Is Your Skincare Product’s “Natural Fragrance” Really Natural?

by | Updated: December 3rd, 2016 | Read time: 3 minutes

Q. When you see “natural fragrance” on a skincare product label, what is it? Where do natural fragrances come from?

Licensed esthetician Catie Wiggy of MyChelle Dermaceuticals responds:

Natural Fragrances in Skincare Products

A. If you’re confused by the labeling of scents and fragrances in skincare products, let me assure you, you’re not alone. There’s perfume, fragrance, natural fragrance, fragrance free, unscented and many other names for what we do and do not smell in products. Many things that you probably use every day contain fragrances, and guess what? They may contain synthetic and toxic chemical scents that you don’t even know about.

According to the FDA, if a cosmetic product is marketed on a retail basis to consumers (such as in stores, on the Internet, or person-to-person), it must include an ingredients list. In most cases, each ingredient must be displayed individually. But under U.S. regulations, fragrance and flavor ingredients can be listed simply as “fragrance” or “flavor.” Here’s why: the FDA requires the list of ingredients under the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act (FPLA). This law cannot force a company to reveal “trade secrets.” Fragrance and flavor formulas can be complex mixtures of many different natural and synthetic chemical ingredients, and they’re the kinds of cosmetic components that are most likely to be considered “trade secrets.”

This means companies can avoid telling consumers what’s in their “trade secret fragrances,” which often times include several, and up to even hundreds of, synthetic chemical mixtures like phthalates, petroleum  and neurotoxins. Yikes! When you see “natural fragrance” listed on a product, this means the ingredient is constructed with natural raw materials like isolates (chemicals that have been naturally isolated from a botanical), essential oils and resins.

“Fragrance free” specifies that a product doesn’t contain any added ingredients to change the smell of the product; but, keep in mind that fragrance-free items can still have a scent and are not considered odor free. “Unscented,” however, is a term that indicates a product is completely scent free and should contain absolutely zero scent, smell or odor. Choosing to use products labeled “natural fragrance,” “fragrance-free” or “unscented” can help reduce and even eliminate your regular exposure to unnecessary chemicals and toxins.

Since MyChelle’s founding in 2000, we’ve been obsessed with creating the most effective, non-toxic skincare products. Each formula is custom designed to deliver fast, powerful, visible results without nasty ingredients or toxic chemicals. All MyChelle products are gluten-free, cruelty-free and 100% vegetarian—and also free of artificial fragrances, dyes and chemical preservatives. So when using MyChelle, what you smell is the delicious natural aroma of the raw combined ingredients. Our experts scour the world for the most potent natural ingredients and put them to work in our skin-saving formulas that calm, love, nourish and treat your skin to its most beautiful.

Check out these unscented favorites from MyChelle:

Unscented Honeydew Cleanser – Gentle, scent-free formula leaves skin clean, soft and moisturized.

Unscented Supreme Polypeptide Cream – Unscented, nutrient-rich, peptide-infused cream lifts and tightens skin for a more refined, hydrated, youthful appearance.

Unscented Deep Repair Cream – Improve skin smoothness and prevent moisture loss with this rejuvenating rich cream.

Unscented Revitalizing Night Cream – This unscented nutrient-rich cream works overnight to restore skin’s youthful radiance, firmness and increase hydration levels.

Unscented Sun Shield SPF 28 – Unscented, environmentally- safe, full spectrum UVA/UVB sun defense that offers powerfully effective protection and is non-irritating near the eyes.