'Hypoallergenic' is meaningless -- It is 'whatever a company wants it mean,' scientists explain
Mother applying lotion (Shutterstock)

A new video by the American Chemical Society explains that "'hypoallergenic' isn't really a thing," largely because the term can mean whatever manufacturers want it to.

"There's one label that's gone unregulated for decades -- 'hypoallergenic,'" Speaking of Chemistry's host Sophia Cai said.

"A hypoallergenic product should mean that it's less likely to give you an allergic reaction," but that's simply not the case, according to the Food and Drug Administration.

"There's actually no scientific evidence," Cai said, "to back up these claims." In fact, according to the official FDA website, "[t]he term means whatever a particular company wants it to mean," and these manufacturers "are not required to submit substantiation of their hypoallergenicity claims to the FDA."

"Back in the 70s, the FDA suggested that the 'hypoallergenic' label should only be applied to products proven to reduce allergic reactions," she explained. "But big name manufacturers fought back, saying those tests would cost too much."

Cai said that in 2014, researchers analyzed 187 children's personal care products bearing labels like "hypoallergenic" and "dermatologist tested," searching for 80 molecules that commonly cause allergic reactions.

"Eighty-nine percent contained a chemical known to cause a skin rash," Cai said. "Eleven percent contained five or more allergens -- and a different 11 percent contained methylisothiazolinone, a preservative that was dubbed 'The Contact Allergen of the Year' in 2013 by a dermatology society."

Watch the entire American Chemical Society video below via YouTube.