Our readers' support allows us to test more products while remaining ad-free. If you make a purchase, we may earn a small commission at no cost to you. We do not accept money for editorial reviews and are not influenced by monetary considerations. Learn more.
We receive many questions about living fragrance-free and switching to perfume-free products. Below are answers to some of the most common questions.
What is fragrance?
Fragrance, also called perfume, is a combination of chemicals that gives a distinct scent. There are over 4,000 different fragrance chemicals currently used in products today, and a single scented product may contain anywhere from 50-300 different ingredients.
Why is fragrance bad for you?
Research has linked fragrance to adverse health effects, including migraines, nausea, asthma, breathing problems, contact dermatitis, skin irritation, and red and itchy rashes, and studies have even found hidden chemicals linked to cancer. But because the FDA protects the use of the term “fragrance” under the provision of “trade secrets,” consumers have no way of knowing which harmful chemicals are used to produce the fragrance.
Are fragrance-free products better for sensitive skin?
Fragrance-free products are better for sensitive skin. Most dermatologists recommend products without fragrance because they are less likely to cause irritation or an allergic reaction. Exposure to fragrances can cause skin sensitivities and irritation and over time lead to allergies.
What is the difference between fragrance-free and unscented?
The term “fragrance-free” means that no fragrance or masking scents are contained or have been added during the production process. The term “unscented” doesn’t mean it’s fragrance-free but just that no additional scents have been added to a product. Therefore, an unscented product can contain natural scents as well as fragrance chemicals that neutralize or mask the harsh chemical smells of other ingredients.
What does hypoallergenic mean?
The term “hypoallergenic” means that a product contains few allergens (substances that cause an allergic reaction). However, because the FDA doesn’t regulate the term, the word “hypoallergenic” printed on a label can mean whatever the manufacturer wants it to mean.
How do I know if I’m allergic to fragrances?
It’s can be difficult to know if you are allergic to or sensitive to fragrances, and which specific fragrances you may be allergic to. Headaches, itchy, scaly, or dry skin, a burning feeling on your skin, and sneezing, runny, or stuffiness of your nose are all symptoms of perfume allergy. Contact your doctor or a dermatologist for more information about how to get tested.