My Fragrance Free Skincare Picks

Over the last couple of months, I've been on a drive to make my skincare routine as free as fragrance as possible. Fragrance in skincare - both added and natural byproducts of other ingredients - is an irritant to skin. 

You may not have an issue with it now, but you can develop an allergy to it at any time. Fragrance is also a sensitising ingredient, meaning that it can make you sensitive to other ingredients that your skin can usually tolerate. Dermatologist Dr Dray has a lot to say on the matter, I highly suggest you check out her Youtube channel. Plus, the parfum added in skincare is literally the same as in your Chanel No.5, your Lady Million and the like - would you put that on your face? I didn't think so. 

Worse still: fragrance is actually rampant in products supposedly designed for our faces. Brands will load a product with added fragrance to make it more appealing to consumers; I won't believe you if you try and tell me you've never heard anyone talk about how nice their moisturiser smells - I know I've been guilty of it previously. Even if a brand doesn't add fragrance to their skincare products, the formulas are filled with all the usual suspects in terms of natural fragrance: limonene, linalool, citronellol etc. Despite the gentle connotations that surround natural ingredients, unfortunately these are just as problematic as added parfum. Brands will also try to mislead you by labelling their products with 'no added fragrance' or 'scent free', by which they mean they don't add fragrance - but it still has these natural fragrances. 

Given this epiphany I've had, I've been overhauling my skincare and removing as much fragrance as possible. There's still some bits with fragrance here and there, but I am making a lot of effort to avoid fragrance in any new skincare products I'm buying. And, surprise surprise! They seem to be cheaper than fragrance laden skincare which is actually worse for your skin. It seems we're paying through the nose for a half assed serum just because it's scented like a department store perfume aisle... 
To clarify, obviously I am just an avid consumer and I don't have any official dermatological or manufacturing knowledge (although I do enjoy learning about it at some depth) so I may not have been able to identify all fragrance ingredients. They come under lots of different names on the ingredients lists, not just 'Parfum'! So just a disclaimer that whilst I've done my best to pick products with no fragrance - using the Skin Deep Cosmetics Database as a helpful 'ingredients dictionary' of sorts - I may not be 100% accurate. Without further ado, let's take a look at my fragrance free picks: 

Cleansing
If creamy formulas are your cup of tea, you'll probably enjoy this cleanser. It's lovely, with a soft feel and milky texture. It feels very moisturising thanks to the hyaluronic acid. I enjoy using this cleanser and would recommend it. 

This is a brand I discovered whilst in Germany over the Summer. The sheabutter range is formulated for sensitive skin...AKA fragrance free! I've been really enjoying this gentle cleanser, it has a gorgeous silky formula that feels really nice on the skin. I would highly recommend looking into this if your skin is very dry, shea butter is an excellent moisturising ingredient. 
Another creamy pick is this gem from Aveda. I've always known about (and loved) Aveda haircare, but honestly I was oblivious to this skincare! A lot of it seems to be filled with fragrance, but not this.  This is my preference to remove the last dregs of the days make up, and it doesn't leave my skin feeling dry and taut, just fresh and clean.

 At less than £4, this is a super little cleanser. The packaging is plain and unassuming; I wouldn't normally have picked this up, to be honest. But it's completely free of fragrance so I had to give this a go! What a pleasant surprise! The liquid looks deceptively soapy, but it's actually not. It's gentle, doesn't foam, cleans your skin with no fuss. I love it. 
An AM cleanser I've been loving recently is this Agera salicylic acid cleanser I picked up from Skinforia. It's particularly good for if you want to target blemishes, but I'd recommend it to anyone (I personally would suggest that anyone can benefit from a BHA, especially in a wash-off formula to limit the risk of irritation). This one is also deceptively soapy looking, but in use it's very gentle and lathers minimally, so doesn't feel harsh or skin stripping. I really like it! And do feel like it's improved the appearance of my skin, with less noticeable pores in my T zone, less breakouts and smoother texture. 

