Fragrance: The Smelly Ingredient I Avoid + Why

Today I’m talking all about Fragrance and why I avoid this sneaky ingredient in the products I use on my body and around our home. 

Round marble tray with a variety of Beautycounter skincare products.

I am a HUGE smell person – I love scents of all kinds! 

And that’s probably not a good thing.

It’s taken me very long time to let go of my love for scents after coming to terms with the idea that they could be doing more harm than good. 

Just like I am with real food, I think it’s smarter to err on the side of caution. 

What is Fragrance and why do I avoid it?

Since linking arms with Beautycounter, I’ve learned a lot about the lack of safety in the products I use on my body and in our home – something I honestly overlooked for years prior.

After learning how unregulated the beauty industry is as a whole, I’ve put my trust into Beautycounter for their transparency around using safe, thoroughly tested ingredients. Beautycounter’s Never List has over 1,800 potentially harmful ingredients that they exclude from all of their formulations. 

At Beautycounter, we believe in total transparency. We disclose all of the ingredients that we use. Even the ones that scent our products. One of the biggest ingredient offenders that I now know to look in personal care and home products for is “Fragrance.” 

So why wouldn’t all companies be transparent?

The Fragrance Loophole

Because it’s still industry standard to keep fragrance ingredients secret.

This is known as the “fragrance loophole.”

The loophole allows companies to keep their signature fragrances top secret from the public – they don’t have to disclose the ingredients that make up that fragrance.

If you look on your body lotion, shampoo, detergent, and see “fragrance” or “parfume” listed in the ingredients, there could be hundreds of ingredients hidden under that one little term. 

“…synthetic fragrances are often a blend of various chemical compounds, many of which are common allergens or have links to hormone disruption. And to make matters even worse, most manufacturers’ formulations are treated as trade secrets. If the manufacturers are left in the dark about which chemicals are used to make up their signature fragrances, so are you. The Fair Packaging and Labeling Act (FPLA) of 1967 requires companies to list a product’s ingredients, but cannot force them to disclose trade secrets. This dubious distinction allows companies to simply use “fragrance” or “parfum” as a placeholder for any combination of ingredients used in formulations. Recently, the International Fragrance Association (IFRA) published a list of nearly 3000 known ingredients that can go unreported to consumers because of this loophole.” – source

Fragrance & Health

The hidden ingredients within fragrances and parfumes are common allergens and some have been linked to hormone disruption. These are the products we are slathering on and breathing in all day long.

Have you ever gotten a headache after wearing a heavily scented lotion or sitting next to someone who was? You’re not alone. 

Whether or not you choose to use products with these ingredients is 100% your personal choice.

But shouldn’t everyone be entitled to transparency to make that choice? 

Transparency is at the heart of Beautycounter’s mission. The company not only believes in disclosing ingredients in its own product line, but they have full-time advocates who are lobbying on capital hill for transparency across the entire industry.

A win for the beauty industry would mean you could walk into any drugstore and read every ingredient clearly labeled (like you can with food!)

Hand holding open jar of Beautycounter's Countertime Supreme Cream.

Natural Doesn’t Have To Mean Unscented

 Committing to moving our family away from synthetic scents hasn’t been easy because I love the scent in everything from holiday candles to traditional laundry detergent. As I mentioned, I am a scent girl through and through (I crave the scent of my skincare routine every AM + PM)!

The good news is natural doesn’t have to mean unscented. There are natural scents that I can still use – I just need companies to be transparent about what’s inside their Fragrance ingredient list to know what they are.

I support companies that are transparent about their scents and ingredients and those who use essential oils and natural fragrances, like Beautycounter. And since I am not an ingredient scientist or expert, I look to the Environmental Working Group for help. 

The Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Database helps sort through the ingredients and evaluate the safety of your personal care products. I use the app all of the time! 

We’ve switched to Molly’s Suds laundry detergent and Branch Basics cleaning supplies. And Hello Bello for diapers and kids.

And Beautycounter for all things personal care head to toe!

Beautycounter's Good Scents Body Butter & Hand Cream Trios in red and pink gift boxes.

A few of my favorite safer scents!

I now know that you don’t have to sacrifice safety for a deliciously scented lotion, revitalizing body wash, or hydrating hand cream. Beautycounter proves that time and time again with their delicately scented skincare products and luxurious body products. 

Beautycounter's Ultimate Renewal Bath Set in red gift box.

Holiday Scents Are About To Be Everywhere

It’s the season for candles and all things pumpkin spice, but think twice before you buy those candles on sale.

Make sure to read the ingredient label carefully. If you see the words “fragrance” or “parfume” in that list, you might consider finding a safer option. Even if something says “fragrance free,” double check the ingredient list. Sometimes brands will add fragrances to give the product a neutral odor and then deem it “fragrance free.”

Small everyday changes add up

Before you think I am holier-than-thou, please know that the goal isn’t to walk through life and never smell another artificial scent again. But the more you can swap out the everyday products you use in your home and on your body, the better. 

Once you know better, you can do better (isn’t that what they say?)