Why You Should Ditch Your Scented Cosmetic Products

From lip gloss and face moisturizer, to body wash and deodorant, almost all of us can probably admit to using at least a few cosmetics that are strongly scented with different fragrances. After all, the unscented varieties are so boring! Plus, manufacturers and retailers both love to market fresh new scents to consumers if it means more sales for them.

With satisfied customers who get to smell nice and companies making a profit from selling more product, you’d think that there’s no real problem with buying and selling tons of scented cosmetics if everybody’s happy. All it takes is a little deeper digging into what actually goes into your cosmetics to realize that there is a real problem.

Regardless of how amazing your favorite cosmetics might smell, you could be putting your health at risk. Here are a few big reasons why you may want to start cutting back extensively on how many scented cosmetics you’re using.

Many scented cosmetics contain phthalates, which can wreak havoc on your hormones.

If there’s any one reason to give up scented cosmetics, it should be to keep your hormones balanced. A study published by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics that tested 17 name-brand fragrance products found 12 different hormone-disrupting chemicals.

Many scented cosmetics contain sensitizing chemicals that can trigger allergic reactions.

Out of the 17 products tested, an average of 10 chemicals were identified as allergy sensitizers. For reasons that aren’t quite understood yet by scientists, these chemicals have been known to trigger allergic reactions pertaining to asthma, wheezing, headaches and contact dermatitis.

Scented cosmetics have been found to include “secret chemicals” that weren’t detailed on the label.

Not many people actually read the ingredients on their cosmetic products, but if you do, don’t be fooled into thinking everything it contains is included on the label. Lab results revealed the detection of 38 chemicals contained in the 17 tested products, which were nowhere to be found in their ingredient details.

Several chemicals used in scented cosmetics have not been assessed by authoritative bodies for safe use.

If the previous points didn’t freak you out yet, then maybe this will: The industry-funded and self-policing Cosmetic Industry Review (CIR) had only assessed 19 ingredients out of the 91 that were detected in the 17 tested products of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics study. Likewise, the International Fragrance Association (IFRA) and the Research Institute for Fragrance Materials (RIFM), which both work on establishing voluntary standards of chemicals used in cosmetic products, had assessed just 27 of the 91 ingredients.

Time to go fragrance-free or unscented? Maybe, but maybe not.

Unfortunately, swapping out your scented cosmetics for the ones that are labeled “unscented,” “fragrance-free” or “all natural,” doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be doing yourself a big favor. While you may reduce your exposure to some of the harmful chemicals often included in scented products by opting for the fragrance-free or unscented version, many of them still contain chemicals in smaller amounts.

Now couldn’t be a more perfect time to start making your own cosmetic products, or at least buying from a source that you know is safe and natural. There are sources to help you determine the safest brands, like the EWG’s SkinDeep database. If you choose to go the DIY route, you can always experiment with adding a few drops of your favorite essential oil after conducting a proper aromatherapy safety test first to add a nice, natural scent.

It’s best to treat this type of problem in a similar way that you treat your diet. Just like eating junk food regularly won’t kill you tomorrow, neither will the use scented cosmetic products. There is, however, the possibility of long-term effects and complications that could develop down the road.

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Photo Credit: krheesy


Mike R
Mike Rabout a year ago


Mike R
Mike Rabout a year ago


W. C
W. Cabout a year ago


William C
William Cabout a year ago

Thank you.

Sonia M
Sonia M1 years ago

thanks for sharing

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus3 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Sherry Kohn
Sherry Kohn3 years ago

Many thanks to you !

Nijn E.
Nijn E3 years ago

Something isn't toxic just because you can't pronounce its name. See for example this elucidating image: https://goo.gl/GFDcM3. Something isn't toxic just because it is "synthetic" either: your body cannot distinguish between a fragrance molecule that's naturally emanating from a flowering wilde rose, or the exact same molecule made in a lab.
I do think that manufacturers should be careful with compounds that are (possibly) allergenic; that is their responsibility. And so they should carefully mention all ingredients on the label! If you know you are sensitive to some compounds, I guess you should only buy products that you can trust, but it's sad that you cannot trust all brands automatically.
My own opinion: I don't want to smell like a pell-mell of dozens of different scents, and I also still want to smell a bit like me, so I use mainly fragrence-free products and then one really nice perfume.

Jim Ven
Jim V3 years ago

thanks for the article.

Angela B.
Angela B3 years ago

Thanks for something to think about!! I've noticed more and more 'fragrance free' businesses popping up so I think the allergy problem may be escalating.