Who doesn’t love their face to smell like a garden full of fresh flowers? The only catch is that garden-fresh scents often come from ingredients that more closely resemble poison oak than peonies in nature. Many people with sensitive skin have bad reactions to synthetic fragrances, and since their regulation in your skincare products is akin to the rules of the wild west, it can be incredibly hard to identify them.
Dermatologist Dathan Hamann, MD, medical director of Saguaro Dermatology and the Contact Dermatitis Institute, told Cosmopolitan that there is zero regulation as to what qualifies as a fragrance in skincare in the U.S. What's more, there’s not even a standard for fragrance-free. “If you label your cream 'fragrance-free,' you can basically put anything you want in it and you can't get sued, since there's no legal standard for it," he said.
If you suspect you have a sensitivity to synthetic fragrances or are looking to avoid them all together, look for skincare labels with ingredients you can read without a chemistry degree.
Or, look for natural smell-good ingredients like chamomile and aloe vera that can actually help improve skin’s texture, too.