What does "Hypoallergenic" mean in VMV HYPOALLERGENICS®?
I have very allergy-prone or easily-irritated skin. "Hypoallergenic" means less likely to cause allergies. In some countries, the term is not strictly regulated, but there are some best practices that are proven to be effective, all of which are practiced by VMV:
Allergen omission: VH-Rating System Top ^
The best way to reduce the risk of an allergic reaction—to make a product hypoallergenic—is to omit allergens (ingredients that are proven to cause reactions).
In 1988, VMV’s founding dermatologist-dermatopathologist (a specialist in contact dermatitis and skin diseases) created the VH-Number Rating System as a standardized, objective measure of allergen omission.
The VH-Number Rating System shows how many allergens have been omitted from a product using independent, objective references: The North American Contact Dermatitis Group (NACDG) and European Surveillance System on Contact Allergies (ESSCA). These highly specialized groups examine the results of thousands of patch tests to determine which ingredients/allergens are causing the most reactions. If an ingredient makes it to one of these lists, we don’t use it. It’s that simple.
Memorizing the list of allergens is impractical so the VH-Rating is arguably the simplest, most immediate, visible and reliable measure of hypoallergenicity.
If you have had a patch test, the VH-Rating System tells you not only if an allergen is present but also which allergen/s are present. For example, if you are interested in a product and see that its rating is VH -75/76*, you know it contains one common allergen. Find the asterisk on the ingredients list and you’ll find which ingredient is the allergen. If your patch test shows that you’re sensitive to that ingredient, do not use the product. If your patch test does not show the highlighted ingredient, then you should still be able to use the product.
If you haven’t yet had a patch test but have a history of skin sensitivity, choose products with the highest VH-Rating.
Using the fewest number of ingredients Top ^
Simple formulations with as few ingredients as possible minimize the risk of cross reactions.
One of the quickest ways to spot a high-risk product? The longer the ingredients list, the higher the likelihood that you may react to it.
It is a requirement at VMV that our formulations achieve their preventive and therapeutic goals with as few ingredients as possible. This results in our being highly selective about our ingredients—each one has to achieve maximum results and no irritation.
Avoiding red flags: all types of fragrance, parabens, preservatives, dyes, etc. Top ^
Fragrance is consistently at the top of allergen lists, and usually in the top 5. CAUTION: even if you don’t see “perfume” in an ingredient list, the product could still have fragrances or masking fragrances (scents that don’t smell “perfume-y” but that cover up the odors of other ingredients). How? They could be written in their chemical names, for example benzyl alcohol, balsam of peru, geraniol or cinnamic alcohol. In lieu of shopping with a chemist in tow, take a whiff. If the product smells nice it’s probably got a perfume. If it smells bland it’s probably got a masking fragrance. If it smells like a lab, like chemicals, it’s probably fragrance-free.
Lots of preservatives are allergens. Quaternium-15, parabens (methylparaben, propylparaben, etc.) are top allergens. Try to steer clear of them altogether. CAUTION: many products achieve “preservative-free” status by piling on fragrances which have preservative properties.
Dyes are easy to spot: first, it’s close to impossible to get a very bright color from mineral pigments and second, dyes are written as a color followed by a number and usually the word “lake”, e.g. Yellow 6 Lake, Red 22 Lake or Blue 1 Lake. At VMV, some of our lip color, eyeshadows and blushes contains dyes—if you are allergic to dyes, choose from our wide selection of dye-free shades. All our foundations and powders are 100% dye-free.
Other well-known red flags are propylene glycol, rubber (common in cosmetic sponges), propolis (from bees wax) and tea tree oil
Avoiding allergenic naturals Top ^
Even the most organic fragrances are allergenic.
Several tree barks, fruits and their peels, bee products and other natural extracts are highly allergenic.
If you’ve got sensitive skin, hypoallergenic trumps natural all the time. A common misconception is that “natural” and “organic” ingredients are not allergenic. In many cases, it is the opposite that’s true. Bee stings, mangoes, shellfish, pollen, dander, peanuts are examples of different things that, even in their most natural, organic forms, can cause allergic reactions (some very severe) in people who are sensitive to them. And many natural ingredients are on the allergen list.
