Differences Between Natural and Synthetic Fragrances in Skincare Products
Do You Know the Difference Between Natural and Synthetic Fragrances? Here’s why you should.
If a new skincare product causes you to break out in a rash or just generally irritates your skin, the culprit could be the chemicals used to develop the scent that might have drawn you to it in the first place. Fragrances may contain many combinations of chemicals to create one signature scent. And while that synthetic fragrance scent may smell good—it might not be good for your skin. In fact, one report found that fragrances are the most common cause of allergic reactions to cosmetics. That’s why scented products are often the first thing a dermatologist recommends you avoid if you have sensitive skin. The good news: There are natural aromatics that are less likely to trigger complexion flare-ups.
For a product to have a “natural fragrance,” it must contain only ingredients derived from natural origins, like plant extracts and essential oils. In a product with only natural fragrances, no chemically-modified ingredients are introduced to give the fragrance its distinctive scent. (For example, SeeMe Beauty’s serums and creams rely on a blend of lemon peel oil, lavender oil, and a hint of turmeric to create a citrusy, spa-like aroma.)
Synthetic fragrances, on the other hand, contain at least one chemical that isn’t derived from natural aromatic raw materials and, in most cases, contain a combination of many of these chemicals. In fact, the International Fragrance Association lists more than 3,000 ingredients that can be used to comprise a single fragrance. That’s why it can be difficult to tease out which ingredient in a product may be causing an allergic reaction. But keep in mind that switching to a scent-free product isn’t the solution: Products labeled “unscented” may contain chemicals designed to mask those scents that could cause skin irritation.
Bottom Line: So how can you avoid a potentially uncomfortable skin situation? Aim for skin care products altogether free of synthetic fragrances.