Is Fragrance in Skincare Bad?
Fragrance in skincare is a subject that gets a lot of divided and strong opinions. Very often it is a subject of fear-mongering, whether from self-interest or poor knowledge.
Is fragrance in skincare harmful? Does it have any benefits? Are natural essential oils any better than the synthetic fragrance oils?
Skin is a barrier
Skin is the largest organ of the body, and it is brilliant at doing its job.
One of its jobs is to protect us – it protects everything that is on the inside. Also, it prevents everything that is on the outside attacking us from getting in. The skin is under evasion all the time. Microbial invasion, UV light, pollution, disease, all manner of things. And it does an amazingly good job at keeping all of that shit out, doesn’t it?
Natural Essential Oils vs Synthetic Fragrance Oils
Both natural essential oils and synthetic fragrance oils do contain allergens. Some of them will be called out on the ingredients list (like citronel and limonin).
It is said that synthetic fragrance oils don’t have the healing properties of natural essential oils. I disagree with that. The reason why I disagree is that both are a fragrance. We inhale and smell both of them. Let’s not forget - the olfactory limbic system is the most developed out of all of our senses.
Both natural essential oils and synthetic fragrance oils can have a profound effect on our feelings. I believe they have a positive effect, even a healing effect, on our mental and emotional health and wellness.
This is the reason why I created the signature essence blend. It’s not in there to just make the product smell pretty (though that is a lovely by-product). The Signature essence blend is in our products to help increase the feelings of confidence and attraction that contribute to our overall mental and emotional wellness.
In fact, it was one of the pillars of this brand. I knew long along that there is a strong connection between how we look and how we feel. That is why I set out to create the signature essence blend.
Fragrance in skincare is being taken more seriously; it has become a part of the narrative. More and more scientists are having this discussion.
I would go so far as to say that when we feel happier and confident as women, it has a profound effect on the kind of lives we can lead and how happy that life will be.
For the record, we use natural and synthetic oils in our signature essence blend. Both are used in very low quantities (typically 0.1%).
Natural Essential Oils and Skin Ageing
But what about natural essential oils and skin aging? Natural essential oils are complex and largely unregulated. As far as skin aging claims are concerned, there are few, if any, scientific studies that prove their efficacy. That also means there is no optimum dose of any essential oil that has been decided to repair and prevent skin aging.
Because of that, they’ll generally be used in quite minute quantities. Anyone who is relying on pure essential oil to deliver a skin aging claim has to be cognisant of the fact they are known allergens. As such, they are more likely to cause skin sensitivity or irritation. They tend to be used in very low concentrations for that reason.
In my opinion (and this is my opinion), I would go as far as to say that any brand, or any beauty expert, journalist, or influencer, who is decrying the use of fragrance in skincare, but at the same time is supports and promotes any products or brands that use natural essential oils for skin aging claims, or any other skin care claim, is really odd. What do you think?
An Allergy to Fragrance
If you have a true allergy to fragrance in cosmetics, you belong to between 1 and 2% of the UK population. Though it is the most predominant allergy found in the beauty world, it is a relatively small sector of the population affected.
If you have an allergy to the fragrance, you have likely gone through patch testing. You might even know which flower or which fragrance you have the allergy to.
Or you might have a medical skin condition and a medical professional has advised you to avoid products with fragrance in them. I understand people will err on the side of caution (including medical professionals). Even though there is no direct scientific proof that it is the fragrance causing the skin condition that you suffer from or makes it worse, if you feel more comfortable avoiding fragrance, then do avoid it.
But if you are like most of us and you don’t have any of those issues, I think that the benefits of smell on how we feel, on our confidence and happiness, are hugely beneficial to the whole ritual and process of using skincare. If that’s you, I think the benefits of the sensorial experience far outweigh everything else.
I am interested to understand what your opinion is, and what your experience is. For me, the whole experience of involving as many senses as we possibly can, while we go through the ritual of looking after ourselves is, equally beneficial as the effects of those clinically-tested active ingredients that we use in clinical concentrations on our skin.
Let me know what you think. Tell me about what you believe about the connection between how we look, our confidence, and happiness. Whether or not it made a change in your life, whether or not you agree or disagree, with anything I said here.
But please, add your comments below, we should open up this dialogue. It’s something that many people (and there are a lot of opinions out there) have question marks over.