Some skincare is like a whole food, completely designed to bring you health, wealth and happiness (the skin kind *winks*) and then there’s ‘other’ skincare. Skincare that has multiple personalities and is trying to say ‘yes’ to every one of them. We’ve all been there, trying to be everything to everyone. We get it. We also get that it’s not a long-term plan. It’s not possible to be our ‘super-women’ self’s all the time, there just ain’t enough batteries in the world *winks*.
This analogy is why, if you want skincare that works, you should avoid fragrance in skincare like the plague (especially if you’ve every suffered from pesky areas of dry skin! More about that later)…
Today I’m going to tell you why, how and who…
Why You Should Avoid Fragrance in Skincare
First up, why should you avoid fragrance in your skincare? I mean that scent is so darn addictive ‘eh! It makes us feel gooooood!… The reason most skincare companies (I’d say at least 80%) put fragrance or essential oils into their skincare is for the same reason a Michelin star chef makes their delicacies look so beautiful on that crisply white bone-china plate.
When It comes to experiences, the more of our senses involved, the bigger and the better our experience. It’s the whole concept behind ‘eating with your eyes’. I’ve defo visually undressed a chocolate or 2 in my lifetime *winks*.
Fragrance, parfum and even essential oils in our skincare are there for the same reason. To make our experience bigger and better. They give us an emotional attachment to the product pick (‘cus it smells so darn divine), it makes us believe it’s working (‘cus we can smell it, so it must be) and it makes us want to use more of it (‘cus we need a fragrance fix!).
All of this means fragrance is not joining the party for your skins benefit. Fragrance in skincare is there to make you ‘fall in love’ with a product so you want to use it again and again. #TheLynxEffect
While we might eat with our eyes and our noses (although don’t literally try that *smiles*), our skin doesn’t. Our skin can’t use our eyes and noses to benefit it’s skin health.
When skincare tries to play-up to our noses, it dilutes the benefit to your skin. Not many people know this, but using fragrance, parfum or even essential oils on your skin, can, will and does promote irritation, dryness, sensitivities, allergic reactions and inflammation.
(a lot of skin conditions like eczema, dermatitis and rosacea can be worsened or even triggered by long term use of skincare that contains fragrance)
That’s because things that have a strong smell are packed full of irritants and allergens. In the same way that our bodies will sneeze when they sniff up a good ol’ dose of these sorts of ingredients (yup, that’s the body’s natural way of trying to reject ’em), our skin will also be battling away leading to inflammation, dryness and sensitivities.
It also doesn’t matter whether that fragrance is natural (from essential oils) or women-made. There is the same potential that it visits with a suitcase full of questionable fashion choices *winks*.
How Can You Avoid Fragrance in Skincare?
You could say everything that smells is fragrance, just not fragrance you’d wanna smell of, any takers for ‘country farm air’ *winks*. So to avoid fragrance in your skincare, you can’t just judge it by smell (because everything smells…), although it is true, the stronger the smell, the more likely it has a hefty does in the bottle.
To avoid ‘dagger’ like sales assistant eyes as you open up every potential purchase to take a wiff of the insides, watch for these 3 simple clues that the skincare pick you have in your hand is accompanied by a dose of fragrance (laced with allergens and irritants).
- Avoid the word ‘parfum’ on the ingredients list. It’s like avoiding added sugar in food. Skincare ingredients lists work the same way… but even simpler than for food. Instead of having 56+ names sugar can hide behind, fragrance has just 2, ‘parfum’ and ‘aroma’… usually it’s the first!
- Watch for scents made famous on the label. Especially with essentials oils, sometimes (handily!) the product will actually tell you on the front of the label with something like, ‘with essential oils’, or ‘scents of lavender and chamomile’. A big picture of a lavender plant (or anything else with flowers) is also an elephant sized hint *winks*.
- Scan the ingredients list for known allergens. There are 26 known allergens that after years of testing the EU has decided are a cause for concern. These allergens have to be labelled in addition to the main ingredients in a skincare formulation. Some of the common ones you might have already seen or remember,… ‘Citral, Limonene, Linalool, Citronellol’ they will always be at the bottom of an ingredients list, so look here for the allergen declaration. To save you remembering them all individually I’ve pulled together a trusty keepsake list of the 26 which you can download through the Honesty skin savvy library by clicking here.
Who Can Help You Avoid Fragrance in Skincare?
Are you ready to start picking up more fragrance free skincare? It’s ok if you’re not ready to commit, I get it, scent can be pretty alluring *winks*. If you have a normal skin type that’s never suffered from areas of irritation or ‘dry patches’ (those are often caused by irritants & allergens!) then you might just be ok as you are. If on the other side, you’ve suffered from areas of dryness or irritation, or even dermatitis, eczema or rosacea, then for you my friend, I’d strongly recommend you take a little peak through your skincare bottles and see if there’s any products that might need switching out…
For those switches, I have some skincare lines that you can trust for fragrance free loveliness…
- Paulas Choice. Always fragrance and allergen free. Full stop. Paula’s choice ranges from cosmeceutical skincare to sensitive skin targeted.
- Cetaphil. Guaranteed fragrance free and one that save on the pennies.
- Clinique. With their tag line of 100% fragrance free and allergy tested, it says it in the name ‘eh *winks*.
- Honesty. Skincare that has its foundations in the natural camp is usually choc full of allergens because of its essential oil content. Essential oils have some skin beneficial ingredients, but you can get their benefits without using the whole essential oil. It’s like un-peeling a clementine. You shouldn’t have to eat the whole thing (skin an’ all) to get your fruit fix. For you if you’re looking for natural and fragrance free skincare.
Do you actively avoid fragrance or allergens in your skincare? Did you know about the ‘catch 22’ of fragrance in skincare?
Cheryl Woodman is a scientist & award winning skincare formulator who’s more friend next door than bow tie wearing professor. As creator of Honesty For Your Skin her aim is to help you care for your skin in the best ways possible. She’s founder of the natural & fragrance free skincare brand Honesty while also hosting 1 to 1 skincare coaching to help you get your best skin yet. Find out more here.