Should You Go Fragrance-Free with your Shampoo?

Why Do Hair Care Products Contain Fragrance?

Fragrance is a collective term that refers to a blend of different substances that gives a pleasant scent to cosmetic products. Fragrance ingredients can be naturally sourced such as essential oils or synthetic chemicals derived from petroleum.

Fragrances can be found in most of your hair care products. A large percentage of shampoos (96%), conditioners (98%), and hair styling products (97%), have perfume in their formulas.

The main reason for adding fragrances to hair shampoos is to give the product a nice smell that consumers will love. Fragrances also can be listed as “perfume” on your shampoo label. However, synthetic chemicals in a fragrance blend are not specified on the label.

Fragrances are also added to hair care products to mask the bad odors of certain substances used in the production process.

Beautiful woman holding fragrance-free shampoo

“Unscented” v’s “Fragrance-Free” Hair Shampoo

It is important to note that there is a difference between cosmetic products that are labeled “unscented” and those that are labeled “fragrance-free”. The term “unscented” means that only the aromatic fragrances intended to give lovely smells are excluded from the formula. “Unscented” products still may contain functional fragrances that are used to mask unwanted odors. The term “fragrance-free” implies that the product doesn’t contain any form of fragrance. Such a product is totally free of artificial and natural scents, including essential oils.

Health Risk from Exposure to Fragrances

Prolonged exposure to certain fragrances can lead to the worsening of some health problems, but a large percentage of people are unaware of the potential dangers they are facing by using their daily cosmetic products. Some of the conditions that have been linked to the synthetic chemicals in fragrances include hormone disruption, exacerbation of allergies, sinus attacks, asthma, and other respiratory conditions. 

Different Ways of Exposure to Fragrances in Hair Care Products

There are several ways for these fragrances to enter your body:

Skin exposure: Your skin is considered the primary way of exposure to fragrances. When problematic ingredients get absorbed into the skin, they may result in eczema, allergies, inflammation, or rashes. In addition to being harmful to the skin, some compounds can enter the bloodstream and the fatty tissues, where they then can affect the vital organs. It is important to note that residues of fragrances may remain on the hair and skin even after repeated washings.

Inhalation: Another way you can be exposed to fragrances is through inhalation. Fragrances are made of small molecular weight substances that quickly dissipate in the air. When inhaled, these compounds go into the lungs and can affect the brain and nervous system. This has an effect on hormone control and is a potential source of health hazards for people who have migraines, allergies, sinus problems, asthma, and lung diseases. Regardless of the route of entry, these chemicals can build up in the body.

Environmental Concerns

Fragrances are rather aggressive substances that have an effect on the quality of the indoor and outdoor air. The chemicals may get dispersed into the environment as a result of being washed into groundwater, and the waterways. They can be ingested by fishes and other aquatic life, contributing to contamination of the ecosystem.

How to Protect Yourself and Others?

The ideal approach is to opt for fragrance-free cosmetic products whenever possible. Hair shampoo is used frequently and in combination with other chemical-laden personal care products can pose a health risk. Therefore, it is advisable to use hair shampoos that are labeled “scent-free”, “fragrance-free” or “unscented”.

Fragrance-free personal care products can be purchased at any pharmacy, some supermarkets, and most online stores. Make sure to always look at the ingredients on the label, and when possible, also check the product for smells with your nose. This is a good way to ensure that there is no scent regardless of what is written on the package.

By opting for cosmetic products that are fragrance-free, you are doing good for your body. In addition, you will be contributing your quota towards creating an environment that is safe and healthy. 

a woman shopping for fragrance-free shampoo

Fragrance-Free Shampoo Brands

The following is a list of hair shampoos that don’t include synthetic fragrances and other harmful chemicals in their formulation:

1. JASON Fragrance-Free Daily Shampooir?t=klikkutakcom 20&l=am2&o=1&a=B003AYEUUE

Since 1959 the JĀSÖN company has been creating personal care products with natural ingredients that are safe for their users and the planet. Their products have become a healthy and environmentally friendly alternative to chemical-laden cosmetic products.

JASON Fragrance-Free Daily Shampoo will benefit any type of hair, but it is particularly suitable for people with sensitive scalps.

2. Fragrance-Free Shampoo Conditioner Bundle by Desert Essenceir?t=klikkutakcom 20&l=am2&o=1&a=B00W33MQPE 

Desert Essence uses natural and organic ingredients to create high-quality products that deliver a healthy and effective beauty experience.

Fragrance-Free Shampoo and Conditioner Bundle is a gentle yet effective unscented duo. Like other products from this company, it doesn’t contain artificial fragrances, colors, parabens, phthalates, sodium lauryl/laureth sulfates, silicones, EDTA, phosphates, glycol, or petroleum-based ingredients.

3. Pharmaceutical Specialties Free & Clear Hair Shampoo for Sensitive Skinir?t=klikkutakcom 20&l=am2&o=1&a=B0006FMK98

Pharmaceutical Specialties Free and Clear Shampoo is a mild shampoo for sensitive scalp formulated without fragrances or any other harsh chemicals that can be found in drugstore hair shampoos. 

4. Ava Anderson Non-Toxic Shampoo

This shampoo isn’t scent-free, but it is worth mentioning because it is formulated only with natural pure, and non-toxic ingredients. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG) rating, totally free of harmful chemicals. The light citrus scent comes from essential oils. The company is committed to creating natural and safe personal care products.

What is Hidden under the Label?

Fragrances are not closely monitored for their safety, and there are very few government regulations guiding their use. Ensuring their safety before advertising is not required. The manufacturers are not required to reveal the particular fragrance used to give their products the “signature smell”, simply because this is considered a “trade secret”. Over 3,000 chemicals used under the term “fragrance” are not revealed to the public and are generally indicated on the label as “fragrance” or “perfume”. Quite a number of these scents have been found to use phthalates in order to make the smell last longer. Phthalates are compounds that are known for their endocrine-disrupting effects, but consumers have no idea that these compounds are included in their cosmetics. Due to undisclosed fragrance ingredient information, phthalates in fragrance formulation are not required to be labeled either.

a girl with healthy hair washed with fragrance-free shampoo

Disclaimer: All content on this blog is created for informational purposes only. You shouldn’t use it as a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

Last Updated on April 16, 2022 by Gaga

About the author | Website | + posts

Gaga is a blogger and founder of the Softer Hair website. She often says that insomnia is to blame for her first blogging attempts. Being the night owl, she hated the morning alarm. She left her office job and returned to what she loved most - writing. Her pets are her coworkers, and she replaced the town crowd with a quiet neighborhood outside the city.


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