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Should Skincare Smell Nice? Delving Into Fragrance in Skincare.

It’s not only about the skin… 

“... consumers’ reactions to a cosmetic product are not only based on the product efficacy but also on subjective factors, such as skin feel and aroma.”

This was the conclusion of a study conducted in 2013. The testers were more drawn to the fragrant product than to the fragrance-free one because they perceived it as more pleasurable. 

The study only confirmed what Daniel Milotic’s study did in 2006: the role of fragrance in consumer satisfaction is often underestimated. 

Humans love having their senses stimulated. Our olfactory system is particularly important to us - we want our sense of smell to be satisfied when analyzing a product. 

Where does that leave us when it comes to fragrance in skincare? 

The answer to that question divided the world… 

Is fragrance absolutely toxic for the skin, as it contains complex chemicals that irritate it or cause harm? 

Is fragrance an essential part of the product, as it makes it more valuable and enjoyable, and are there benefits in essential oils?

In this blog post, we’ll cover some of the topics surrounding fragrance in skincare to equip you with the knowledge you need to make an informed decision. Additionally, we’ll shine light upon a lesser-known subject that ultimately affects us all.

Should I question a fragranced product?

Right off the bat: there’s no simple answer to this. 

The complexity of a skincare product is immense. The term “fragrance” is thrown around everywhere, but it’s only the umbrella under which multiple ingredients lay. Fragrances can be natural or synthetic - more often than not, they’re used as a mix in a product, making it hard to know exactly what could potentially cause skin damage. 

However, there are reasons to consider if you have super sensitive skin or a compromised skin barrier. People with very reactive skin, experiencing rosacea, eczema, allergies etc. may be more prone to developing contact dermatitis because of allergens like fragrance. 

On top of that, The National Center for Biotechnology Information has conducted a study that provided an overview of specific chemicals in cosmetic products. The fragrance was one of the chemical compositions that were discussed.

The results showed that while the amounts of these specific chemicals are quite small, the problem is the very frequent exposure to them and the combination of multiple products that may contain the same ingredient. For example, if 5 of your skin care routine products contain fragrance, your skin could develop a strong reaction as opposed to only 1 product containing it.

As always, the best advice is to conduct a patch test or consult your dermatologist to find a good balance between the science of chemistry and the pleasure of a fresh-smelling product for your particular skin type.

But natural is best right?

When the concerns around fragrance began, companies looked for natural ingredients that could reduce them. For that, essential oils were the answer, these amazingly smelling ingredients have been used for hundreds if not thousands of years. Although some essential oils may have great skin benefits, ecologically speaking, they may be doing more harm than good...

Answer me this: have you ever thought about how many plants they use for a small bottle of essential oils? 

I’ll tell you: ENORMOUS quantities. 

“It takes nearly eight million jasmine blossoms, hand-picked on the day the flowers open, to produce just over 2 pounds of superior essential oil.”, 

Storey writes.

You can now imagine how extensive are the harvesting fields. 

As wild harvesters (and the Earth, for that matter) can’t keep up with the incredible demand, companies have their sources in vast farms that may use pesticides to grow the flowers, thus contributing to environmental harm. The immense fields that this industry requires also result in reduced biodiversity and available space to grow food. 

Look, essential oils are definitely a better option than harsh synthetic ingredients. But let’s not lose sight of the importance of sustainability. 

If possible, do your research on the suppliers of the essential oils in your products. Check their background around sustainability - are they guided by ethical best practices? 

Ideally, you’d want materials sustainably grown or those produced by coops, that bring money for the locals. 

Making the best decisions regarding your skincare products can get to an overwhelming level sometimes. But the only one who knows what your skin likes is you (and probably your dermatologist). 

We recommend intentionally and mindfully assessing your skincare situation, researching the products you use, and making sure both you AND the environment are having the best time. 

At Wildefruit, we haven't found sustainable gentle ways to scent our products which is why they are fragrance free. 


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