In a world full of greenwashing and great marketing, it can be difficult to differentiate clean beauty products from their chemical-filled impersonators. How do you know if a beauty product is actually non-toxic?
We have a trick up our sleeves, and it has to do with fragrance in skincare products.
When you evaluate a bottle of lotion or shampoo, you may feel overwhelmed by a long list of unpronounceable ingredients. Luckily, there’s one ingredient that will tell you everything you need to know…
“Fragrance” is one of the best ways to judge whether or not a product is clean. In our opinion, it’s a dead giveaway that something isn’t quite right.
It’s not because pleasant scents or perfumes are inherently bad (we often use essential oils to scent our products). But when placed on an ingredient label, fragrance holds a whole lot more than meets the eye…
Should You Avoid Fragrance in Skincare Products? Everything You Need to Know About Fragrance
Your favorite scent has a dirty secret. Due to industry trade laws (aka, don’t-steal-my-recipe), skincare companies aren’t required to disclose the cocktail of chemicals used to make their signature scents.
Translation? More than 3,000 different toxic chemicals may be included in your skincare products—without your knowledge.
It’s all hiding under the term “fragrance” (or “parfum”). With thousands of chemicals approved by the FDA for one simple term, what’s hiding in fragrance is anyone’s guess.
The concern doesn’t stop there. While the term “fragrance” is supposed to be reserved for scent alone (usually a drop in the bucket compared to other ingredients), many companies use this label to hide extra fillers and chemicals they don’t want you to know about.
Greenwashing brands, specifically, will proudly disclose healthy ingredients on their product—secretly hiding the toxic ones under “fragrance.”
How can you tell? Check to see if “fragrance” is one of the first few ingredients listed.
What chemicals are in your skincare? Here are just a few ingredients that could be hiding in your clean beauty products:
- Benzyl salicylate
- Ethylbenzene (a Volatile Organic Compound)
… and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Most of these chemicals listed are linked to endocrine disruption—and some are banned in the European Union and California.
Common Concerns Associated with Fragrance in Skincare
Is fragrance in skincare actually impacting your day-to-day life? Many people excuse fragrances and other toxic chemicals because they don’t create immediate allergy symptoms.
…or do they?
Maybe we’re just not looking hard enough.
While respiratory symptoms, itchy eyes, and headaches are common reactions to chemicals, everyone responds differently. In our opinion, there’s no way a hefty dose of endocrine disruptors and carcinogens isn’t impacting your health.
Not sure how you’re reacting? Here are just a few common concerns associated with fragrance in skincare:
Often, chemicals can mimic estrogen and hormones in the human body, throwing the endocrine system out of balance. Since the endocrine system is in charge of metabolism, hormone regulation, and blood sugar control, these are usually the systems impacted. Watch for weight gain, high blood sugar, and painful periods.
Not all chemicals wash away when you take a shower. Microscopic particles of plastic may enter our water sources by way of bathing, showering, or swimming—polluting the environment.
Irritation and Allergic Reactions
For those with sensitive skin, fragrance is a common cause of discomfort. Have you ever carefully vetted the ingredients of a clean beauty product and still had a reaction? Likely, this is because of the undisclosed chemicals lurking under “fragrance.”
Toxic burden occurs when the body becomes so overloaded with pathogens, endocrine disruptors, and mycotoxins that it simply cannot handle another blow to the immune system.
When you reach the toxic burden stage, you’ll know it! Likely, you’ll experience sluggishness, brain fog, weight gain, and a lot of inconclusive doctor’s visits. Removing chemicals and fragrances can give your immune system the relief it needs to kick back into gear.
Central Nervous System Damage
Many of the ingredients in our skincare products are considered toxic only in large amounts. This is how companies get away with including heavy metals, formaldehyde, and parabens in their recipes.
But think about it: women on average use twelve different beauty products per day. Regular use adds up—and suddenly you’re experiencing symptoms from the “minuscule” amount of toxins in your products.
Some of these toxins are linked to central nervous system damage and may cause headaches, tiredness, and brain fog.
Is Fragrance-Free Skincare a Better Option for Your Family?
Does all this knowledge about fragrance make you want to burn every lotion bottle you own? It’s an acceptable (and normal) response.
But there is a way to find balance in your beauty routine without obsessing over every scented product in your home.
There are ways to keep the scent without the chemicals!
Here’s how to evaluate whether or not your family should go completely fragrance-free:
Clean and All-Natural Fragrance Skincare Options
With the right research and a healthy fear of greenwashing, clean beauty products can be a safe and healthy option for you and your family. At Toups and Co, we appreciate the value of a pleasantly scented product—just as much as anyone!
The difference? We use high-quality essential oils to provide health benefits and a subtle aroma that’s safe to use on anyone.
Fragrance-Free Skincare Options
There are situations where you might want to opt for fragrance-free skincare products. If you or someone in your family has extremely sensitive skin, severe allergies, or a medical condition (like Multiple Chemical Sensitivity), it may be best to leave the scents behind, at least temporarily.
This can give your body a break—allowing the immune system to catch up and heal before an essential oil is introduced.
Essential Oil Use Tip: If you are experimenting with different essential oils in clean beauty products, make sure you use a carrier oil. This is something like coconut oil, olive oil, or tallow that spreads out the application and reduces the risk of irritation for extremely sensitive skin.
How to Prioritize Your Health in the Modern World
While you’re in the throes of researching chemicals in skincare, it’s important to remember that the beauty industry isn’t all bad news. So many family companies have been working to retain the integrity of their products through generations.
And the remedies our ancestors used before chemicals entered the scene? They are still available to us—and work better than ever.
Whether you’re just starting your clean skincare journey or you’re a seasoned pro, we’re here to walk alongside you through research, investigation, curiosity, and lifestyle changes.