Why Go Fragrance-Free?
Why Fragrance is a hidden trigger?
One of the most common hidden triggers for eczema flare-ups are fragrances. But are some fragrances worse than others? Today’s article discusses that very question, as well as strategies for minimizing exposure.
The Challenge of Avoiding Fragrances
According to the National Eczema Association, approximately 86% of commercially available body care products (including shampoos, conditioners, soaps, creams and moisturizers) contain fragrances in the United States. When it comes to the potential for allergy, it doesn’t matter whether they’re natural or synthetic. They all have the potential to make your skin inflamed and irritated. While some ingredients in body care are regulated, fragrances are not. Most fragrances are not pre-tested for their allergic impact, and there are thousands of variants. Many are not labeled in a clear way for the regular consumer.
Moving forward, it’s safest to assume that all products you buy contain fragrances, even those you might think would not. For example, deodorants can be labeled Unscented—yet still contain masking agents or pleasant fragrances in the ingredients. Even in products designed for newborns, like baby wipes, baby soaps and childrens’ detergent, scents play a big role in marketing and product recognition. Just because a product is marked safe for a baby, does not make it free of potential allergens.
There can be certain times when fragrances are simply unavoidable. In hotels or public bathrooms, scent diffusers may be placed to freshen and mask undesirable smells. Within your favourite yoga studio might be an essential oil diffuser. On the table of a restaurant can rest a scented candle. Within the racks of a clothing store, you might find yourself engulfed in the scent of the store’s signature scent.
Why Avoiding All Fragrances Works Best
When it comes to fragrances as a trigger, one of the major challenges is that isolation can be impossible. Scent blends can be proprietary, given a specific name by the producing company that hides the components within. Yet even when marketing is not at play, a smell is not truly singular. For example, a bottle of peppermint essential oil does not simply contain the essence of peppermint. Peppermint itself contains thousands of constituents, to make up that scent. One can be allergic to any part of these building blocks of a smell. All these factors makes prevention against flare-ups caused by fragrances notoriously difficult to manage. Instead of trying to target specific things, simplify your efforts by avoiding them altogether.
Now that you know all fragrances have the potential to irritate, you can start by starkly minimizing or completely eliminating scented products.
Focus on what you can control. Consider the products in your bathroom, kitchen, laundry room, garden, medicine cabinet and closet. Read the labels and take note of what’s included.
When shopping, do not take the front label as a conclusive declaration of the product’s contents. Words like ‘neutral’, ‘unscented’, ‘natural’ are appealing; but on most commercial shelves, these words simply mean that the fragrance applied in the production was less heavy-handed.
The right definition of fragrance-free is without added scents. However, even the simplest body care ingredient contains things that have a certain smell. All ingredients come with a smell; it’s natural. At Sade Baron, we faced this challenge by excluding all essential oils that have been known to irritate the skin when designing our fragrance-free products. We also avoided using products that would have a strong smell and leave a reek over the skin—even if it was a pleasant one. Our focus stayed on finding the best vegan actives for the skin that were known to be non-irritating, and only sported mild or neutral smells.
Intrigued? Explore our Fragrance-Free collection (https://www.sadebaron.com/collections/all/fragrance-free?).
National Eczema Association. (n.d.). Fragrances and Perfumes: What You Need to Know. Retrieved from **https://nationaleczema.org/blog/fragrances-perfumes-eczema-allergy/**