Health Tip: Deciphering Cosmetic Labels

Users of cosmetics may find it overwhelming to understand all of the information on product labels.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administrationsays consumers should always read the entire product label before using a cosmetic. And the agency says you should be aware of certain label terms:

  • Hypoallergenic: This term is not expressly defined by the FDA. So just because a product says "hypoallergenic" does not mean it cannot trigger an allergic reaction.
  • Organic or Natural: The fact that a product is labeled "organic" or "natural" does not make it safer to use.
  • Expiration Date:The law does not require any cosmetic to have an expiration date, but many manufacturers display one. The agency recommends keeping track of the date you first used a cosmetic, which will help you determine its age later.

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