One thing I tend to avoid when I make beauty purchases is the ingredient: parfume/perfume, or fragrance. Why? Because it can mean practically anything. It is kind of a catch all term for anything that masks an odor or emits a fragrance. This means that it can be something as innocuous as a blend of essential oil constituents to a blend of chemicals. EWG gives it a score of 8, due to it being potentially a combination of toxic chemicals, and lists it as a respiratory irritant. As I can attest it can also cause contact dermatitis as well.
So, when a natural company says “fragrance” should you presume it to mean essential oil components or some chemicals developed in a laboratory to tickle your olfactory senses? Well you can always ask, but then you are “trusting” whatever the company tells you, and that can be a mixed bag, because the proof is in the pudding. Let me explain.
There were some products I really wanted to try and the only ingredient I genuinely had an issue with was that they included fragrance. So I decided to contact each company and ask them the nature of their ingredient. This led to me buying a shampoo and conditioner from Deep Steep, after they told me it was a proprietary blend of essential oils. Before I even got it out of the package I developed a headache after nearly being knocked over by the very un-natural smell. So I returned it.
Another item that I had issue with is the NUDE Cleansing Oil. They also told me it was from a blend of proprietary essential oils. When I opened the bottle, there was an odor and it didn’t smell “natural”, but it also wasn’t unpleasant, overpowering, or headache inducing so I decided to keep it.
Within 6 days of use, I developed an itchy dry skin rash all over my face up to my hair line and jaw. I discontinued use right away and back to the store it went. It took my skin a week to recover. I know it was the fragrance because the ingredient list was very short (unlike the one from Deep Steep), and it was the only one I could imagine giving me a problem.
So, for everyone I have had a problem with, there have been products that I have used that say fragrance, and the company has assured me that it is natural and I have had no problems with. I think that the best option in this situation is to do your due diligence and contact the company, but also to look at the company at a whole. Do they seem to be transparent? Are they trying to appear natural because it is trendy or are they really committed to providing their customers with non-toxic products?