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Fragrance, Natural or Not?

Fragrance by Picture Wendy at, cc

Fragrance gets a bad rap in the cosmetics world.

When we think fragrance, we think artificial, strong, toxic. But like organic cosmetics in general, not all fragrances are created equally.

First off, the terms fragrance and parfum can connote either synthetic or natural ingredients on a cosmetic product label. This means that a product made with all healthy ingredients, whose scent comes from pure essential oils, may still have “fragrance” in the ingredient listing rather than spelling out the actual healthy ingredients used to create the scent.

Why would a company choose to put “fragrance” on their label rather than listing the safe ingredients they use?

To protect their signature scent. That’s right, a trade secret loophole in ingredient disclosure protects a company from having their scent combinations swiped by competitors by not requiring them to list each fragrance ingredient used.

So how can you tell if a product contains safe fragrance ingredients or a chemical cocktail?

Most often a cosmetics maker of safe products will add “from essential oils” or something similar under their ingredient listing. If you can find nothing on the label, check the manufacturer website as to what their standards are on fragrance ingredients.

As with all cosmetic ingredients, you have to watch your own back. Pure essential oils, plant and flower extracts, and floral hydrosols are healthy fragrance ingredients. Read your labels.

[Image by PictureWendy at, cc]

Written by Liz Thompson

I am an organic beauty expert, writer, and mom of two young environmentalists who can already spot a toxic product when they see one. Read more about me at Organic Beauty, and find me on , Twitter, Pinterest, and Facebook.

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