Fragrance has no purpose in skin care because how a product smells has no effect on how it "cares" for your skin. Fragrance is just there to sell the product to you because if you like the way something smells, you are more likely to buy it regardless of whether or not the product works or not.
The problem with fragrance is that it is a cytotoxic agent. Fragrance is made up of essential oils, and essential oils break down the cell and initiate the process of cellular decay and death. When you use a skin care product containing fragrance, the cellular damage manifests in the following ways:
1. Dry, brittle skin
3. Contact dermatitis
4. Allergic reactions
5. Skin sensitivity
6. Skin redness
7. Accelerated aging
8. Peeling skin
9. Burned skin
10. Increased oiliness
All of the above are items that have been discussed in previous Mask of Vanity blog posts, however one thing that has not been mentioned is how fragrance effects more than your skin, it affects your overall heath too. Specifically, fragrance in skin care enters into your bloodstream and can become toxic over time.
Fragrance in the bottle, fragrance in your blood
Toxicology studies have been conducted on users who have used fragrance in their cosmetics and skin care, which has resulted in the detection of significant amounts of fragrance within the blood stream.
H.-P. Hutter et al. in their study on fragrance in skin care found that 93% of their participants who used products daily that contained fragrance had significant traces of fragrance detected in their bloodstream. And some fragrance components were found in higher amounts than others, indicating a higher efficiency for penetrating the skin and entering into the bloodstream. The most concerning was musk xylene, which was found in 79% of the study's participants, which can accumulate in the body, and may become carcinogenic (cancer-causing) over time.
What was also concerning about the H.-P. Hutter et al. study was that traces of a banned fragrance ingredient was found in two test subjects. The finding of a banned fragrance ingredient highlights another major issue with fragrance in skincare and cosmetics, which is the fact that manufacturers do not need to disclose what is in their "fragrance". They just need to disclose that they used "fragrance" in their ingredient list.
The ingredient list of a famous luxury cream. "Fragrance" is listed amongst the ingredients.
The Secret Danger
Fragrance is considered a trade secret because the blend to make the fragrance is a recipe, and recipes can be kept secret. Therefore, no matter what ingredients compose the fragrance, those ingredients can be kept hidden as long as the manufacturer discloses that there is fragrance in the product. So the fragrance can contain banned ingredients, cancer-causing ingredients, or anything else, and there is no way to tell because all of those ingredients are hidden and protected under the blanket term "fragrance."
And this is why fragrance in skin care and cosmetics is a problem. You don't know what is in the fragrance, company's do not need to disclose what is in their fragrance, which opens the door for harmful, yet nice-smelling, ingredients to be put into your skin care and then into your bloodstream.
Cancer, poisoned pregnancy, and environmental pollution
Additional studies have found that the effects of long-term presence of fragrance in the bloodstream can lead to genotoxicity. Specifically, the chemical agents that make up the fragrance in your skin care will damage the genetic information inside the cell causing mutations, which may lead to cancer. Fragrance has also been found to cause endocrine disruption activity. Endocrine disruption can lead to diseases such as diabetes, adrenal cancer, thyroid disorders and cancers, osteoporosis and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
Follow up studies have found that the accumulation of fragrance within the blood is higher with the increased age of the participants. Participants over 50 years of age have a higher concentration of fragrance in their blood compares to younger participants. Indicating that the body becomes less efficient at removing fragrance from the blood over time, and the fragrance will accumulate in the body more and more with each passing year, leading to increased risk of health complications.
For women who are pregnant and use fragrance in their skin care, the fragrance has been detected in their breastmilk. This means that the chemicals in the fragrance can also be passed on to the mother's child.
Further studies have found that because fragrance ends up in the bloodstream of users of cosmetics/skin care containing them, it eventually ends up in wastewater which leads to environmental pollution. Additional studies have found presence of fragrance contaminants present in drinking water samples.
Choose clean, choose fragrance-free
There is no need for fragrance in skin care, and the only reason why it is in there in the first place is because skin care companies know it is how they can sell their product to you. The problem with this marketing strategy is that your health is being exchanged for a sale. From endocrine disruption, to poisoned breastmilk, to cancer, fragrance does more than poison your skin, it poisons your body and the environment.
So next time you choose your health, choose fragrance-free.
OUMERE has always been and always will be fragrance-free.
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Den Hond, E., Paulussen, M., Geens, T., Bruckers, L., Baeyens, W., David, F., ... & Covaci, A. (2013). Biomarkers of human exposure to personal care products: Results from the Flemish Environment and Health Study (FLEHS 2007–2011). Science of the total environment, 463, 102-110.
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Zhang, Y., Huang, L., Zhao, Y., & Hu, T. (2017). Musk xylene induces malignant transformation of human liver cell line L02 via repressing the TGF-β signaling pathway. Chemosphere, 168, 1506-1514.