Serums & Treatments
I've been reaching for this in my daytime skincare routine. This lightweight, translucent serum is a nice hydrator thanks to containing glycerin. It also has probiotics, as well as small amounts of lactic acid and salicylic acid. Supposedly the probiotics repair skin from UV and pollution damage - but obviously it's hard for me to evaluate the effectiveness on that front based just on looking at my skin. I do enjoy using it though, and my skin has been in good condition lately - looking bright, with an even skin tone, and feeling soft and hydrated. 

The 'Night Switch' serums from Lixir Skin are excellent fragrance free picks. I've reviewed them here if you want to take a look. 

As a night time treatment to tackle breakouts and pigmentation, I've been loving this 2% salicylic acid treatment. It's in a toner form, but has quite an oily feel to it. It dries down quite fast though so you don't have any greasy, sticky residue on your skin before bed! This is an excellent product to treat an active spot, it's great at 'unclogging' the pore over night so alleviates the inflammation and really takes down the appearance of a blemish. But like I said, even if you aren't concerned with breakouts, I think you can still benefit from using a BHA like this one.  

What about an overnight AHA treatment? I have been a fan of Liquid Gold - 5% glycolic acid - for a long time. It's brilliant for ensuring you have clear, bright, smooth skin. I tend to use BHA one night, then no acid, then AHA; no acid/BHA/no acid/AHA etc. I find this is very effective to maintain clear and healthy looking skin. 

Moisturisers & Oils 


This is my favourite moisturiser at the moment. It's simple, soft, hydrating and obviously free of fragrance. However its is a bit oily and I do notice some visible excess oil on my face towards the end of the day, which I don't typically see. I generally have dry skin though, so not mad about a little shine. 

For something a little lighter, I opt for the Sheabutter Lotion from the brand I discovered in Germany. It's lovely. If I'm especially dry I'll apply it onto my wet face immediately after rinsing off my cleanser to lock in the moisture (I'll let it dry before adding eye cream, moisturiser etc). I'll definitely be reaching for this more often as we come into winter to save my dry skin.  

I love an oil underneath a face cream to soften my skin and lock in moisture. I've been enjoying this facial oil from American brand Drunk Elephant. It's pure Marula so is free of fragrance. The fatty acid and antioxidant rich formula is supposed to help with wrinkles and discolouration. I have found that my skin looks plump and healthy with just a drop or two massaged in on top of my serum. I'd definitely recommend this.



Bybi Boosters 
Pure oils are the way to go to avoid fragrance, rather than (expensive) formulas layered with different ingredients. I've been enjoying Bybi boosters; I looked up the ingredients on the cosmetics database and they do all have legitimate skincare functions and aren't just fragrance. For example, the blueberry oil is a skin conditioner. These oil-serums are a nice way to tailor your skincare to specific needs. You know what the active ingredient is - because it is the only ingredient - and you know what it is supposed to do for your face. It's really difficult to go wrong with these.

Since working on eliminating fragrance from my skincare routine, my skin has been so much calmer.  It's less reactive and clearer, as well as my skin tone being brighter and more even. I've always been bothered by my skin tone being patchy: red in some places, dull in others, even a bit yellow. But it's just clear of late. The texture on and around my nose and across my cheeks was always rough with visible pores, but it seems to have smoothed over completely...dare I say it looks pulled taut!

I will continue to try to filter fragrance out of my skincare routine because my skin has been so much better for it. I definitely recommend trying a couple of weeks without fragrance. Even if, as an experiment, you temporarily replace your expensive and lengthy skincare routine with the Simple Moisturising Facial Wash and the cheap CeraVe moisturiser, I bet you that you'll see a difference. I promise you that you'll see a difference. Because fragrance doesn't belong on your face and it isn't good for your skin, but it's hard to realise that when 99% of products are filled with it and we don't even realise!

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1 comment

  1. The brand Simple has definitely been on my wishlist of products to try


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