Fragrance in skincare - Yay or Nay???? I get caught up in this debate quite often, so I thought I’d write out my personal reasons for choosing skincare that includes zero fragrance. This is my personal opinion but also a choice I’ve made based off of extensive studies and scientific research.
It’s been shown through scientific research that fragrance, whether natural or synthetic is an irritant for the skin - any skin - any type - it’s an irritant. An irritant is defined as a substance that causes slight inflammation or other discomfort to the body. I don’t know about you, but I would like to avoid any irritation to my face as much as possible.
As someone that struggled with their skin because of using various products that had irritants like fragrance and drying alcohol, I know first hand how frustrating it can be. I took matters into my own hands and started researching every single ingredient in my skincare lineup and reading article after article to help educate myself. I found that a main irritant for my skin (and others) was fragrance. Now whether or not it’s washed off or left on the skin is where people like debate. In my research I have found that fragrance of any kind, used in anyway on the face, is going to be an irritant. Here’s the scary thing for me, fragrance gets a free pass when it comes to skincare products because it’s technically grandfathered under an act that was passed in 1966 to help protect big companies like Chanel from getting their signature scent copied. So what does that mean? It means that companies do not have to disclose the EXACT ingredients used to create their pleasant scent. Skincare companies, by law, only have to label “fragrance” on their ingredient list even though they could’ve used up to hundreds or thousands of chemicals to create that ONE specific scent. I don’t know about you, but that just doesn’t work for me. Just like I enjoy eating whole foods sourced from the earth, knowing what’s in my skincare is just as important to me.
*images of my skin using high end skincare with fragrance
Now some people may use fragrance in skincare and find that their skin hasn’t reacted in anyway, which is great, except for when you understand that fragrance can be an irritant over time. That means that every time you use a product with fragrance, it can slowly breakdown the integrity of the skin, making it susceptible to redness, dryness, irritation, breakouts, etc. In fact, in many studies, fragrance has been said to be one of the main reasons behind contact dermatitis - a serious allergic reaction. Your skin can be doing totally fine and you’re feeling great and then BAM all of sudden you have a dry, irritated red spot, or a huge cluster of breakouts and you don’t know why. Chances are, it may be related to that fragrance you’ve been using the past while. When companies only have to list one ingredient for fragrance/perfume/parfum, it can be really hard to pin point what exactly is irritating your skin and that just does not work for me.
Fragrance doesn’t always come in the chemical form, as mentioned at the beginning of this post, lots of essential oils are also used as fragrance and then marketed as being “natural” or “organic” to convince consumers that it is beneficial to them. We have to understand that skincare marketing is savvy, smart, and super sophisticated. Heck, there have been times that I’ve almost bought into that beautifully package face mask cause the marketing just got to me. But I stop because I know better now and whether you use fragrance in your skincare or not, I’m just here to educate in what I know based on what I’ve personally been through. My skin does not respond well to fragrance and it is safer for me to avoid it.
*image of my skin since using fragrance free products
I hope this blog post helps you understand a little bit more about the history of fragrance in skincare and why it is problematic. It is my personal opinion that you avoid it as much as you can, whether natural or synthetic, leave on or wash off, it is still categorize as an irritant for your skin.
*images are my own and from pinterest