Dear Heloise: I use emojis when I text and email my friends, but are emojis acceptable at any time in business writing?

 — Hunter in Texas

Hunter, it’s important to gauge the climate of your office and the tone of your co-workers, bosses and clients. An emoji, sometimes called an “emoticon,” is a tiny cartoon picture used to convey a feeling or emotion. There are hundreds of emojis out there; a simple smiley face is a popular emoji.

Experts agree: No emojis on the first few emails, instant messages, interoffice bulletin boards or texts to the boss or client. Once you establish a working relationship with someone, a “Have a nice weekend” with a smiley face to close out an email might be OK.

Use emojis in your work-related writings sparingly. You don’t want to appear too immature, casual, unprofessional or silly.

— Heloise

Say what?

Dear Heloise: I hear the word “hypoallergenic” a lot. What does it mean?

 — Lara F. in Arizona

Lara, great question! Let’s break it down. The prefix “hypo” means “below” or “less than normal.” “Allergenic” refers to an allergy, where your body negatively reacts to a particle, irritant or stimuli in the environment or in this product.

Therefore, an item labeled “hypoallergenic” is deemed by the manufacturer to cause fewer problems for the consumer.

But hold the phone. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (www.FDA.gov) has no guidelines for exactly what “hypoallergenic” means, and what standards a product would have to uphold to be deemed hypoallergenic.

In other words, it’s a buzzword, used by advertisers to entice you to feel more favorably about a product.

Fortunately, the ingredients are listed on the packaging. Discuss with your dermatologist, for example, about a skin care product labeled “hypoallergenic.” She or he will help you understand what’s safe and healthy for you.

— Heloise

Send a great hint to:


P.O. Box 795001

San Antonio, TX 78279-5001

Fax: 1-210-HELOISE

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