Scented skincare might make for a more sensorial experience, but it can have ramifications for your complexion. Here’s why to go fragrance-free.


We all want to smell good.

As such, many people like all their products to be perfumed so that they make a sweet-smelling first impression.

But fragrances are added to skin care products for one reason. And it’s not because they provide any type of benefit for your skin. They are included in formulations because they make using these products a more sensory experience. Clean, fresh scents can make you believe you are cleaner. Some products incorporate essential oils or naturally-derived scents to tap into the aromatherapy and wellness market.

Both synthetic and natural fragrances and natural can be used on the skin, with perfume being a good example. But when it comes to the delicate skin on our face or skin that is easily irritated, they can – and usually should – be swapped for fragrance-free formulas.

Natural vs. Synthetic

Natural fragrances are ones that derive from natural sources, such as flowers or fruit. Essential oils also fall into this category. These don’t tend to last as long as the synthetic variety but they have all been studied for their benefits (or lack thereof) and are well understood.


But when it comes to your skin, natural doesn’t always mean better. In fact, many people have far more severe allergic reactions to essential oils than synthetic ingredients.

Synthetic fragrances The opposite of natural extracts, synthetic scents are created in labs. Here there is more control over the end result to ensure uniformity in products. It also means that production isn’t dependent on the yield of certain plants or animals.

These are often preferred by brands because the fragrances are designed to last longer. The downside of this is that users can unknowingly apply a product to their skin that’s well past the expiration date and have an adverse reaction.

Fragrances in beauty products can be tolerated in moderation by most skin types. But this doesn’t mean they are beneficial and could, instead, do harm. Where possible, opt for fragrance-free formulations to remove one more potential irritant from your routine (and light a scented candle instead!).