Some of those cosmetic claims, like 'hypo-allergenic', are meaningless

SEATTLE - Cosmetics make all sorts of claims, promising to brighten, firm, restore, and more. The truth is, most of these claims are are meaningless.

Very few of the claims you see on cosmetics have a legal definition, so companies can use them anyway they want -- and all-too-often they use them to trick you.

For its November issue, the editors at Consumer Reports' ShopSmart Magazine advised readers to ignore a bunch of cosmetic claims.

ShopSmart says you can ignore hypo-allergenic.

"You see this on everything," said Jamie Hirsch with ShopSmart Magazine. "And the implication is that the product has been tested to insure that it won't cause allergic reaction. And in fact, this term has no legal definition. Even the FDA says that it's a meaningless term and companies can pretty much use it to indicate whatever they want it to indicate."

For sensitive skin, is another popular claim that you can't rely on.

"It might mean that the manufacturer has left out certain ingredients that might be more prone to irritate sensitive skin, things like fragrances for example," Hirsch said. "But again, you really just don't know for sure unless you look at the product ingredients and know what they mean and which things you should avoid if you have sensitive skin."

And then there's lifting -- something you see on anti-aging creams and serums.

"And it sounds great," Hirsch said. "It seems to imply that it's going to give the skin more elasticity, help with drooping and sagging. There's really nothing you can buy over-the-counter at the drugstore that will increase your skin's elasticity. So that is another total throw-away term. You can just ignore it."

You can also ignore "natural" because it doesn't mean anything on a beauty product. It's not the same as "organic," which is regulated.

One more claim to watch out for: "100 percent pure." It makes the product sound clean and free of contaminants. But ask yourself, "100 percent pure what?" The only time this might be important is when the cosmetic has a single ingredient, such as 100 percent aloe vera or witch hazel.