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So while there is a direct connection between fragrance and skin irritation, the answer to whether scented skin care products are bad for you, is actually quite complex.

Is Fragrance in Skin Care Really That Bad?

Fragrance in skin care. Does it really cause irritation? We answer all of your questions about the controversial ingredient.

Indulging in a floral scented face mask might seem like a routine act of self-care, but it’s actually a controversial choice.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, fragrance is one of the most common causes of contact dermatitis. It affects roughly 1% of the population. So while there is a direct connection between fragrance and skin irritation, the answer to whether fragrance skin care products are bad for you, is actually not that simple.

Dr. Shari Marchbein, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City (and Krupa Koestline, clean cosmetic chemist and founder of KKT Consultants) answers questions about one of the most hotly debated topics in skin care.

How do you know what fragrance is in a skin care product?

Learn to read labels. Fragrance and Parfum are commonly used terms. However, before you begin whiffing the contents of your bathroom cabinet, be warned, your nose can’t always be trusted. Some natural ingredients like vanilla and almond smell lovely but they aren’t bad for your skin, so the scent alone isn’t a marker. Look out for ingredients like linalool, eugenol, cinnamal, citronellol, and limonene, as these are common irritants.

Who experiences irritation from fragrance?

The bad news is that there’s no way for you to predict if a fragrance in a skin care product will irritate your skin. Sometimes one of your go-to skin care products can irritate you after you’ve been using it for years. This is known as allergic contact dermatitis.

Sensitive skins are more prone to allergic reactions

If you have a sensitive skin, you may be more prone to experience contact dermatitis from scented products. Sensitive skin is almost always found in the same people who may experience rosacea, eczema, dry skin, allergies and asthma. Therefore, if you have skin sensitivities, we recommend using fragrance-free products, like Hernuvin.

Hypoallergenic products are also safer options. However, it’s important to read labels to ensure these formulas don’t contain potential allergic ingredients. Hypoallergenic is a term used when relating to cosmetics that contain ingredients that are unlikely to cause an allergic reaction.

What’s the difference between “fragrance-free” and “unscented” skin care products?

“Fragrance-free” products don’t contain added fragrance. But it is still possible to have a completely fragrance-free product that still has a scent. For example, if something is made with cucumber water, it’ll smell like cucumber even if it doesn’t have fragrance in it. Unscented products don’t have an aroma, but this doesn’t mean they don’t contain fragrance chemicals.

Are “natural” fragrances safer than synthetic fragrances?

The short answer? No. While natural essential oils have become commonly used in the clean beauty space and touted by many brands as being “safer” than synthetic fragrance, they can still cause irritation.

Natural does not always mean better. After all, poison ivy is natural but we all know what happens when we rub it all over ourselves. So using ‘all natural products’ in no way decreases your chance of having a fragrance allergy. It’s important to note that while natural fragrances can be irritating, if the brand uses IFRA guidelines and follows the maximum recommended concentration, they are generally safe. Also worth noting is that preservatives can be fragrant and can be triggers, too.

The bottom line?

If you are unsure whether or not you are allergic to a fragranced product, it’s best to do a patch test by applying a small amount on the inside of your arm or behind your ear. If you don’t experience any signs of irritation, it should be safe to apply on your face. However, if you do experience any irritation, stop using the product immediately.

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[su_quote]The Hernuvin range is all about trying to help people address a true need, a need that is not necessarily only cosmetic or aesthetic.” – Dr Hugo Nel[/su_quote]

Medically designed and scientifically formulated by a specialist plastic surgeon (whose anaesthetist is a breast cancer survivor), Hernuvin is specifically formulated to address the side effects of Chemotherapy and traumatised skin.

Whether your skin is normal, showing the signs of ageing or recovering from the effects of chemotherapy and estrogen depletion, the Hernuvin Skin Care Range offers a simple skin care regime that facilitates the restoration of ailing skin, as well as providing effective prevention and protective assistance for all skin types.

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Article References

Ref: Erin Lukas, the beauty editor of
Hernuvin’s cosmetologist, Liri Victor