Fragrance in Skin Care

Fragrance in skin care is one of the most common causes of skin reactions, such as contact dermatitis or skin rash. It also can create respiratory problems and lead to allergies.

But this does not stop brands loading up their skin care products with fragrance, either in the form of fragrance oils or essential oils. Sometimes they do this to mask the smell of other ingredients in their skin care formulations, but usually because consumers say they enjoy it as part of their experience of applying their skin care products.

Next time you are swayed to buy a product based on that luscious scent, consider what happens when you use a body wash, shampoo, conditioner, body cream, cleanser, face serum, moisturiser and sunscreen all containing fragrance oils! Any nose is going to be under assault, yet alone your skin. All these fragrance oils are really not necessary in the skin care and personal care products we use.

What’s wrong with fragrance?

Fragrance is a skin aggravating and photo-sensitising ingredient.

Fragrance can be derived from a complex blend of fragrance oils or essential oils.

At Skin Clinica, we prefer skin care products that are free of fragrance oils, irrespective of whether the fragrance is synthetically derived or naturally derived.

Dermatologists generally recommend skin care products that are free of  fragrance oils and essential oils, as they can cause irritation to sensitive skin, worsen skin conditions and be a trigger for people with allergies.

However we know that fragrance is an important part of the sensory experience and many people prefer to use a fragranced product.

Are essential oils better?

Essential oils can be used in skin care products for their active compounds as well as their alluring scent.

Essential oils are often claimed to be better because they are ‘natural’. However essential oils are also problematic for the skin.

Just because a skin care product is labelled natural does not always mean it is better or safer for your skin. Both fragrance oils and essential oils can be irritating and cause photo-dermatitis.

Read our page on Essential Oils in Skin Care to find out why essential oils they can be equally irritating to your skin.

Does fragrance free mean scent free?

If you are very sensitive to fragrance, you will need to ensure that the product is more than just fragrance free.

Just because a product is claimed to be fragrance free does not mean it is scent free. Skin care formulators will often use ingredients that contain masking fragrances to make their products more appealing or to cover up the scent of other ingredients. And some ingredients simply have a distinctive scent and imparts that scent. Mandelic Acid, for example, has its own unique scent.

If you really like fragrance to be a highlight of your skin care experience, try limiting yourself to cleansers and body washes, as they get removed form the skin so there is less chance of contact dermatitis or skin sensitisation.

When it comes to skin care products, such as serums and moisturisers, it is best for you and your skin to choose products that do not have fragrance oils.

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