AllergyCertified – one world, one label, for skin health

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AllergyCertified is the Danish company bringing scientifically tested accreditation to the global beauty industry. They intend that their distinctive logo – a big blue tick in an irregular circle – will make a skin friendly product as easy to identify as one that is Cruelty-Free. Glass met with AllergyCertified founders: CEO Lene Stiil and toxicologist Ewa Daniél on their recent trip to London, to find out more.

Glass is not surprised that the push for international accreditation has come from Denmark – Nordic consumers are known to be both concerned and well-informed about what’s in their products. All Nordic countries already have their own national certification standards – unlike the UK. But, as Lene points out, “We work with a great many Danish companies, and if they want to grow, then they need to sell outside of Denmark – and it’s easier for a global consumer to recognise a global label.”

For a brand to receive the AllergyCertified mark it must provide Ewa with samples and a fully detailed and documented list of all the raw ingredients, which she will then test to ensure that any potential allergenic, if present, is in a formulation low enough to pose no risk. The companies are legally bound to alert AllergyCertified to any proposed changes in formula, and undergo the testing process again to ensure they are still eligible to carry the certification.

AllergyCertified are rigorous in their testing and evangelical and inspiring in their belief that customers deserve informed choices – but they aren’t purists, determined to reduce beauty to a world of one-size-fits-all conformity. They understand that the modern beauty shopper appreciates choice. ‘You might,” says Lene, “want to buy a non-fragranced body lotion, but a shampoo with perfume – and we think it should be simple and easy for you to make these choices. You can try reading the labels on the bottle, but for most people, the text is too small, and the ingredient list so hard to decipher.”

Sensitive skin or allergies can make shopping for make-up and skincare a frustrating, confusing and time-consuming chore. The absence of internationally agreed accreditation standards allows companies to make unsubstantiated claims regarding the skin-friendliness of their products, and all too often consumers make their choices by trial and – occasionally painful – error. In the UK, the word hypoallergenic is commonly used to suggest a product is unlikely to cause skin reaction – but there is no scientific measure for this term, and no authority that ensures the claim is accurate.

British heritage brand Queen Cosmetics are the first UK skincare brand to carry the AllergyCertified accreditation. Founded by dermatologists almost ninety years ago, Queen Cosmetics produce skincare and make up for sensitive skin. Available online and at luxury London pharmacy John Bell & Croyden, Queen are something of a best kept secret. Managing Director David Lees, “The market has become very crowded and confusing for sensitive skin sufferers … When we heard about the AllergyCertified standard, we knew this was an excellent way of reassuring customers.”

AllergyCertified’s Ewa Daniél told Glass that sensationalist media coverage led to consumers becoming fearful of parabens, but, in their relief at finding products labeled “paraben-free”, they fail to realise that they are likely to be exposing their skin to newer preservatives, which can be far more likely to cause skin reaction.

Similarly, natural products are often viewed as “safer” by consumers when in fact, natural ingredients can be far harder to certify as skin-safe than many synthetics. Ewa is beginning to see allergic reactions in very small children caused by the different skin products they are exposed to – including chamomile and calendula, popular ingredients in natural nappy and skin creams.

We asked Ewa why such reactions are on the rise, and the answer is over-exposure. “Perfume allergy, for instance, is something that used to only really be seen in older women, those who had had a lifetime’s exposure to heavy fragrances – now we’re seeing that in much younger people. Lene and I still like to wear perfume, but we scent our clothes, or our hair – we don’t use it directly on our skin, and this limits the risk.”

In 2015, AllergyCertified established the annual AllergyAward, a way of recognising and publicising skin-safe products. “Doctors and researchers are invited to share their research at the ceremony, and we discuss new allergens, new ingredients. It’s a way to spread the message to the general public and to glamorise the area a little!”

by Rachel McCormack

Discover more about AllergyCertified here
Find Queen Cosmetics here and at John Bell & Croyden

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