The term “fragrance free” is often thrown around but why is it beneficial to use products that are fragrance free? Are products with fragrance bad for you and why?
It’s well known from extensive research that fragrance, whether natural or synthetic, is a common sensitizing ingredient for all skin types. Yet despite this information, fragrance components are present in more skin care products than you can imagine.
How skin reacts to fragrance
The way most fragrance ingredients impart scent is through a volatile reaction. Unfortunately, this natural reaction almost always causes a sensitizing reaction on skin. In fact, research has established that fragranced skin care products are among the most common causes of sensitizing, negative skin responses. This is true for all skin colors and types, not just those with sensitive or redness-prone skin.
Is fragrance free better?
Fragrance-free products are better for skin’s health overall. You might think that because your skin isn’t showing signs of being irritated by the fragranced products you’re using, then it must not be a problem. We wish that were true but it’s still a serious concern because skin is very good at hiding when it’s being irritated. You might not see the damage on skin’s surface, but it can be silently occurring every day, causing minor problems for your skin in the short term and more serious problems in the long term.
Think about it like sun damage from not wearing sunscreen. Research shows that sun damage begins within the first minute your unprotected skin sees the sun. Sun damage is cumulative and potentially deadly, yet separate from a sunburn or tan, you don’t see the full repercussions right away. The visible signs of that damage don’t show up on the surface of skin until years later.
Is there a difference between unscented and fragrance free?
According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, “Fragrance-free means that fragrance materials or masking scents are not used in the product. Unscented generally means that the product may contain chemicals that neutralize or mask the odors of other ingredients.”
However, it’s not so clear-cut for consumers. The difference between the two really comes down to how each brand chooses to define and use those terms. This is where things get tricky. A brand could decide to label their product as fragrance free because it does not contain synthetic fragrance ingredients, yet it may still contain natural fragrance ingredients, like essential oils that are harmful to skin. Or a brand could claim a product is unscented because it does not carry a strong wafting odor… yet sensitizing forms of fragrance may still be present in the formula.
Can your nose know?
Unfortunately, you can’t just rely on your nose. Some natural ingredients have a pleasant fragrance but cause no irritation and are great for skin. Examples include melon, vanilla, cucumber, aloe vera, almond, mango, coconut, cocoa butter, shea butter, and cucumber.
Other times, a product may have no aroma because the fragrance is included to mask the disagreeable odor of other skin care ingredients in the formula.
Tips: All ECO BOOM products are fragrance-free, making them suitable for sensitive skin.