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Fragrance-Free vs Unscented: Not the Same Thing

By HERWriter
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Fragrance-free vs Unscented

While many people have huge collections of perfumes and scented body lotions, millions of people find this to be their worst nightmare. By Putting it on their skin they can develop a red, itchy rash, migraines, or other health issues. Some are even sensitive if someone else is wearing a strong perfume, walking into a store, or going to someone’s home.

Fragrances are added to products to make them more appealing, add soothing benefits, and cover up odors. A lot of people love a variety of scents. It makes them feel happy, unique, & sexy. Hello, multi-billion-dollar perfume industry!

Fragrances seem to be everywhere & can be difficult to avoid. It can be found in makeup, hair products, skincare products, laundry detergent, household products, baby products, even in health-care products such as first aid treatments & ointments.

If a product label says “Fragrance-Free” or “Unscented” most people assume they are the same thing. They buy the product, use it, and then develop an unpleasant reaction.

The Food & Drug Administration does not regulate cosmetics or their ingredients. Brands use buzzwords to draw customers in. They label their products, “Hypoallergenic”, “Fragrance-Free”, “Unscented”. Words like that pretty much have no meaning.

However, there are lots of brands that are honest and their products are truly free of this common allergen. Some amazing brands we love that are honest & most of their products are truly hypoallergenic are Cleure, VMV Hypoallergenics, Free & Clear Vanicream, & La Roche-Posay.

Since we all don’t have degrees in cosmetic chemistry or dermatology it is difficult to interpret product labels. An excellent source that does the work for you is SkinSAFE rates products by how free they are of the TOP COMMON ALLERGENS. Fragrance is one of them.

The top common allergens that are included in the ratings come from the Mayo Clinic research around allergen reaction rates from thousands of skin allergy sufferers in ongoing studies. The list is periodically updated to reflect the latest results.

SkinSAFE's fragrance-free badge excludes all allergy-causing botanicals & fragrance. Fragrance-free also excludes essential oils. A misconception is that products with essential oils don’t contain fragrance because they are “natural”, however, those are still considered fragrance and can cause a reaction.

So what is the difference between fragrance-free & unscented? (Not to be confused or used interchangeably)

This means there is NO fragrance or masking agent was added to the product. No chemicals have been added for specific reasons to give the product a scent.

There are thousands of chemical combinations used in the beauty industry. With chemicals it is easy to manipulate a product to smell like a particular flower even if that flower has not been added to the product.

Fragrance-free steers clear of this method.


There is no OBVIOUS scent. A masking agent was used to hide the scent of the product. For example, this product may essential oils but is covered up by a masking agent so it doesn’t smell like there is anything in it. If someone is allergic to a specific essential oil that is covered up, they could develop a rash.

Some people trust the front label as “unscented” and don’t look any further into the ingredients. Stop the itch before it happens and be skeptical of product packaging that claims unscented or uses any other buzz words to make their product more marketable.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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