Allergen-Free Fragrance

What are Allergens?

In the EU, skincare manufacturers are legally obliged to list any of 26 allergens that are naturally or synthetically present in a perfume and part of the end product at a specific percentage.

For a wash-off product such as a shower ice cream if an allergen is present at a percentage of 0.01% or higher, it must be listed on the ingredients label, and for a leave-on product such as a body butter, this percentage stands at a very low percentage of 0.001% (or higher).

As you can see, the levels of allergens that must be listed are extremely low. I think this is a good thing because:

  • From a very personal perspective, these low percentages encourage me to look for fragrances that have fewer allergens associated with them as it means my ingredients label doesn’t become frighteningly long and my customers’ skin isn’t bombarded with a whole host of allergens.
  • For customers, these percentages are there to protect anyone with a sensitivity to allergens in perfumes.

What is an Allergen-Free Fragrance?

An allergen-free fragrance is a fragrance which, to the very best of the fragrance manufacturer’s knowledge, does not contain any of the 26 allergens that must be legally declared within the EU.

This means that the product should be suitable for people with sensitive skin and an allergen sensitivity. However it doesn’t mean that the product is suitable for people with a perfume-sensitivity – such customers may not be able to tolerate any fragrance in a product, even if it is allergen-free.

What About Essential Oils?

The majority of essential oils also have allergens. Just because essential oils are a natural ingredient does not mean that they do not contain allergens. I went through a list of approximately 100 essential oils and only 2 or 3 of them were allergen-free.

Natural Allergens versus Synthetic Allergens

Surely allergens that are derived naturally are ‘better’ than allergens that are synthetically-derived? This is not the case.

There are a number of allergens which can be either naturally-derived or synthetically-derived and your body cannot tell the difference if it is naturally- or synthetically-derived. An allergen is an allergen is an allergen. If you react to a specific one you will react to it whether it is naturally- or synthetically-derived.

I have noticed a number of skincare brands which highlight allergens that are naturally-derived, implying that they are better and making their product look as natural as possible. This is, quite simply, a marketing ploy to make you feel that product is better and more natural. I’m not a big supporter of this type of marketing as I would prefer to be transparent and honest – if there is an allergen in a product I shall list it according to the standards set by EU law. I will not highlight some allergens as naturally-derived because it gives a ‘better feeling’ about the product. Like I said above an allergen is an allergen is an allergen.

Changes in Legislation

In August 2017 two of the 26 allergens that must be legally declared on an ingredient label were removed after much scientific research. Fragrances containing either or both of these allergens will no longer be allowed to be used in skincare and cosmetics manufactured within the EU. However, the outright ban on these ingredients will take time so stockists of fragrances have time to sell their stock and skincare manufacturers have time to develop replacement fragrances.

I am relieved to say that neither of these allergens are present in any of the Simply Skin Scent Personalities.

To read more about allergens and the change in law, go my article here >