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Picky Panel: Fragrances

Should fragrances be in skincare? This topic starts a lot of debate, which is why we’re turning the question toward our Picky Expert panel in this week’s installment of Picky Panel!

Fragrances in Skincare

When it comes to fragrances, the vote is split. Some people love indulging in the scent of products, while others can’t stand or fear sensitivity to it. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, fragrances are considered the leading cause of allergic reactions! Leading to over 5.7 million doctor visits a year! We know this isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer, which is why we have our panel to provide multiple perspectives.

Question #1

Do you avoid fragrances?

Jenny: Personally, I don’t enjoy heavily fragranced products. I do try to use, and recommend using, fragrance free products. My family and I have eczema prone skin and fragrances can be an irritant.

Satobhisha: Yes, I generally avoid fragrances in skincare products since I have sensitive skin. Although I don’t mind indulging in nice smelling body care products.

Lalita: I generally avoid fragrance in “leave-on” products such as retinols and vitamin C products. As someone with oily and acne-prone skin, I find it irritates my skin and can break me out. However, I’m okay with a lighter fragrance in wash-off products such as a cleanser.

Question #2

Is there a group you recommend NOT use skincare products with fragrances?

Jenny: I don’t recommend fragrance to anyone with a history of contact dermatitis to fragrances or those with eczema, rosacea, or sensitive skin. I even try to dissuade “natural” or “herbal” based skincare for these groups because they tend to be more sensitizing than “chemical/synthetic” ingredients.

Satobhisha: In general, if you have sensitive skin or suffer from skin conditions like dermatitis, acne, etc. then it’s better to avoid fragrant products.

Lalita: I definitely would not recommend fragranced products to those that have sensitive, rosacea and acne-prone skin. Also those with damaged skin barriers should stay away!

Question #3

Have you had difficulty formulating an offensive smelling ingredient without using fragrances?

Satobhisha: Some skincare ingredients like sulfur, lactic acid, acetum (vinegar-acetic acid) etc. have strong odors. So either odor masking ingredients or formulation techniques are generally used while making fragrance free products with these kind of ingredients.

Lalita: Yes. Sulfur-containing compounds have quite an unpleasant odor. However, one trick to “mask” this odor without using added fragrance is to make the product more viscous. This allows for less particles to be exposed to the surface of the product and therefore less odor exposure. You’ll notice many sulfur-contain products are quite viscous for this reason.

Question #4

Is hypoallergenic-fragrance labels different from other fragrances?

Satobhisha: The term “hypoallergenic” isn’t regulated. Repeat Insult Patch Testing (RIPT) is often used to find any potential irritation. However, the test is usually done with a small group of candidates which isn’t enough to substantiate the claim. So, it’s better to always do a patch test since everyone’s skin is unique!

Lalita: “Hypoallergenic” isn’t a legal term. There is no standardized testing or guidelines to make this claim. Most companies that use the “hypoallergenic” label tend to use RIPT to assess for any potential irritants. But these tests are not standardized and lack a large study size to account for all skin types and conditions. It’s always best to rely on your skin’s own personal sensitivity rather than relying on products with this claim.

Picky and Fragrance-free

On the Picky app, you can see in “Attributes” if a product is fragrance-free. Whether you want this ingredient in your product is a personal choice, but Picky respects that! So we have the option for those that need it. Check it out now!

Have more questions you want answered? Well, we’re taking questions from Q&A on Picky so start asking! Don’t forget to check out these Picky Expert’s instagrams, as well as our official Picky account, and click here to go back to our blog!

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