The Best Fragrance-Free Moisturizers
Fragrance and preservatives are the most common causes of skin allergy. In order to have an allergy you must:
- Have been exposed to that agent before.
- Have built an immune response and made IgE antibodies to that particular fragrance.
- The fragrance must be “seen” by cells such as Langerhans cells in your skin.
That means that not everyone is irritated by or allergic to fragrance, and not all fragrances cause allergy for everybody.
So do you need to use fragrance-free skincare? And if so, what is the best moisturizer that doesn’t contain any added fragrances? Find the answers to all your fragrance-related questions here.
“Fragrance-Free” vs. “Unscented”
Many people are surprised to learn that products labeled as “fragrance-free” or “unscented” often have added fragrance in them. While there is a technically difference between these two terms, some companies use them interchangeably or very loosely, confusing consumers.
According to the EPA’s Safer Choice fact sheet, “fragrance-free” means that no added fragrances or masking fragrances have been added to the product.
“Unscented,” on the other hand, can mean that the product itself has a neutral smell, but masking fragrances may have been added to negate a bad smell caused by other ingredients.
In order to have the Safer Choice seal and use these terms on the label, a product must comply with these definitions. However, many skincare products do not have this seal on them and may use the term “fragrance-free” to mean “unscented.”
What Is the Best Moisturizer Without Any Fragrance Added?
Zerafite Ultra Rich Body Cream has no added fragrance, yet has a light woodsy natural smell. This moisturizer is suitable for all 16 Baumann Skin Types, though it was specifically formulated for dry, rough skin. This cream also uses MLE technology, which is composed of a 1:1:1 ratio of ceramides, fatty acids, and cholesterol to strengthen the skin’s natural protective barrier.
Are All Moisturizers with Fragrance Irritating?
No. Not all fragrances cause allergy. You must be allergic to that fragrance to have a reaction to it. Both Zerafite Barrier Repair Moisturizer and Zerafite Soothing and Calming Moisturizer have a fragrance that has not been known to cause skin allergy.
The fragrance is listed last on the ingredient list for the Zerafite Barrier Repair cream, because it only contains a very small amount. Look for products that have fragrance as one of the last four ingredients, indicating that there are not a large quantities of these ingredients in the product.
How Do I Know What Fragrance I Am Allergic To?
This is difficult because most fragrances are in a mix. Also, the label says “fragrance” but does not say which kind of fragrance. Your dermatologists can do a patch text with different fragrance mixes if you develop contact dermatitis to fragrances to help you determine which specific fragrances you may be allergic to so that you can avoid them in the future.
Should I Avoid Products with Fragrances?
Only if you have a sensitivity to fragrance. Some people do not have sensitivities or allergies to fragrances and therefore can use skincare products that contain small amounts of these ingredients without a problem.
How Do I Protect My Skin from Fragrance Allergy?
Build up your skin barrier to protect your skin from allergens and irritants.
The skin barrier is made up of a 1:1:1 ratio of ceramides, fatty acids, and cholesterol. These lipids come together to form a bilayer membrane, with hydrophobic (water-repelling) tails at the center and hydrophilic (water-retaining) heads on both outer edges. The hydrophobic tails in the center prevent water from being able to cross through the bilayer, keeping moisture inside the skin rather than letting it evaporate into the atmosphere.
The second important function of the skin barrier is to prevent allergens, irritants, and pathogens from entering the skin. A healthy skin barrier does not allow these harmful particles to pass through into the skin. However, when the skin barrier is impaired – as is the case with dry and sensitive skin types – it cannot properly perform these two vital functions.
To restore proper barrier function, use a barrier repair moisturizer such as Zerafite, which uses multi-lamellar emulsion, or MLE, technology. MLE technology mimics the skin’s natural 1:1:1 ratio of ceramides, fatty acids, and cholesterol. Barrier repair moisturizers that use MLE technology will show a maltese cross pattern under a cross-polarized microscope. You can learn more about this and how the skin barrier functions in this blog.
Fragrances in skincare are not necessarily ingredients that you need to avoid. If you do not have a sensitivity or allergy to fragrances, then you do not need to look for fragrance-free products. However, if your skin does react negatively to certain fragrances, work with your dermatologist to determine which specific ingredients cause the reaction. You can also use a barrier repair moisturizer to strengthen your skin barrier to better protect against allergens and irritants like fragrances in skincare.
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