What is Fragrance in Cosmetic Products? Any Concerns?

Intended to be applied on a person’s skin, cosmetic products contain several ingredients that makes your skin smooth and moisturized. When combined, most of these cosmetic ingredients will produce an unpleasant smell as these are a concoction of various chemicals. In order to mask the undesired scent, fragrances are usually added which also enhances the benefits of cosmetic products making you more attractive.

Why Fragrance?

Aside from the direct benefits of using cosmetic products, fragrances indirectly satisfy some of our emotional needs. It can create good mood while giving you a feeling of cleanliness, freshness and softness. It can also alleviate stress while uplifting your general well-being while some consumers believe it can trigger an attraction to your partner. These are the reasons why scented cosmetic goods are preferred by consumers compared to the unscented versions. With this, fragrance has become synonymous with cosmetic products.

Government Definition

Defined by the US Food and Drug Administration, fragrance is characterized as a mixture of chemicals which produces a distinct scent. This concept and definition answers our thought on the long list of fragrances available in the market. This also leads to the uniqueness of every cosmetic product having its own distinct smell where each scent is derived from proprietary blends or trade secrets.


Though government regulations on cosmetic products require that all ingredients should be listed in the packaging as part of product labeling, it is not mandatory for cosmetic companies to reveal how they come up with their trade secret. But in most instances, the ingredients being listed in the product are precisely mixed undergoing a chemical reaction. This creates a compound that will become their asset of developing a scented cosmetic product.

How is Fragrance Created?

Fragrance can be sourced out naturally or chemically synthesized. Natural fragrances are a blend of natural oils and aromatic compounds where the citrus scent is the most popular. On the other hand, Phthalates are widely used as chemical base ingredients in scented cosmetic products.

Back in the past, these are converted to dibutyl-phthalate ˂DBP˃ and dimethyl-phthalate ˂DMP˃ acting as plasticizers and anti-stiffness agents in cosmetic products. However, these cosmetic ingredients are no longer being used today. The more flavored-fragrance and fixative solvent called diethylphthalate ˂DEP˃ is commonly used as the new base compound in most popular cosmetic products.

Health Concerns

Besides the benefits of using scented cosmetic products,  it is important to know that there is some health concerns related to cosmetic use . Although not yet proven as an effect to human use, phthalates showed that it may cause a broad range of birth defects and reproductive problems in animals during laboratory trials. What is eminent to us humans is that some of us may be allergic to fragrance and sensitive to some cosmetic ingredients. This allergic reaction is called allergic contact dermatitis (different form of eczema) where symptoms include redness, swelling and itching of your skin.

Sensitive Skin and Eczema

For those of us with sensitive skin, we are prone to this type of allergic reaction to a particular substance found in scented cosmetic products. I tend to avoid products with Fragrance as an ingredient because it really bothers my Eczema.

Generally it is important to read the label first before using it. Keep in mind that some cosmetics that are labeled as “unscented” still have minimal amounts of fragrance but without giving the product that distinct smell.

I grew up with a mild to severe case of Eczema. I'm all about skin care tips, good eating, skin cream reviews, and healthy & positive living!