What does the word "hypoallergenic" really mean?

Allergies can make life really difficult. If you suffer from allergies – whether to food, cosmetics, dust or something else – a product labeled "hypoallergenic" might sound like it will make your life easier.

And it might. Hypoallergenic products claim to cause fewer allergic reactions, and often they are created without use of specific allergens.

However, there is no standard, regulation or requirement that companies must meet in order to use this word in product labeling. It's like the word "noncomedogenic" in this way.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has tried off-and-on to regulate use of the word hypoallergenic, but cosmetic companies have blocked that effort so far.


What ingredients do cause allegic reactions?

So what common cosmetic and skincare ingredients should you avoid? Marie Claire and OrganicConsumers.org have useful lists, which include parabens (such as methyl, butyl, and ethyl hydroxybenzoate), Germall I and II (which are trade names for Imidazolidinyl Urea and Diazolidinyl Urea), petrolatum, and retinoids.

- Parabens are used to preserve shelf life of cosmetics, but they can cause rashes.
- Germalls are also a preservative but the American Academy of Dermatologists finds they can cause contact dermatitis.
- Petrolatum is a cheap ingredient found in many lip balms – it contains mineral oil, which makes you more sensitive to sun damage and interferes with your skin's ability to moisturize itself.
- Retinol is very popular. Check out this quote from the Marie Claire article: "Most dermatologists will concur that despite a laundry list of antiaging and acne-fighting benefits, retinoids are also a classic irritant."

A sneaky cause of allergic reactions can be found in nail polish ingredients like phthalates and formaldehyde – the tougher skin of your hands may not show a reaction, but touching your fingers to your sensitive face can cause skin irritation.

And if you have nut allergies, shea butter can cause a reaction as well!


As you would expect, Cor Silver Skincare products don't contain any of those allergy-causing ingredients.


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