According to the EWG (Environmental Working Group), there are 3,100 chemicals used in the fragrance industry. Fragrance chemicals, like toxic chemicals, can pass from the skin to the blood. So it is alarming when we do not know what's in them or whether they are safe for short or long-term use. And, because manufacturers in the United States are not required to list their fragrance ingredients on product labels, you can never be sure to which potentially toxic chemicals you have been exposed.
"Both natural and artificial fragrances in high concentrations can irritate the skin", says Paul Bigliardi, MD, a professor of dermatology at the University of Minnesota Medical School. "However, some research also shows that fragrances are the most common cause of allergic reactions to cosmetic products, so it's best to choose products with no scent if you have sensitive skin. Skincare products that you can rinse off, such as soaps, are more tolerable and can have a higher concentration of fragrance in them," Bigliardi says. "But products that stay on the skin, such as creams and lotions, should have decreased fragrance concentrations or no fragrance at all.”
If You Are Trying To Avoid Fragrance
Understanding the Packaging Can Help
We know that product language can be misleading, unclear, or incomplete. Here is some basic terminology to give you a better understanding of ingredient labels. First of all, fragrance-free and unscented are not the same. Fragrance-free refers to the intentional lack of chemicals added to enhance aroma or mask an odor. Unscented means that products lack scent; however, there may be potentially toxic masking agents to eliminate the odor. The product may have been intentionally modified to have no noticeable odor.
Essential Oil Free is straightforward. It means no essential oils are used in the formula, but they might still have a natural odor because of the other ingredients used. It also could still contain synthetic fragrances.
We worked with our Vitali chemist to develop a framework to help consumers understand the Fragrance language and associated potential risks.