For many people, using a moisturizer that is “fragrance-free” or “hypoallergenic” is merely a preference, but for others with conditions like eczema or dermatitis, it can be the difference between healthy skin and itchy, burning skin. This issue is only made worse when products aren’t properly labelled, which, according to a recent study by Northwestern University Feinberg School of medicine, is the vast majority of moisturizers on the shelf today.
In this study, researchers looked at the ingredients of the top 100 moisturizers bought at major retailers and discovered that 83 percent of the products were labelled incorrectly. This means they contained either possible skin irritants or a known allergen. Additionally, 45 percent of the fragrance-free products actually contained fragrance of some kind.
So how is this possible? The number one problem is that under the Food and Drug Administration, moisturizers are labelled as a cosmetic, which means it requires very little regulation of what goes inside of the bottle. This allows them to exploit the idea that their ingredients are “trade secrets” and therefore don’t have to be disclosed to the public.
To help you out on your next trip to the drugstore, here are three phrases you should look out for and know what they really mean.
- Hypoallergenic: This is supposed to mean that the product you’re looking at contains no known, common skin allergens. However, this falls into the category of 83 percent of products tested that were falsely labelled. There are a few products that are guaranteed hypoallergenic such as, Aveeno Eczema Moisturizing cream, Vanicream hypoallergenic products, cold-press/unrefined coconut oil, and white petroleum jelly.
- Fragrance-Free: To be truly fragrance-free, a product shouldn’t contain any ingredient that is categorized as a “fragrance cross reactor or botanical ingredient” by the North American Contact Dermatitis Group. Unfortunately, 45 percent of products in this category that were tested came up containing one or more of these factors.
- Dermatologist Recommended: When it comes to this phrase, it sounds trustworthy enough. But you have to ask yourself – “Who are these dermatologists?” and “How many recommend this product?” To get that label on your product it takes only one dermatologist to say they like it. Unfortunately, there is no sort of panel or regulation for how this phrase gets attached to a product, which makes it easy to deceive a customer into thinking it’s some widely recommended moisturizer when in reality it isn’t.
If shopping for a moisturizer seems a bit daunting now that you know the truth behind the label, there is an easy way to feel more confident: ask your dermatologist. S/He can point you in the right direction for products they know won’t irritate your skin and are truthfully labelled.
And remember, it’s always a good idea to research a moisturizer or any skin care product before buying it. Deciding what’s right for your skin is a very important job that shouldn’t be left to misleading labels at the drug store.
Dermatology Associates offers a full spectrum of leading-edge medical, surgical, and cosmetic dermatology services from offices in Savannah and Vidalia.