The Difference Between Unscented and Fragrance Free
Many people assume that unscented and fragrance free are interchangeable terms. This is wrong. Unscented does not mean fragrance free. It sounds silly, but “unscented” products typically have added fragrance agents used to mask the other smells.
Formulas that claim to be unscented can still contain aromatic essential oils, which may upset sensitive skin. If perfumes tend to irritate your skin, check for labels that say “fragrance free.”
Fragrance free is what you are looking for.
This means that no fragrances (artificial or otherwise) have been added to the product. Artificial fragrances are the #1 irritant on skin and one of the most potentially harmful ingredients we can encounter – because they contain phthalates — see below.
They are linked to many health issues, from allergies and asthma to cancer. Fragrance free,” means you should not have to worry about those nasty synthetics. Nothing should be added to remove the natural scents from the butters, oils, and other natural ingredients in the products. You should be able to smell some of the product’s ingredients such as the olive oil or shea butter, etc…
Masking fragrances are bad.
Masking fragrances are usually composed of toxic phthalates. Phthalates are an industrial plasticizing agent. This is found in artificial fragrance, and frequently used in “unscented” and “fragrance free” products. Here is what is on the Cosmetics Database page about phthalates: “More than two decades ago, scientists began building a body of work indicating that phthalates are reproductive and developmental toxicants in laboratory animals, particularly in males. Early studies focused on phthalates’ ability to cause testicular atrophy (e.g., Gray and Buttersworth 1980). New studies are confirming these findings in humans (Swan et al. 2005, Main et al. 2005).”
Phthalates have been linked from everything to testicular cancer to liver cancer, but they are still in almost all synthetic fragrances, including masking agents which cause a product’s other natural scents to disappear.
Allergies and asthma still remain the biggest side effect of artificial fragrance and studies reveal that women are even more susceptible to these side effects. The problem becomes compounded when one exhibits the side effects such as redness and irritation and attempt to treat these with more lotions and creams. Since so many of these products have fragrance in them, they are applying more of what is actually causing the problem in the first place.
What is Fragrance and Why You Should Use Fragrance-Free Products
Fragrances are obviously added to products to make you or the product smell better. Fragrances are concoctions of many ingredients. The terms on the label may indicate “fragrance, perfume, parfum, essential oil, aroma. These can be synthetic or natural and do not have to be individually listed, but only under the umbrella name “fragrance”. Many of the chemicals have not been tested for safety, according to Environmental Working Group (EWG), the consumer non-profit consumer organization. You might have the notion that if it smells like fresh spring flowers, it’s likely made of spring flowers. You couldn’t be more wrong.
Fragrance allergy is the number one cause of cosmetic contact dermatitis in the U.S. Studies show there is a trend of increasing sensitization to fragrances worldwide. The non-profit consumer website, Environmental Working Group (EWG) lists some of the more problematic ingredients, even potentially toxic, used in fragrance:
- Phthalates, which are solvents that can damage liver, kidneys and lungs
- Endocrine disruptors such as benzophenone
- Essential oils that are typically extracted from plants; can have medicinal side effects
- Harsh preservatives
- Musk derived from secretions of male musk deer gland
- Anisyl alcohol
- 1,4-dichlorobenzene (in air fresheners) have been evaluated to be carcinogenic
- Balsam of Peru, and many others
Fragrance-free means none of these ingredients are included in your personal care, skin care or cosmetics your choosing to buy.
What is Unscented
Some raw ingredients may have a scent, which may be pleasant, and some not be pleasant but have a chemical smell to it. The term unscented may be used to mean a fragrance may have been used to mask an odor that is a natural part of the raw ingredient.
Raw ingredients that may have a natural scent and do not include fragrance chemicals, may include shea butter, cocoa butter, coconut oil, most herbs, olive oil, almond oil, honey, beeswax, and others. These types of raw materials or ingredients may not bother most people, but may be very annoying to others.
The Truth About Labeling
If you are chemically sensitive, you no doubt already know that there are certain things that can cause unpleasant reactions on your skin and in your body, and fragrances can be a huge culprit. You are not alone. There are millions of people all over the globe who are chemically sensitive and have experienced serious reactions to scented products.
At SKYN Clinic Custom Blends we have developed a line of skin care and makeup products that are formulated for sensitive skin that are fragrance free, and safe to use if you suffer from allergies or want to prevent sensitive skin from developing.