Q: What does fragrance-free mean?

A:

I’ll start with the simple answer… It doesn’t smell. I know, you’re as shocked as I am. But I couldn’t just write one sentence, so let’s dive a little deeper into the realm of fragrance.

There are two types of fragrances; natural and artificial (or synthetic). The latter doesn’t need to be listed in an ingredients list (or INCI list) other than as ‘fragrance’ or ‘parfum’, and their formulations are protected as trade secrets. They can contain a number of chemical substances which can cause anything from headaches, to skin irritation, to drastic allergic reactions, to absolutely nothing detrimental at all. Those with sensitive skin, or specific allergies, might be more at risk of adverse effects. It’s worth mentioning that some ‘artificial’ fragrances still have a high natural content- you just can’t tell by reading the INCI list. 

Natural fragrances are just that, naturally derived.

We’ve grown some pretty strong word associations in this age of eco-warriors, growing veganism and online fear-mongering, but ‘artificial’ does not always mean bad, just as ‘natural’ does not always mean good. At least, for you. If you have a citrus allergy, then a product with a natural citrus fragrance will most likely cause a reaction; one of the reasons that limonene, an allergen commonly used for fragrance, or as a flavouring agent, derived from the peels of citrus fruits, is required by law to be included on the INCI list, even when it exists at less than 0.1% inclusion as a by-product of another ingredient.

Essential oils are commonly used as natural fragrances. They contain the purest, most concentrated extraction from their fruits, and are highly complex chemical compounds. They should be used with the upmost caution.

You might think that fragrances are ingredients added only for their olfactory benefits, but that is not the case. The EU Cosmetics Regulation finds the claim ‘fragrance-free’ to include all ingredients that produce a scent, including those which do so as a secondary function. You are not even allowed to claim that a product is ‘free from artificial fragrances’, because then you are supporting the claim that all artificial ingredients are bad. The same goes for some preservatives, plenty are not only just not bad for your skin, but actually have a positive effect in keeping your product free from dangerous molds and bacteria. Let’s not let one bad apple rot the entire bunch, right? 

Sometimes fragrances are added to cover up the not-so-nice smell of another ingredient, or to cancel it out. You may not be overwhelmed, or even notice, its presence. 

Q+A’s range includes two fragranced products; the Ginger Root Daily Moisturiser and the Peppermint Daily Cleanser. The former includes Ginger Root Extract for its anti ageing claims and Ginger Root Oil for its calming benefits and beautiful fragrance, the latter Peppermint Oil for its anti-bacterial properties; the scent is just a bonus extra! Both natural, we refrain from using artificial fragrances. Why? Because we’re dedicated to being as open and honest about the ingredients we use as possible; no ‘parfum’ in sight! 

You might find some very anti-fragrance articles across the internet, and with anything you might read its always good to have a critical eye. And when it comes to your skin; you know best. If fragranced products cause issue, don’t use them. If you love the smell of your products and haven’t noticed any problems, there’s no need to worry. Cosmetic products are required to pass a series of tests, and would never be sold knowing they were potentially harmful. 

Perhaps taking a bath in some fragrances would, yes, break you out in a rash, but in tiny doses they are perfectly fine. And, you know, some people like fragrance-free cosmetics because they have one gorgeous smelling product (looking at you, Ginger Root Daily Moisturiser), and don’t want clashing scents in their skincare routine.

If I could make everything smell like coconut, I would. 💁‍♀️

So, there you have it! The answer to the question and a little bit more. If you’re ever unsure about whether or not a product might have an ingredient that won’t agree with your skin, all you have to do is ask! 

Until next week,

Amy @ Team Q+A

Amy Robson
Online community coordinator at Q+A and avid embroiderer 

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