Here's why my products will NEVER be 'hypoallergenic':
When it comes to buying jewellery, many consumers are drawn to the term 'hypoallergenic'. At markets, I'm often asked if the metal findings I use are hypoallergenic, and when I say that they're high quality 316L surgical stainless steel, it's still not enough unless I use the buzzword.
It gives the impression that these products are safer for sensitive ears and skin, but in reality, it's a meaningless word. The truth is that 'hypoallergenic' is often just a marketing ploy used to sell more products, rather than a guarantee of safety. As someone who has done extensive research into good quality metals, I choose not to use this term, and here's why.
What Does 'Hypoallergenic' Really Mean?
Nowadays, the term 'hypoallergenic' implies that a product will not cause an allergic reaction. However, there are no strict regulations or standards in place to define or enforce the use of this term. In fact, the Oxford definition of the word is simply; relatively unlikely to cause an allergic reaction.
This is incredibly vague! You could argue that peanuts are 'relatively unlikely' to cause an allergic reaction as it only affects below 2% of the population in the UK, but that doesn't stop it being an allergen.
I have seen multiple jewellery companies market their products as 'hypoallergic' even though they only use silver-plated brass, and this is arguably one of the lowest quality metals in the industry. If there haven't been any notable problems with customers reacting to the metal, they are well within their rights to label their products as such.
An example of this is when a dermatological study took place in 2017 with a bunch of popular moisturisers. In the end, it found that 83% of the products using the buzzword 'hypoallergenic' actually contained some form of chemical allergen that could cause a reaction. If you'd like to read the study, you can do so here.
Without clear guidelines, companies can label their products as hypoallergenic without any scientific evidence or testing. This means that the term is essentially meaningless and can be used as a marketing tactic to attract consumers who are concerned about allergies.
The Allure of 'Hypoallergenic' Products
Many people with sensitive skin or allergies are naturally drawn to products labelled as hypoallergenic. They believe that these products will be gentler on their skin and less likely to cause irritation. However, this is not always the case.
Since there are no regulations, companies can include whatever they want in their hypoallergenic products. Additionally, what may be hypoallergenic for one person may not be for another, as everyone's skin reacts differently to various substances. This applies to many industries beyond jewellery: skincare, make-up, clothing and even certain dogs, which are labelled and marketed as hypoallergenic.
The term itself was created by a skincare company in the 1950s in order to set themselves apart from the competition, and it's been widely circulated ever since. As such, the label does not guarantee it will be suitable for sensitive skin or ears. For example, many people with piercing sensitivities find that 925 Sterling Silver is best for them, and it could thus be defined as 'hypoallergenic', even though other people still react to it.
So what now?
As a consumer, it's essential to be aware of the marketing tactics used by companies to sell their products. The term 'hypoallergenic' is often used as a way to attract customers, but it holds very little scientific meaning. Instead of relying on that label and taking it at face value, take the time to research the products you are buying are work out what is best for you and your skin.
By being an informed consumer, you can make better choices for your skin's health and well-being.
Every item of jewellery available on my website has a short description detailing the type of metal that is used so you can look out for anything you might have problems with.
In general, all of the polymer clay jewellery uses 316 or 304 stainless steel findings, and the hooks/posts in particular are 316L. It's one of the most environmentally friendly metals in the industry, it doesn't tarnish, it's easy to clean with gentle, soapy water, and is frequently used by piercers as reactions are relatively rare. Other than niobium or titanium, it's one one of the best quality metals out there for jewellery, and it's the most affordable of the three. Of course, it still varies person by person, so make sure you buy whatever is best for your lobes!