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1. There is too much ambiguity
There is so much ambiguity about what fragrance can mean in products. No labeling requirements exist. Companies do not have to disclose what chemicals they mean as “fragrance” so it could be any number of things. Sometimes these chemicals cause irritation and adverse reactions. I am all about transparency so I want to know exactly what is in my products.
2. Dermatologists want to know
Since 1998, the American Academy of Dermatology has been in favor of the “identification of the common allergens of fragrances in all formulations of cosmetics, prescription and non-prescription drugs” You can read their whole position statement here. It mentions that yes, they understand that a products specific fragrance would be a trade secret, but there has to be a way to at the very least label if a product has any of the most common irritants.
3. Some fragrances have health consequences
Certain synthetic fragrances can cause migraines, headaches, contact dermatitis, coughing, difficulty breathing, fatigue. Lyral is an example of these chemicals, which is listed as an allergen in the EU, but not in the US. Of course, some botanical ingredients can also cause skin irritation, but those already must be listed on the label so people can be informed.
4. Plthalates are especially worrisome
Fragrances can contain plthalates. It is not entirely clear what long term effect these have on the body. But some studies have found a link between phthalate exposure and endocrine disruption leading to development of breast cancer.
5. Fragrance-free vs. unscented
Fragrance-free is a good thing to look for, but the word “unscented” does not mean fragrance free. Unscented could mean that the manufacturers added synthetic fragrances (chemicals that you may not like) to turn a bad smelling product into something that had no smell. So you should always read the label and know when you see “fragrance” you don’t know what’s behind that!