When we shop for skincare or body care, the first thing we do is open the bottle or tub and sniff it. If we find it appealing we buy it but rarely do we check the ingredients list. However, this is where most brands take advantage. 

Desiree Stordahl, Senior Research and Education Manager at Paula's Choice Skincare, told HerZindagi: "The way most fragrance ingredients impart their scent is through a volatile reaction on the skin which causes an inflammatory response. The tricky thing is that you don’t always immediately see the outward effects of the inflammatory destruction because it’s brewing under the skin’s surface. However, that cumulative damage adds up resulting in an impaired barrier, collagen breakdown, redness, increased sensitivity, and skin is more vulnerable to signs of ageing in general."  

"So, why do so many beauty products contain fragrance? Because that’s what sells. Companies understand the power of a pleasingly fragranced product, and how that impacts a consumer’s buying decisions. Essential oils or natural fragrant ingredients are no exceptions either. They cause the same damaging effects as synthetic fragrance ingredients. In some cases, you can clearly see fragrant ingredients called out as “fragrance” or “parfum/perfume/aroma” on an ingredient list. In other cases, you have to do some detective work," she added. 

Ingredients That May Cause Irritation

Here are some common examples of irritating fragrance ingredients that often show up in skincare products:

  • Bergamot oil
  • Cinnamon


  • Citronellol
  • Eucalyptus
  • Eugenol
  • Geraniol
  • Lavender oil
  • Limonene
  • Linalool



  • Peppermint
  • Ylang-ylang oil

Which Ingredients Are Fine?

Elaborating further on which ingredients will be kinder to your skin, Stordahl shared "There are a few exceptions! Certain natural ingredients have an inherently pleasant aroma but cause no irritation. Examples include cocoa butter, coconut, cucumber, mango, melon, sweet almond, and vanilla. All of these are A-OK for the skin."

All skin types should avoid irritating fragrance ingredients in their products. Even if your skin doesn't initially show outward signs of being agitated by fragranced skincare products, there’s still reason to be concerned as our skin is very good at hiding when it’s being inflamed in the lower levels. Of course, if you have sensitive skin to begin with or skin that tends to be more reactive, you have to be extra careful about seeking out fragrance-free products. 

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Other Signs That You May Be Allergic To The Fragrance

  • Headaches
  • Rashes, irritation, and itching
  • Sneezing or a runny nose
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Dizziness and fatigue
  • Muscle aches.
  • Itchy, watery, and red eyes

Stay tuned to HerZindagi and get expert tips to take better care of your skin. Read the ingredients list very carefully before you invest in products as they can cause damage you may have to pay heavily for.