At VMV, we try to use natural, organic and sustainable ingredients whenever we can. But our first filter is always hypoallergenicity.
Patch testing and Photo-patch testing Top ^
That a product is patch tested is better, but it still may not mean much. Many brands accept reactions of 5-15% of patients tested.
With rare exceptions (which the VH-Rating clearly indicates to alert customers) VMV ingredients, applicators and formulations are approved only if they elicit 0% reactions.
Due to this practice and VH-Ratings, in over 30 years, we’ve averaged less than 0.1% (about 0.008%) of reactions reported to our products, and those were mostly to ingredients not considered to be allergens or due to incorrect product usage.
A little known fact: many allergens are also photo-allergens—chemicals that can react with light (from the sun but also computer screens and office or house lights) to cause darkening. At VMV we use ingredients that are photo-patch tested and proven not to cause photo-allergic reactions (if you are photosensitive, avoid our makeup colors with dyes).
If you are highly allergic, it’s best to get a patch test. This painless procedure shows you exactly which ingredients you need to avoid, even if they’re not yet well-known allergens. It significantly reduces the expense, frustration and irritations that come with random trial and error. If your doctor is also a member of the American Contact Dermatitis Society (contactderm.org), your results can be entered into CAMP (the Contact Allergen Management Program) which can give you not just a list of ingredients to avoid, but a list of specific brands and products that you can use.
If you are very prone to hyperpigmentations (dark spots, blotches or scars), ask your doctor for a photo-patch test. Simple avoidance of the things that trigger your pigmentation can enhance your active lightening therapy or even help clear up existing pigmentations.
Clinical testing Top ^
A big concern about cosmetics is how reliable their claims are. Can you judge a brand’s honesty? One way of vetting a brand is to find out if its clinical studies have been published in medical journals. This is objective proof of legitimate science and can give you some peace of mind.
At VMV, clinical testing is our “thing.” Our claims are supported by clinical trials, including randomized, double-blind (also called “evidence-based”) trials. We have dozens of published studies in peer-reviewed medical journals, and some have won awards and dermatological conventions, too. We do studies for some of the largest pharmaceutical, cosmetic and laser companies, as well.
We have never, and do not, test on animals.
Post-market surveillance Top ^
Monitoring products throughout their “life spans” in the market is frequently done to ensure the consistency of manufacturing quality—that each product is produced according to specifications and behaves the way it should.
At VMV, our post-market surveillance includes continuing case studies and monitors not just production quality but also reported reactions. In this way, we’ve sometimes been able to “flag” certain ingredients before they appeared on allergen lists.
Allergens, what are they? Top ^
Allergens are ingredients commonly found in cosmetic products, clothing, and lots of other materials used in consumer products (on mobile phone casings, laptop sleeves, gym equipment handles, slippers, clothing, underwear, goggles, etc.) and in life in general (plants, pets, etc.) that are known to cause allergic or irritant reactions in skin.
Common allergens are those that tend to cause reactions the most. These are determined by studies that examine the patch test results of thousands of people in multiple clinics and testing centers in different countries.
A common misconception is that “natural” and “organic” ingredients are not allergenic. In many cases, it is the opposite that’s true. Bee stings, mangoes, shellfish, pollen, dander, peanuts are examples of different things that, even in their most natural, organic forms, can cause allergic reactions (some very severe) in people who are sensitive to them. And many natural ingredients are on the allergen list.
I have very allergy-prone or easily-irritated skin Top ^
If you have very allergy-prone or easily irritated skin, we have two suggestions:
Ask your dermatologist for a patch test.
Choose VMV products with the highest VH-Ratings.
A patch test is a painless procedure that shows which ingredients you in particular need to to avoid. This significantly reduces the expense, frustration, and skin trauma of trial and error.
If you are in the USA, ask your dermatologist if s/he uses CAMP (the Contact Allergen Management Program of the American Contact Dermatitis Society). If your physician does use CAMP, s/he'll be able to give you a list of not just your allergens but of specific products that you can use.
What is the VH-Rating System? Top ^
How it works:
The higher the number, the more allergens are ABSENT from a product and the better the chances that you won’t develop a rash or other skin problems.
The slash followed by a number shows the current maximum number of known allergens.The current highest VH Rating is VH - 76/76 (contains 0 of all 76 known allergens).
