Fragrance or parfum can often be the deciding factor for whether you buy a product or you don’t. It’s the make or break of a purchase. If it smells good, you’ll buy it. If not, you won’t.
And therein lies a big problem.
Fragrance is a major skin irritant and has absolutely NO benefit to the skin whatsoever. None. Zip. Zero. It can increase photosensitivity in turn accelerating the ageing process, and put you at much greater risk of developing pigmentation.
It has absolutely no business whatsoever being in skincare products. In fact, you could say that it instantly turns a skin ‘care’ product into a skin ‘uncaring’ product.
When you see ‘Fragrance’ or ‘Parfum’ listed in the ingredients deck, it’s likely a combination of any number of up to 4000~ individual ingredients. It might be 2 or 3 ingredients – or it might be 100. Regardless, you’ll probably never know exactly which ingredients are being used to create that fragrance. Product formulators aren’t required to declare it because it’s considered a ‘trade secret’ in most cases – both in the US and Australia.
In some cases, fragrance may simple exist in a product to help make an otherwise very unpleasant smelling product a little more pleasant/bearable (it’s not a selling point). It should always be right at the very bottom of the ingredients deck in this case and if you enquired, the formulator may even disclose what ingredients they’ve used.
Unfortunately, when it comes to department store skincare, fragrance is often used as the selling point. You pick up a product, smell it, and it’s instantly an attractive, pleasant smell. These products play on your senses (things like sight and smell) to win you over. Will they actually benefit your skin? Probably not!
Essential oils are not exempt either. Often listed instead of the word ‘fragrance’ but they still carry the exact same warnings (eg. Skin irritations, photosensitivity, etc). Essential oils are highly concentrated and do not benefit the skin in any way especially at high percentages. They should never be applied to the skin – especially neat.
Spraying fragrances/perfumes directly onto your skin is probably one of the worst things you could possibly do. If you must, spray it onto your clothes instead and save your skin from the associated side effects.
Other names that might be listed include Limonene, Linalool, Geraniol and Parfum.