Hypoallergenic means to have a decreased tendency to cause allergies; hypo means less, not none. It is used to describe cosmetic & beauty products that cause or claim to cause fewer allergic reactions. That doesn’t necessarily mean it is allergy-proof or gentler for your skin.
The U.S. government Food & Drug Administration doesn’t have standards that products must meet in order to put “hypoallergenic" on the label. The maker doesn’t have to do tests to prove it won’t cause a reaction. It's impossible to guarantee that a cosmetic or skin care product will never cause an allergic reaction.
The term was first used in a cosmetics campaign in 1953. In 1974, the FDA first issued a proposed a ruling to regulate when a product could be labeled "hypoallergenic". It said that a cosmetic would be permitted to be labeled "hypoallergenic" or make similar claims only if scientific studies on human subjects showed that it caused a significantly lower rate of adverse skin reactions than similar products not making such claims. The manufacturers of cosmetics claiming to be "hypoallergenic" were to be responsible for carrying out the required tests.
The proposal was challenged by cosmetic companies Clinique and Almay in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, which ruled that the regulation was invalid. Thus, cosmetic companies are not required to meet any regulations or do any testing to validate their claims.
That sounds pretty shocking right! Well, most trusted skincare & cosmetics companies will do testing to use the term hypoallergenic, it is up to that individual company as to what the PASS mark will be for them to feel comfortable labelling as hypoallergenic. To feel comfortable, most skincare companies will test their product on a group of people and monitor if anyone has sensitivity or allergic type skin reactions. The number of people the product is tested on is complexly up to the skincare company, it could be a handful of 25 people, or it could be a few hundred, maybe 300. There are no rules, so the skincare company make their own. It is important to consumers to read the ingredients label, to trust the source of their beauty products and the company that makes them.