A hypoallergenic makeup may seem like the newest rage in skin care. But what is it, and how accurate is it? It’s a marketing ploy that a lot of companies use to gain consumers’ trust. In truth, there are very few true hypoallergenic cosmetics on the market. Most companies are just using the term hypoallergenic to give a different look and feel to their products. And customers aren’t even sure what hypoallergenic means.

A hypoallergenic makeup is products that companies claim to make for fewer allergic reactions than traditional cosmetic products without having to worry about irritating your skin. Consumers with sensitive skin, and even “normal” skin, could be led to think that these products would be gentler on their skin than other non-hypo allergenic cosmetics. But that’s not true. Even products containing the most commonly used ingredients can cause allergic reactions. In fact, some of the so-called hypoallergenic cosmetics contain ingredients that can cause allergic reactions: caffeine, artificial preservatives, fragrance, mineral oils, alcohol, and dioxane.

The best hypoallergenic cosmetics won’t have any of these ingredients listed. But just because they’re labeled hypoallergenic doesn’t mean they’re any better. Just as the FDA doesn’t care whether a sunscreen contains the sunscreen known as PABA (para-aminobenzoic acid), the cosmetic industry doesn’t care whether their cleansers contain harsh cleansers with bismuth oxychloride or sodium lauryl sulfate. All that counts are ingredients that cause less of a potential allergic reaction than other ingredients. It’s bad enough that most labels don’t even list what ingredients they’re using in their products, let alone include a list of ingredients that have been proven not to cause problems.

So you want to make sure that the skin cosmetic products you buy are hypoallergenic, but how do you know which companies are actually using safe, effective ingredients? You’ll need to find out yourself. Here are some things to look for when it comes to facial skin care:

Does the company want it to mean that their hypoallergenic cosmetics contain a banned ingredient? If a company wants to use an ingredient that can cause a potential problem for someone with sensitive skin, they’ll do whatever they can to get it. One example is the inclusion of mineral oil in mineral makeup. Some people are naturally more sensitive to this ingredient than others. But even if it’s included in a makeup designed for “all skin types”, it probably won’t cause problems for anyone except those who are particularly sensitive to it.

The best hypoallergenic cosmetics will also use natural ingredients that are as pure as possible. Manufacturers claim that their products are as safe as can be, but if you know anything about cosmetics, you’ve noticed that the less safe a product is, the more money that company makes. If a company spends more money on ads that say that their products are at least as safe as a similar product that’s on the market, you can probably assume that the products are safe. But if a company spends less money on ads that declare their products safe, then they are probably lying.

The best hypoallergenic cosmetics won’t use phrases like “hypo-allergenic” on their labels. Instead, they will use words like “duly hypo-allergenic” or “without triggering allergic reactions”. They will use ingredients like cynergy TK, which helps make skin younger looking, or antioxidants like vitamin E that protect skin from free radical damage. In short, the cosmetic products made by these companies won’t cause an acne breakout, they won’t cause your face to look artificially white after washing, and they will make your skin feel softer than it has in years.

So, what is it that causes an allergic reaction in people? It’s the allergen. Allergic reactions can result not only in redness and irritation, but in serious skin infections. If you use skincare cosmetics that contain ingredients that cause an allergic reaction, the only way to avoid that problem is to stop using the cosmetic. And that’s assuming that you were using the right cosmetics in the first place!