatever a company wants it to mean. Cosmetic makers do not have to prove their claims to the FDA.

Some products that have "natural" ingredients can cause allergic reactions. If you have an allergy to certain plants or animals, you could have an allergic reaction to cosmetics with those things in them. For example, lanolin from sheep wool is found in many lotions. But it's a common cause of allergies too.

The answer is based on source information from the National Women's Health Information Center.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.