I absolutely have a fascination with beauty industry buzz words such as hypoallergenic and noncomedogenic, and how they are used as a marketing strategy for describing beauty products and cosmetics sold worldwide. Many leading manufacturers use these terms in their day to day mantra and expose us to them by way of their advertising dollar.
Are these words a useful terminology?
To a degree since for most of us that shop for our products, we have a tendency to look for these on the label since we are cognizant to their meaning through advertising.
Are they an accurate way of describing a cosmetic or skincare product?
Not really since everyone's skin is different and not a single manufacturer can absolutely guarantee that their product will not cause a problem for all consumers.
Hypoallergenic....What Is It?
This descriptive was used first in a cosmetic campaign dating back to 1953. Noted for a particular cosmetic or skincare product to cause fewer allergic reactions. But it doesn't mean that the product you may be relying on to keep your skin healthy based on this term will still not cause skin to have a reaction.
Noncomedogenic.....What Is It?
This descriptive is typically used again in cosmetics and skincare campaigns to describe their products as not blocking pores, also known as non-occlusive. And of course as many of us know, not blocking pores is a good thing since this is also what will help reduce acne on the skin.
What Does This Really Mean For The Consumer?
These terms sound so scientific don't they, so they must have been tested...right? I mean with such a technical descriptive and through years of subliminal marketing, we have come to accept them as fact and to make us feel safe in selecting the product which is described this way. They must be true!
Although there is much anecdotal evidence scattered throughout forums, message boards, and testimonials from clients, (I have had quite a few myself) which provides evidence that the terms hypoallergenic and noncomedogenic must be accurate, there actually isn't any proven data in clinical trials and has yet to be tested by the US Food and Drug Administration as to the validity of such terms.
However, it is a fact that prevention of occluded pores will definitely reduce acne, especially for those that are prone to acne, but not all forms of acne are caused by blocked pores. So noncomedogenic used as a descriptive helps identify a certain products unlikelihood to cause acne. Products making this claim, I don't know how many times, have caused me to have a breakout. Acne has many other factors that contribute to different outbreaks and they are not all caused by blocked pores alone. But it is extremely important to prevent clogging the pores whenever possible. It will help..... and certainly won't hurt.
When dealing with the term hypoallergenic, this for me is so broad reaching, it is actually quite laughable. I have seen countless beauty products being advertised using this buzz word. I personally have used skincare products that have made this claim and then my skin goes ballistic. Women have written to me about using certain products containing a certain ingredient, identifying it as giving their skin grief.
Have they always identified the true culprit in their skin condition?
Not always...in fact I wrote an article about a correspondence with a customer concerned about Kaolin Clay and as it turned out, it was not the source of her skin problems.
This is the crux of the matter, with so many ingredients in skincare products, it is difficult to narrow it down to just one particular one. In fact it could be several combined, or it may be just one that when mixed with another certain ingredient causes something similar to a chemical reaction.....but let it stand alone, and the skin may not have a reaction. Unless you have access to an individual ingredient to patch test, it is merely an educated guess as to the real allergen within the product.
As in the case of hypoallergenic claims, certain ingredients can cause skin to react with rashes, irritation, burning, itchiness, scaly patches and many other anomalies can occur. Citric Acids (AHA) and Salicylic acid (BHA) can be very irritating for many women and should not be used, especially on those with rosacea. Bismuth Oxychloride is another major source of irritation and itchiness for women including exascerbating acne conditions. Certain Micas will also pose a problem for some. Retinol can cause burning and itching of the skin. And these are only a few examples since I know of women, including myself that have a long list of other ingredients that will cause their skin problems. Paraben allergies are one more!
So Why Do Manufacturers Use These To Promote?
To capture your dollar and to give you a sense of safety you have chosen a product that won't harm you or your skin. These terms are very scientific sounding, however until there is mandated testing and some kind of certification process offered through the FDA, allowing a manufacturer to show their clinical proof, these claims are anecdotal at best and they will continue to use them as a keen marketing hype.
However, these scientific sounding terms will not be used to describe our products since their meaning does not go unchallenged and they really do not have a scientific basis, and many in the medical community do not recognize these terms.
Dermatologists, unless they are into selling a line of products themselves, will not use these terms and will advise you to discontinue use if a certain product is giving you fits, such as a burning rash or itchy skin. Also, manufacturers place on their labels the same warning.
Now hang on a minute, how can they be described as hypoallergenic, yet a disclaimer is also on the label? Isn't this a contradiction of terms?
This is similar to weight loss programs....you know what I mean, the endless disclaimer in teeny tiny print at the bottom of your TV screen; "These results are not typical. Results can vary from individual to individual". Again, they realize that we are individuals and we have different metabolisms, and weight loss programs are not a one size fits all. Some work and some don't. Trial and error...kind of says it all!
Simply put, they place this disclaimer on the label because they are fully aware that not any product can be all things to all people. Everyone's skin is different! Again, they are marketing to the masses, and though there are few in number which may have a reaction, it is through these subliminal messages being used as their ingenious strategy, that has worked to suck in the consumer, myself included, before I got really, really, really smart!!!
We have come to accept it as scientific fact, and with this type of clinical sounding terminology, we become complacent that we are buying the best product for our skin.
Even with our line of mineral cosmetics and ONATI Skin Care line, we cannot absolutely guarantee to be completely irritant free, we certainly know the minerals and botanicals we selected to use in our powders and skincare products to be extremely safe, and are FDA Regulated and Certified for cosmetic use. We are aware however, there are some women and men with extremely sensitive skin, yet for those consumers we hope they give us a try. With our products we feel we can help improve the texture and condition of their skin and our formulations possess the lowest risk of irritants available on the market today. We have omitted the worse offenders that are known to cause ongoing problems for the skin. We always provide a full ingredient list on every jar and bottle and they are displayed on our website for every product offered so you can shop with confidence in knowing exactly what you are getting in your skincare regimen.
Literally, the only way one can tell if a product is going to create a problem for their skin, is to try it! Ingredient labels are an excellent guide, especially if you have had your skin allergy tested and the irritant is known to you.
Remember, many ingredients get blamed for doing certain things to the skin and even to the negative, anecdotal tales of woe on what may or may not have been a problem for a certain skin type can take on a life of its own on the internet. Trying to determine if something is true or not can become a frustrating task.
Rice Powder for instance, has been maligned significantly as to it causing acne and feeding bacteria on the face, when the opposite is true. But you see when it is put out there over and over by the consumer not having an actual knowledge of a certain ingredient, it is easy to make one the scapegoat of their skin problems. Subliminally by others, they have been told to watch out for a certain ingredient when they have no actual data to support it, hence the consumer reacts with a negative.
However, we have had huge positive responses in support of this ingredient and the holistic industry of Ayurvedic medicine has used this for centuries as a poultice in healing ulcerations of the skin and bleeding pimples. Also it has been released from being included in the Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, department of United States Department of Commerce, due to it being completely non hazardous under normal use. This is actually the most (hypoallergenic) safest ingredient we could use in the beauty industry today, not excluding our dietary needs for avoiding allergic reactions.
Truth in labeling is really about taking sales hype with a grain of salt, realize our genetic predisposition to various things we are exposed to in our environment and to the products we use each day, and know as with anything, trial and error is a big part to discovering what works best for us. Don't rely on marketing pitches since they typically take us down the primrose path to youth and beauty with promises we'll look 20 again!
Only three things to remember, love who you are (fine lines and all), take care of yourself and....Always Celebrate Your Natural Beauty!