Almost all the products we use smell like something good. And the more pleasant the aroma, the more likely we'll want to keep buying them. We’re naturally drawn to certain scents because of how they make us feel. And the beauty industry often relies on this fact to sell their products.
But if you dig deeper to discover the origins of some of the smells you love, you might be a bit alarmed. We often don’t think much about the word “fragrance” on the ingredient list. Sounds safe enough, right?
The truth is, the word “fragrance” can mean literally any of thousands of chemicals lurking in a product. And because the FDA allows all fragrance-forming ingredients to be wrapped up in a few vague terms like “fragrance,” it’s nearly impossible to truly know the risk you might be taking.
The best way to go about choosing the safest products for you and your family is to always check the ingredient list. Keep your eye out for these terms: “fragrance,” “parfum,” “perfume,” “aroma,” and even “essential oil blend.” They may sound pleasant but what they represent can be harmful to your health.
Some products are coming around these days and are adding scents by using only pure essential oils, which will be listed separately by name on the label. These are non-chemical based and are found in nature. In this case, the product is called “fragrance-free.”
At Nurture My Body, our fragrance-free products contain only pure ingredients that naturally smell good, or we add natural essential oils to a product to achieve a specific smell. We even grow the ingredients ourselves in our own organic permaculture garden! Our labels are transparent so you can trust that what you're putting on your skin is safe.
One important distinction is the difference between “fragrance-free” and “unscented.” You might think these terms are interchangeable. But “unscented” is not what it implies. This term typically means that chemicals were actually added to cover up an unwanted odor. But again, you won’t know what chemicals these are and the harm they can cause because they aren’t required to be named.
How do these unlisted chemicals affect you? Read on to find out the main reasons to avoid the “fragrance” confusion and choose “fragrance-free” for all your skincare instead.
Skin Irritation & Allergies
So what’s all the hubbub over chemical-based fragrances anyway? For one, they’re considered to be a major cause of cosmetic contact dermatitis. If you have eczema or another skin condition, you might notice a flare-up after using fragranced products. Check the label if you find your skin is getting irritated from the skin care you’re using.
Still other effects include headaches, respiratory or sinus irritation, eye irritation, asthma attacks, and other allergic reactions. Even if you can’t trace these symptoms directly to your skincare products, avoiding fragrance chemicals at all costs is the only safe way to go.
Not only can these chemicals be irritating to skin and allergies, but fragrance has also been linked to many serious health problems. According to Safecosmetics.org, some fragrance ingredients are known carcinogens. Others have been shown to be hormone disruptors, which are harmful to our reproductive organs and can affect behavior, fertility, embryo development, and may cause certain cancers.
Many manufactured fragrance chemicals are also considered neurotoxins, which weaken brain function and have been linked to degenerative issues like Parkinson’s disease.
The effects of these chemicals go beyond our own immediate health and are also threatening to the health of our planet. They can end up contaminating our wastewater, the water we drink, the soil, and the air in our homes. They also affects aquatic environments and marine life, and can accumulate in the seafood we eat. Once these chemicals become part of these systems, our risk of exposure increases significantly.
With all that we know about fragrance, it seems surprising that some products still use these chemicals today. We believe your skincare should help you live a healthier life, not add to the many health and environmental concerns we already deal with. The more transparent we all can be, the better equipped we are as consumers to make the right choices. Now that you know the truth, start making the switch to fragrance-free to protect your health and the health of our planet!