There’s no denying that one of the most attractive qualities of any product we put on our bodies is the scent. No matter how well it moisturizes, no one’s favorite shampoo or face lotion smells like patchouli (no thanks!) Take this Better Homes and Gardens compilation of consumer reviews of the best anti-aging skin products for 2017, for example. 40 products were reviewed, and almost all of them included descriptions like, “best texture, SCENT, and absorption,” or “mild, pleasant SCENT,” or "testers weren’t into the SCENT and called it medicinal.” Scents sell consumers on a product.
But listen. One of the SIMPLEST ways to clean up your bathroom shelf is to scan the ingredients for the words “fragrance” or “parfum/perfume,” and if it's listed, choose a different product. Unfortunately, that’s where so many of the harmful chemicals in personal care products are hidden, largely due to a loophole in the Federal Fair Packaging and Labeling Act of 1973.
“Fragrance secrecy is legal due to a giant loophole in the Federal Fair Packaging and Labeling Act of 1973, which requires companies to list cosmetics ingredients on the product labels but explicitly exempts fragrance,” the EWG explained. But those unlisted ingredients include endocrine disputers, possible carcinogens (ingredients that cause cancer), neurotoxins, and environmental toxins. Fragrances are also considered the leading cause of cosmetic contact dermatitis, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), and allergies to fragrances are also on the rise."
What you should be thinking when you see the F-word listed as an ingredient is, "Oh look! Here are a couple of chemicals that smell good, plus a whole lot of mystery chemicals that disrupt my hormones and are linked to cancer." Umm, no thanks, right? (Read more about the Dirty Ingredients in your Clean Bathroom here)
I know what you’re thinking…Shock. Awe. But hear me out. The absence of “fragrance” in the ingredients list does NOT equate to a boring, unscented product.
In fact, some of the most appealing scents in blind product testings are those naturally produced by essential oils. Some of our personal favorites are magnolia, neroli or any citrus, and lavender.
Bottom line: We can all EASILY avoid hidden chemicals by not purchasing products with “fragrance” or “parfum” listed as an ingredient. Simple enough, right?! But if you just can't give up your favorite perfume, spray it on your clothes, not your skin, so the chemicals aren't as easily absorbed.
We’re actually planning some blind product tests in a few weeks and are excited to share those results with you in our Spring Handbook, set to release in late March.
If you have a favorite fragrance-free product, let us know about it!