If a product contains one allergen, its VH-Rating would change to VH -75/76* (contains one allergen out of 76). The asterisk is repeated on the product’s ingredient list so you can quickly identify which is the included allergen (it’s underline, too, so you can’t miss it). If you’ve had a patch test, one glance at the ingredient list can tell you if you can still use the product (if, for example, the included allergen is vitamin E but you’re allergic to parabens). If you haven’t had a patch test, select the higher VH-Rated product.
VMV HYPOALLERGENICS® was the first brand to rate its hypoallergenicity with the VH-Rating System. In 1988, VMV’s founding dermatologist-dermatopathologist (a specialist in contact dermatitis and skin diseases) created the VH-Number Rating System as a standardized, objective measure of allergen omission.
The VH-Rating System is proprietary (an original VMV “skinnovation”). It is the only hypoallergenic rating system of its kind and VMV HYPOALLERGENICS® is still the only brand rating its hypoallergenicity.
The VH-Number Rating System helps clients select the right level of hypoallergenicity for their needs.
The VH-Number is a little like an SPF for hypoallergenicity “SPF" tells you that a product has been tested for sun protection, and the number that follows tells you how high the protection is."VH" tells you that a product has been Validated as Hypoallergenic (VH), and the minus sign and number show you how many allergens are absent from the formulation. The higher the VH-Number, the more allergens are absent from a product, and the more hypoallergenic it is.
The VH-Rating System is based on objective and independent references for allergens: the lists of the most common allergens regularly published by the North American Contact Dermatitis Group (NACDG) and European Surveillance System on Contact Allergies (ESSCA).
Our Commitment To Reformulate When Needed:
"VH" means that a product has been tested—validated—for hypoallergenicity.
"- #" the minus sign followed by a number shows how many allergens are absent in the formulation. Our commitment: The VH-Rating System is effective as long as it and products are regularly updated.
If just one of the ingredients we use makes the allergen list, we reformulate our products to remove it.
Considering the barrage of tests that we subject each raw material, ingredient and final formulation to, this is a daunting, exhaustive process that’s unique to VMV. But it’s our commitment to your skin’s safety.
Our Labels: In an effort to provide the most hypoallergenic products possible, we periodically reformulate our products to be consistent with the latest published allergen lists of the NACDG and ESSCA. If our products remain compliant with new publications and no reformulations are necessary, we still modify our packaging to reflect the new maximum number of allergens if it has changed.
As this process takes some time—and we’d rather not throw away perfectly good packaging!—this sometimes results in VH Ratings on products not yet reflecting the most current publications.
VH -76/76 = Validated Hypoallergenic MINUS all 76 of 76 allergens.
VH -75/76* = Validated Hypoallergenic minus 1 allergen (the product has 75 of 76 allergens omitted), indicated in the ingredients list by an asterisk.
Why is it important to identify the allergen in the ingredients list? Because it is unlikely that anyone would be allergic to all 76 allergens. Knowing which allergen is present can help expand your product options.
For example, if your patch test shows that you are sensitive to parabens but not to dyes (which are known allergens), and a product contains a dye, it’s VH-Rating would be VH-75/76*. With the asterisk, a quick glance at the ingredients would show you that the allergen isn’t one that you are sensitive to, and the product should still be safe for you to use.
If you have not had a patch test and have a history of sensitivity, choose higher VH-Ratings.
NOTE: We are all individuals and you may be sensitive to an ingredient that is not yet considered an allergen. If you have a history of skin sensitivity, your best bet is to ask your doctor for a patch test.
Most VMV products are rated VH -76/76: all 76 known allergens are absent. If we must use an ingredient that appears on the allergen list, it is usually: Present in the smallest possible concentrations, Ranked low on the allergen list, and Indicated in the ingredient list by an asterisk so that you can quickly see if it is an ingredient that you are allergic to (if the ingredient is not in your patch test results, you may still be able to safely use the product).
Almost all VMV products are ranked VH -76/76. While lower VH ratings can work for many people, you can choose products with higher VH numbers if you have a history of allergies or hypersensitivity. This is the beauty of the VH-Rating System: you are empowered with a clear skindication of what allergens are included/excluded so you can more wisely choose what you can use.
