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De-Odorizing Skincare
Author: Debbie May
Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The resolutions of a new year often lead consumers to simplify and detoxify their lives and beauty routines. One natural way to clean up that routine is by going odorless with skincare products.

The holidays bring out our love and thankfulness for each other, as well as the desire to look and smell our best. It's a great time to pamper ourselves and commit to treating our bodies and skin to healthy nurturing ingredients.

Fragrance is the most common cause of allergic skin reactions to cosmetics. While the terms "unscented" and "fragrance-free" are used somewhat interchangeably, they are not at all the same. "Unscented" means that fragrance additives have not been added to the product. "Fragrance-free" implies that the product has no odor. However, even if the product has no scent or odor, it can still contain masking or deodorizing compounds that serve solely to block the odor of other ingredients in the formula.

Fragrance-free skin care products are in demand because of fragrance allergies. According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), fragrances are the leading cause of cosmetic contact dermatitis which is a health condition affecting more than 2 million people today. [1]

The term “fragrance-free” describes a product that does not contain additional fragrances or any substances designed to mask the underlying natural odor of the product. This definition should be simple. However, a number of products with “fragrance-free” on the label actually contain artificial or natural fragrances or masking compounds, sometimes without a disclosure in the ingredients list. Currently, “fragrance-free” has no legal definition and means nothing more than a product has no perceptible odor.

It may seem that “natural” fragrance compounds and essential oils would be a feasible replacement for lab-created scents. In addition to smelling good, many essential oils and natural aroma compounds have a positive effect on our mental health and well-being. It is important, however, to understand that consumers are just as likely to have an allergic reaction to a natural compound as they are to one that is synthetic. A small proportion of people experience skin irritation, allergic reactions, or cross-sensitivity to essential oils. Cross-sensitivity is the potential for an allergic reaction to similar substances (for example, if you are allergic to ragweed, you might also be allergic to chamomile essential oil as they are related plants). [2] Some experts aren't sure if it's the aroma compound itself that is the real issue, or if it is just one part of a mix of chemicals (many lab-created fragrances can contain hundreds of aroma components) that causes sensitivity. [3]

With the increase of chemical-related problems such as Multiple Chemical Sensitivity; In the United States and Canada, an increasing number of clinics, schools, universities, churches, public buildings and meeting places, lodging, buses, and workplaces have declared their institutions fragrance-free. [4] Most of the organizations that have implemented fragrance-free zones or workplaces undertook the initial effort as a response to either a negative incident or because of an employee’s complaint or request for accommodation.

It's estimated that 5.72 million people in the U.S. are allergic or sensitive to fragrance. This is a huge market segment that many formulators seem to overlook. If you aren’t already manufacturing products that exclude aroma compounds, you could be missing the boat.

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