What Are Fragrances?

Fragrances in skincare products are basically an additional ingredient that’s added into the formula to improve its overall scent. They usually do not serve any other purpose or add extra benefits to the formula either.  

There are two types of fragrances that we should be wary of, synthetic and natural. Synthetic fragrances are made out of chemicals and something we’d definitely want to avoid at all costs. Whereas natural fragrances are typically made using only ingredients from natural origin. However, it is very important to remember that both synthetic and natural fragrances contain various allergens that could potentially be dangerous to the skin. So, regardless of its source, a natural fragrance is just as likely to cause irritation as a synthetic formula.

Why are Fragrances added into Skincare Products?

Scent is usually what draws you to a product first, and for some, it plays a relatively large role when deciding which product to purchase – which is why there is so much importance placed on fragrances. They are usually thoughtfully chosen and added to formulations to create a sensorial experience and exude an aura of luxury, comfort and opulence which will hopefully sway you into choosing it compared to other cleaner, less toxic alternatives.

Also, no one wants their vanity or their faces to smell unpleasant. And unfortunately, some of beauty’s most amazing and efficacious ingredients don’t have the best of smells, which is why brands choose to neutralise nasty odours to keep those ingredients in their formulas.

What Are Some Examples of Fragrances in Skincare?
  • Synthetic Fragrances – Typically labelled as fragrance, perfume or parfum on an ingredient list, this is the type of fragrance you definitely want to stay clear of and avoid at all costs. Synthetic fragrances are typically derived from petrochemicals and contain phthalates and benzene derivatives that could be harmful and cause irritation on the skin. They are usually a concoction of twenty or more ingredients, which is definitely scary as you won’t find a complete list of components and we’ll never get to understand what exactly is in the fragrance. 
  • Natural Fragrances – Natural fragrances are carefully extracted from natural ingredients, like fruits and flowers. Either through distillation, fermentation or cold-pressing, the result of all these processes leave an extract or compound that encapsulates the scent of the original fruit or flower, which is then added into the formulation of a product to deliver sweet, floral notes. But natural doesn’t always mean good. Especially those with sensitive skin, natural fragrances are filled with allergens like citral and limonene that could cause the skin to react negatively and even trigger sensitisation.
  • Essential Oils – Essential oils work wonders in the realms of aromatherapy, but in skincare, it can do more harm than good. Extracted from flowers, leaves and seeds, these oils are tremendously concentrated and could irritate the skin if not used correctly. Despite their reputation for being soothing, most essential oil compounds (especially citrus oils, lavender and rose) have the power to irritate even the toughest of skin.
Are Fragrances Bad for your Skin?

Fragrances are simply an addition to a formula, not a necessity, they do not add any skincare benefits to the actual product and are purely to enhance your overall sensorial experience. But by adding this unnecessary ingredient, it opens a lot of doors for irritants in your products. Did you know that fragrance in skincare products is one of the most common causes of sensitising and other negative skin reactions to a product. Fragrances almost always trigger sensitisation. And on the skin, it can take the form of a rash, itchiness, peeling and breakouts, just to name a few – which is why at Olumes, we’re avoiding them completely. More drastic reactions could also include, asthma, eczema, nausea and even psoriasis. Holding ourselves to a higher level, we promise to not only be fragrance-free but to follow the strict guidelines of the EU Cosmetic Regulation as well. Only wanting the best ingredients and experience for our customers, the regulation states a total of 26 and soon to be 82, declarable fragrance allergens that need to be listed in your ingredients list (0.001% in leave-on products and 0.01% in a rinse-off product), and we have followed this perfectly to ensure utmost safety and so that even the most sensitive of skin can enjoy our products without having to worry about pesky irritants. However, there are still so many ways for brands to hide allergens within their products. Although limited to 0.001% and 0.01%, this still doesn’t stop brands from incorporating harmful allergens into their formulas! So it is incredibly important to stay vigilant and thorough and try to avoid products that do state ‘fragrance’, as we really won’t know what could be inside them.

Will My Skin Type Affect My Reaction to Fragrances?

Those with fairly normal skin are definitely less vulnerable to the effects of harmful allergens and fragrances. It’s those with sensitive skin and damaged skin barriers that need to be the most alert. Sensitive skin is usually thinner and has fewer protective layers, which is why it is easily triggered by external aggressor such as pollutants and fragrances.

But those with relatively normal skin should not take their skin for granted and should still avoid fragrances at all cost. Even though effects of irritation may not be seen on the surface level and right away, the damage could be happening within the skin, and without you even knowing. Our skin is very good at concealing when its being aggravated and through short term irritation, it could then cause long term effects on the skin.

Does Fragrance-Free Also Mean Unscented?

Fragrance-free doesn’t mean that products don’t have a scent. Instead of adding a fragrance into your formulations, the scent is naturally occurring from ingredients within your formula. With all of our products being fragrance-free, we rely on our rich Bornean ingredients to deliver a scintillating luxurious scent within our products that embodies our breath-taking rainforests.

To Conclude

Fragrances are known to be one of the most irritant causing ingredients in skincare. It has proven to be unnecessary in formulations and products are definitely safer without them. Delivering no additional benefits to the product, it’s a needless ingredient and we’d say it’s best to avoid fragrances as much as you can, especially if you have sensitive skin.