For more About VMV, who we are, our testing, our "skintegrity", we invite you to visit About VMV.
Our Skingredients Top ^
We source our ingredients from trusted providers around the world; most come from the highest-quality purveyors in Europe and the USA.
We choose ingredients based solely on their hypoallergenicity, efficacy, quality, beneficial merit, and sustainability ... not on their aesthetic properties or other “marketable” claims.
This punctiliousness is heightened by our policy of using the least amount of ingredients possible (which helps increase a product’s hypoallergenicity). So our ingredients give maximum benefits without having to pile them on, a practice that increases the likelihood of irritations and cross reactions.
Our “skingredients” are so fine (we patch test each and every one!) that we’ve proudly displayed them on our labels since we started in 1979 ... long before U.S. and other countries’ legislation mandated that ingredients be disclosed on cosmetics products.
Our Testing Top ^
You'll see this phrase on all our products. It means that the product was tested using our patch test protocols—at VMV HYPOALLERGENICS®, this means using standard patch test protocols practiced by your doctor and leading experts and then building on top of them.
We patch test each ingredient and raw material that goes into every product we make, the final formulation itself, and even things that aren’t in the product but that touch your skin, like puffs, sponges, and brushes.
As much as possible, we also use packaging that does not contain allergens such as rubber or certain metals. If, for the sake of stability, we must use a packaging material with an allergen (such as a colorant), we make sure that it does not touch the product itself and that the product can be handled without much contact with the problematic surfaces. We also test packaging to confirm that its harmful components do not leach into the formulations inside them.
In Vitro and In Vivo:
In vitro means testing done in a laboratory. Many of our tests are in vitro, but we're proud to say that we also do an extensive amount of in vivo testing.
In vivo means testing done with human volunteers in actual-use conditions. Our Armada sun and light protection products, for example, are subjected to in vivo sunscreen studies to give you protection factors proven in actual-use conditions, not merely in laboratories with simulated skin. We do that, too, but we’re proud to be one of the few companies to always do in vivo sunscreen studies (which we’ve been doing since the 1980s).
Our own clinical studies are further supported by other independent studies published in respected dermatological journals and publications. Our Re-Everything anti-aging line, for example, features kinetin, a growth hormone that performed (with our unbuffered glycolic acid and other active ingredients) excellently in our own randomized, double-blind clinical study. But we still scoured published studies on kinetin in order to further support our decision to use it in our formulations. Finding a wealth of legitimate, published research on kinetin, combined with our own evidence-based studies, we decided it was the right choice for Re-Everything.
No animal testing.
Our standards are so high that we have no shortage of volunteers (the human kind) who are eager to try new products. Plus, we do extensive laboratory (microbial, stability, etc.) testing to ensure both efficacy and safety. If you’re interested in trying new formulations or procedures, contact the VMV Skin Research Centre + Clinics.
We do Evidence-based Studies:
“Evidence-based” is the most respected protocol for product testing, including randomized, double-blind clinical testing on statistically relevant pools of subjects over a specific time period.
Technical difficulties on Our Website Top ^
I received an email confirmation, why was my order not processed?
We’re very sorry when this happens, but even well-maintained sites like ours sometimes experience technical glitches.
Like all electronic systems, ours may experience the rare crash or lag.
Sometimes this occurs due to updates or maintenance, an unexpected spike in traffic, or other problems that cannot be foreseen. If we discover that we have a problem processing your order, we will send you an email to explain what happened, and let you know what your options are. We apologize in advance for any inconvenience that a technical glitch might cause.
I sent an inquiry or request for help through Customer Service ticketing system, why have I not heard from VMV?
As reliable as they normally are, electronic messages and forms can sometimes fail to get delivered. Or, technical problems on the side of your Internet Service Provider can cause bumps in communication that can result in an email or online form not being routed or delivered properly. VMV will usually respond to your message within 24-48 hours during the regular business week. If you do not hear from us within three days of submitting your message, we may not have received it.
I forgot my password.
You can recover your lost account information in our Forgot Your Password (Note: https://www.vmvhypoallergenics.com/customer/account/forgotpassword/") Please enter the e-mail address that you used for registration. Your account information will be sent to you shortly.
If you are unable to find information about your question or concern here, please email our Customer Service team.