Say no to fragrances in cosmetics?

I have long been drawn to creams that smell like freshly cut flowers, or to the seaside, by facial cleansers that make me feel like I'm eating an orange or drinking mint tea. . Until the day I came across an article about fragrances in cosmetics. I then questioned myself. What makes these creams smell good? Is it really good? Should I be suspicious?

Fragrances on the skin: beware

Industry has teased us with its products all the more attractive than the other, but in reality, they could cause more harm than good. The purpose of this article is not to convince you, but rather to make you think, just as I did, to be able to make informed choices.

In the literal sense, fragrance is "a pleasant smell". Pretty simple when you think about it! But in cosmetics it's just the opposite ...

On your beauty products, this pleasant odor is noted under the name fragrance, perfume, perfume, essential oil blend or even aroma, and that's what's worrying! It goes without saying that to manufacture them, we use several tens (and sometimes hundreds) of chemicals. It is not the fact that they are "chemical" that worries, it is rather that the ingredients that constitute them are not clearly identified. Indeed, the mixtures of chemical and / or natural products used to make them are "well-kept secrets", and for the moment nothing obliges the companies to reveal to us what they are made of. So you apply on your skin, hundreds of products, you do not know anything.

Lack of transparency

The IRFA (International Fragrance Association), however, has published, in collaboration with various members of the industry, a list of frequently used ingredients in perfumes. Although not exhaustive, it gives a good idea of ​​what is likely to be in your scented cosmetics. Some ingredients are harmless, but it will be said that some of them are linked to certain cancers, reproductive problems, allergies, and so on. Examples include eugenyl methyl ether (methyleugenol), ethanolamines (MEA, DEA, TEA), formaldehyde and its derivatives (diazolidinyl urea), etc. Again, the problem is that we have no way of knowing if the product we use contains it!

Besides this, several studies support the fact that fragrances are among the most important causes of skin sensitivity. Damage to it may not always be visible on the surface and not immediately.

Essential oils

Attention also to essential oils! The fact that they are "natural" involves a lot, but many are listed as being great sensitizers, as well as synthetic fragrances. An example is the essential lemon oil (and those in the same family) that is in addition to being irritating and is photosensitive.

Since I like to qualify things, I will not go scared when I write that I never use products containing fragrances, of any origin. I can say, however, that I make thoughtful choices. The products I use on a regular basis, morning and evening, do not contain any, except for my body soap. I choose not to apply any fragrance on my face, but I still allow myself to apply, on occasion, a scented hand cream.

I make sure to always validate that the fragrance is listed at the bottom of the INCI list of the product I use, also for essential oils.

And when I want to surround myself with a good smell, I light a scented candle or I put a bit of perfume on my clothes. ;)


Camarasa JG, Lluch M, Serra-Baldrich E, et al. Allergic contact dermatitis. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Wiliams and Wilkins; 2001.

Campaing for safe cosmetics, Fragrance, 2016. Spotted at:

Chatard H. Case of sensitization to perfumes with cutaneous and general reactions. Bull Soc Fr Dermatol Syphiligr. 1957; 64: 323.

IFRA. IFRA Ingredients, 2015. Spotted at:

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