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Avoiding Fragrance in Skin Care

In many personal care products, fragrance is added to impart a pleasant smell or to cover up offensive odors that may naturally occur in that product. Consumers typically prefer to use products with a pleasant aroma.  However, if you have a fragrance allergy or experience contact dermatitis, it is important to avoid fragranced products.

Just because it says fragrance-free doesn't mean it's free of fragrance

Formulating products without fragrance that still appeal to consumers is very challenging. It can also be difficult for consumers to identify which products are truly fragrance free. Some products may not list “fragrance” in the ingredients but may instead use ingredients that naturally impart a fragrance. For example, a product may contain plant oils or extracts that impart a pleasant odor but still label the product as fragrance-free. A product labelled as "unscented", “natural”, “organic” or even “hypoallergenic” may still cause reactions in sensitive consumers. As a result, finding skin and hair care products without fragrance can be a real problem.

Read the ingredient list

Before purchasing a skin or hair care product, you can often open the cap and smell the contents. A fragrant aroma can be detected by this “sniff test” regardless of the label claims. However, this may not be ideal if you have a fragrance allergy or sensitivity and is not possible if the container has a safety seal. In those instances, you need to rely on the ingredient list, which is typically found on the back of the product.

What to avoid

Because the ingredient names associated with fragrance may be difficult to identify, we have compiled a list of fragrances to help sensitive consumers avoid these problematic ingredients. Comparing your personal care products to this list will help you determine which products you may need to avoid!

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