Written By Finnegan Pierson / Reviewed By Ray Spotts
Product labels claiming the contents are hypoallergenic are all too common today. It seems like everyone from cosmetics and skincare brands to your favorite foods is making the claim. However, many consumers do not fully understand what it means, which can lead to serious consequences for individuals with severe allergies.
For example, if someone with a known allergy to an obscure ingredient uses a product claiming to be hypoallergenic, she may still have a reaction. You are probably wondering how that is possible.
Sadly, there is little regulation about what can be called hypoallergenic, so the word can carry several meanings. Keep reading to better understand how the term is commonly used and why understanding that matters.
Hypoallergenic Does Not Mean Allergy-Free
Let's start here since it is the most important point, and because it is also the most confusing one. Hypoallergenic does not mean allergy-free. It is very possible that something with the label will still cause a reaction in individuals with severe or less common allergies.
People often assume the prefix "hypo" means none; however, that is not accurate — at least not according to the etymology of hypoallergenic:
- hypo — from Greek, meaning under, less than, or beneath
- allergen — something that causes an allergy
- ic — from Middle English, meaning having to do with, made of, or caused by
Looking at that definition, it is pretty clear that something labeled hypoallergenic is made up of a substance that is less likely to cause an allergy.
So, now you know that individuals with allergies should not assume that a hypoallergenic product will be safe to use. That does not mean they are all a waste. On the contrary, individuals with sensitive skin can often benefit from using hypoallergenic products. That is because they have fewer common allergy-inducing ingredients.
The ones they do contain are often in lower concentrations. They are often excellent choices for sensitive skin shampoo and cosmetics.
The Difference Between an Allergy and Sensitivity
If you are wondering what the difference between an allergy and a sensitivity is, you are not alone. These are commonly confused terms. An allergy is the result of an immune response where the body attacks a normally harmless substance.
A sensitivity, on the other hand, can be considered an exaggerated but otherwise normal side effect of a product. These reactions can be just as severe and potentially dangerous as an allergic one, so they should not be dismissed because of the lack of immune involvement.
Your Personal Allergies Will Determine Whether You Can Use a Product
This is an important point — you must know your personal allergies in order to find products that are safe to use. Seeing a doctor for allergy testing is the best way to determine exactly what products you need to avoid. Keep in mind that they can test for true immune-induced allergies, however, you may have to identify sensitivities by trial and error.
Learning How To Read Product Labels Is Crucial
Both allergies and sensitivities can cause reactions ranging from mildly uncomfortable to life-threatening. As a result, you need to avoid those allergens or known irritants. One way to do that is by reading labels. Scan the list quickly for anything that stands out; then identify any ingredients you are unfamiliar with.
Many chemicals and compounds are known by several names, so make sure you learn all of the alternative names that your allergen can be listed under.
Unfortunately, the confusion around the hypoallergenic label can have serious consequences. Take steps to uncover your personal allergies, learn how to read labels, and choose products that will be compatible with your body's systems.
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Finnegan Pierson loves business and has a passion for Health and technology. Even more interesting is the combination of the two. As a freelance writer, Finn hopes to influence others so they can have positive life experiences.
Founder Ray Spotts has a passion for all things natural and has made a life study of nature as it relates to health and well-being. Ray became a forerunner bringing products to market that are extraordinarily effective and free from potentially harmful chemicals and additives. For this reason Ray formed Trusted Health Products, a company you can trust for clean, effective, and healthy products. Ray is an organic gardener, likes fishing, hiking, and teaching and mentoring people to start new businesses. You can get his book for free, “How To Succeed In Business Based On God’s Word,” at www.rayspotts.com.