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Que signifie la mention "hypoallergénique" sur un produit cosmétique ?

What Does the Term “Hypoallergenic” Mean?

If you take a look at the packaging of any cosmetic product, you can see a range of information about its composition and application. In addition to the ingredients, you can also find certain statements. Thus, sometimes you can find the note “hypoallergenic”. But what does that actually mean?

What Are Cosmetic Terms?

Cosmetic terms are texts, images and/or symbols used by cosmetic companies to describe the properties of the skin care products they market. These claims are used as a way to communicate with consumers. Cosmetic claims are regulated by EU Regulation No. 655/2013. Cosmetic treatments placed on the market must comply with the six common criteria established, namely:

  • Compliance with the legislation;

  • Truthfulness;

  • Evidence;

  • Sincerity;

  • Justice;

  • Informed choice.

The claim “hypoallergenic” is one of those claims that allow the consumer to make an informed choice about the formulation. However, a precise explanation of this term must be visible on the package insert to avoid misunderstandings.

What Does the Term “Hypoallergenic” Mean?

Simply said, "hypoallergenic" means that the skincare has been formulated in a way that the risk of skin allergies has been reduced to a minimum. This means that the product contains few or no sensitizing substances. A zero risk for the user in terms of allergies therefore does not exist, but it is minimized.

In a way, the term "hypoallergenic" means that common allergens are not present in the composition of the care. These include acrylates, parabens, bronopol, nickel sulfate, benzophenone-3, synthetic fragrances, alcohol, dyes, sulfates or even phenoxyethanol. Likewise, not only synthetic ingredients are sorted out in this process. Some essential oils can also be particularly allergenic and may not be included in a “hypoallergenic” formula.

Caution, this claim certainly does not eliminate the risk of allergy. Allergenic substances and allergic reactions can vary from person to person. Thus, some people may also be allergic to ingredients that are considered harmless, such as sweet almond oil.

To find out if a skincare product may be allergenic, you need to perform a skin tolerance test on an area of your skin. If you know of a particular ingredient that triggers allergies on your skin, check it against the label, more specifically the I.N.C.I. list.

Here's what you should know. The term “hypoallergenic” is different from the term “dermatologically tested”. Dermatologically tested means that the formula has undergone rigorous testing to prove that it has no unwanted side effects when it comes into contact with the skin. It was not developed to minimize the risk of allergies.

How Is the Hypoallergenicity of a Skin Care Product Usually Tested?

Before a skincare product is launched, patch tests are performed on volunteers at the final product stage. As a reminder, animal testing has been banned for several years now.

These sensitization tests are called HRIPT (“Human Repeat Insult Patch Test”) or RIPT (“Repeat Insult Patch Test”). They are usually conducted with a group of 50, 100 or 200 volunteers who repeatedly apply patches containing the product in question to the skin of the back over a period of six weeks.

If reactions occur, they are observed, noted and interpreted by a dermatologist to confirm or deny that it is an allergen.

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