A highly controversial topic within the skincare community is the merit of fragrance within skincare. With many people’s ride or die formulas containing fragrance, beauty worshippers can be willing to defend their holy grail products all day long.

The problem with fragrance in skincare


Fragrances can be categorised as either natural or synthetic which can cause a lot of confusion when purchasing skincare. 

In short terms, synthetic or artificial fragrances are chemicals that are added to products to aid the sensory experience during application. These scents can be used in higher concentrations in products such as body lotions so the pleasant fragrances linger for longer.

Natural fragrances are often hailed as part of a ‘cleaner’ skincare routine and lifestyle and are typically made up of a blend of essential oils.

Here’s the only thing you need to know about fragrance in skincare, fragrance within any make-up or skin care product is pointless at best and irritating at worst. 


Sensitive Skin


Due to the marketing and demonisation surrounding parabens over the last few years, brands have jumped on to clean alternatives and naturally derived ingredients to push a more gentle agenda.

However, if you have sensitive skin you should avoid fragrance like the plague. With absolutely no benefit to your skin except potentially sensitising it over time, is your short term sensory experience worth the potential irritation? 

If you have sensitive skin you have likely already spent a small fortune looking for products and ingredients that don’t aggravate your fussy skin and as such eliminating fragrance and essential oils is a wise choice to avoid further irritation. 

For many people, fragrance in skin care may never manifest as an allergic reaction or even as irritation, however essential oils do sensitise all skin types with repeated use, especially in high quantities.


Avoiding Fragrance


Fragrances both natural and synthetic are used in thousands of products and can be difficult to completely eliminate from your bathroom cabinet. Be sure not to fall for products pushed with a clean, natural marketing message and instead leverage fantastic tools such as InciDecoder to get a scientific breakdown of your products ingredients complete with a general description, their rated irritability and effects on the skin.


Three things to takeaway


  • All ingredients in skincare are ‘chemicals’ and chemicals within such products go through rigorous testing. Do not be fooled by paraben free, chemical free marketing, it exists solely to capitalise on people’s toxicity fears. 
  • Unscented and Fragrance free are two different things. Unscented products through a combination of fragrance ingredients and other chemicals do not emit a noticeable smell. Fragrance free products do not contain any perfuming ingredients whatsoever. 
  • Your face will not fall off if you use fragrance and there’s no need to bin all your favourite fragrance containing brands and creams. As food for thought consider how leave on products may lead to sensitisation that you currently can’t see in the future and whether the sensory experience is worth potential irritation.

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