Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Fragrance: Is it really the devil?

I'm not so into the smell of my unscented rosehip oil. It's pretty mild, but I figured it would make a more pleasant bedtime ritual if I could mix it with something that smells better. So I popped over to Paula Begoun's site to look at her list of skincare ingredients to try to find something that smells nice and won't damage my skin.

According to Paula, nothing. All of the scented oils etc. are damaging. Here's what she says: "Fragrances, whatever their form, added to personal-care products, impart their scent via volatile compounds. When applied to skin, they react, causing irritation that may or may not be visible on the skin's surface. [...] You may not see the reaction on the surface of your skin from the fragrance in skin-care products, but that doesn't mean the damage isn't silently occurring." [Ed.: Does skin irritation ever make a noise?]

So basically, fuck everything. Is it really so bad as all that? If I put anything on my skin that smells okay, am I going to regret it someday?

The Beauty Brains have a slightly different take: "While many people are allergic to fragrance ingredients and would do well to avoid products with fragrances in them, there is no reason that everyone should avoid fragranced products. Fragrances make the product experience more enjoyable and if they don’t bother your skin, feel free to keep using them."

They also comment that it seems "strangely coincidental" that Paula Begoun sells only fragrance-free products in her skincare line and has such harsh advice about fragrance. I think a more charitable interpretation would be that she doesn't include fragrance in her products because she feels so strongly about it. But I can't read her mind.

Anyway, this is one of these points where you're pretty much going to have to weight the risks you are willing to take and decide for yourself. If you have sensitive skin or allergies, you might want to avoid all fragrances just in case. If you don't, and you take other precautions, such as not smoking and wearing sunscreen regularly, then maybe rubbing some nice-smelling shit on your face isn't going to turn you into an unsightly hag. 

As for me, fragrance isn't something I'm going to go out of my way to avoid, unless it's overly perfumey. And that's mainly just because I don't like a lot of scents and have a sensitive nose. Like baby powder, and whatever Philosophy's Hope in a Jar is supposed to smell like. Barf. Personally, I think if an attractive scent is going to make you more likely to use something that's good for your skin on a regular basis, that probably outweighs the (miniscule) potential for "silent" irritation and damage. I'll stick with my stinky $10 rosehip oil for now. It's not so bad, really.

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