Why should we Use Fragrance-Free Shampoo?

Girl preferring fragrance-free hair shampoo

A fragrance is a collective term that refers to a blend of different chemicals that are intended to give a pleasant odor to cosmetic items. The chemical substances in fragrances can be essential oils extracted from plants or man-made, synthesized compounds. A large proportion of scented chemicals used in producing cosmetic products are man-made, petroleum-based chemicals.

The main reason for adding fragrances to cosmetic products is to give them a nice smell which the consumer will love. They are listed as “fragrance” or “perfume” on the bottle label.

Fragrances can also be added to personal care products to mask the bad odors of certain substances used in the production process of some cosmetics. These different categories of fragrances are not always reflected on the label.

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

Labeling Issue

These chemicals are not usually closely monitored for their safety and there is also very little to no government regulations guiding their use. Ensuring their safety before advertising is not required, neither are the manufacturers compelled 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 label 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.

“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 fragrances. 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 worsening of some health conditions, but a large percentage of the population is unaware of the dangers that they face by using their daily cosmetic products. Some of the conditions that have been linked to the synthetic chemicals used in fragrances include neurotoxicity, infertility, birth defects, cancer, hormone disruption, exacerbation of allergies, sinus attacks, asthma, and other respiratory conditions. 

The Ways of Exposure to Fragrances in Hair Care Products

There are several ways for these fragrances to enter the body and have varying degrees of effect.

Dermal exposure is considered the primary route of exposure to fragrances. When problematic ingredients get absorbed into the skin, they may result in eczema, allergy development, inflammation, or rashes. In addition to being harmful to the skin, some of these compounds gain entrance into the bloodstream and the fatty tissues, where they then can affect the liver and the kidneys as well as other body organs. It is important to note that for heavy users, residues of fragrances remain on the hair and skin even after repeated washings.

Another way you can be exposed to fragrances is through inhalation. Fragrances are made of small molecular weight materials that dissipate quickly in the air. When inhaled, the fragrance compounds go into the lungs and 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 forms, contributing to contamination of the ecosystem.

How to Protect Yourself and Others?

The ideal approach is to opt for fragrance-free and less toxic cosmetic items 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 best that you use hair shampoos that are labeled “scent-free”, “fragrance-free” or “unscented”. It can be purchased at any pharmacy, supermarket, or an online store. Make sure to always look at the ingredients on the label of the products you are going to buy, and when possible, also check the product for smells with your nose. This is a good way to ensure that a product is unscented regardless of what is written on the package.

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

Fragrance-Free Shampoo Brands

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

1. JASON Fragrance-Free Daily Shampoo

Since 1959 the JĀSÖN team 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 who have a sensitive scalp.

2. Fragrance-Free Shampoo Conditioner Bundle by Desert Essence 

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 and like all their products 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 Skin 

Pharmaceutical Specialties Free and Clear Shampoo is another mild shampoo for sensitive skin and scalp formulated without fragrances or any harsh chemical irritants that can be found in ordinary shampoos. 

4. Ava Anderson Non-Toxic Shampoo

Ava Anderson Non-toxic is committed to creating safe products without any harmful chemicals. This shampoo isn’t scent-free, but it is worth mention because it is formulated only with natural pure and non-toxic ingredients. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG) rating, it doesn’t contain any harmful chemicals. Its light citrus scent comes from essential oils.

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