We talk quite a bit about fragrance -- or lack thereof -- here on the Seed blog.
Today, I'd like to discuss a common area of confusion in skin care & cosmetics -- the important difference between the meaning of Unscented and Fragrance Free.
This topic stems from a chat I had with my husband. He recently tried out my fragrance free body wash and remarked that he was surprised because his nose thought he could smell "something faint" even though the bottle says fragrance free.
My first thought: “Many people must be curious about this! I should write a blog to explain how fragrance free items may still have a slight scent.”
Yes, he is right. Sometimes you DO pick up a scent from a product which has been labeled “Fragrance Free”. This is not a bad, thing, though.
Labels can be confusing. After all, there are “Unscented” products and “Fragrance Free” products. It’s important to differentiate between the two because there is a major difference in terms of safety.
Fragrance Free is what you are looking for.
This means that no artificial (synthetic) fragrances have been added to the product. As we know, artificial fragrances are one of the most potentially harmful ingredients we can encounter and they are linked to many health issues, from allergies and asthma to cancer. In “fragrance free” items, you do not have to worry about those nasty synthetics. Nothing has been added to remove the natural scents from the butters, oils, and other natural ingredients in the products. In other words, you may smell some of the product’s ingredients such as the olive oil or shea butter.
Unscented does NOT always mean fragrance free.
In fact, if you smell absolutely nothing in your skin care or beauty products, it may be even MORE harmful than you believed. Why? It sounds silly, but unscented products typically have added fragrance agents used to mask the other smells. These masking fragrances trick you into thinking that the product is something it is not and are usually composed of toxic phthalates.
Phthalates are an industrial plasticizing agent.
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.
Fragrance and the allergy link
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 women exhibit the side effects such as redness and irritation and attempt to treat these with more lotions and creams. Since so many of these products havesynthetic fragrance in them, they are applying on more of what is actually causing the problem in the first place. Learn more about artificial fragrance on this recent blog post - Seed blog about artificial fragrance
Be an informed label reader. Just because a jar or bottle screams UNSCENTED on the label does not mean that the product is actually free of harmful fragrance oils.
At Seed, Fragrance Free means just that -- our products do NOT contain artificial fragrance. And if you do wish to have a lightly scented product, we do offer products scented with 100% pure essential oils.
What have YOU been thinking about lately? I’d love to know.
Yours in health & harmony, Karley