Fragrances and their toxic ramifications in skincare

"Mmmm... What IS that delightful smell?’’

Have you ever truly wondered as to what ingredients are contained within your beloved ‘Chanel No.5’ or your absolute favourite ‘Priceline Perfume?’ No of course you haven’t. You’re too captivated by the delicious smell of peonies and rose petals to know the truth as to what’s going on! 

Fragrances generally often contain dozens or even hundreds of synthetic chemical compounds that are used to cover up the existing odours of other toxic chemicals within a product, and unfortunately, these toxins have the ability to cause major health conditions because of the form and function of each individual ingredient.

Did you know that ONE in every 50 people may suffer immune system damage from fragrances alone and become extremely sensitised? This information was recorded from the EU’s Scientific Committee on Cosmetic Products and Non Food Products. 

Fragrances are the number one skin sensitiser, hormonal distributor (for those who have acne I highly advise that you stop wearing perfume), and is even in the top five known allergens list to trigger and cause detrimental respiratory conditions such as, asthma attacks! Once sensitised to a particular ingredient, that person can remain so for a lifetime; enduring allergic reactions with every subsequent exposure... not something you’d want, right?

Don’t be fooled by cosmetics that are labeled as ‘Natural’ either because they still may contain preservatives, colouring agents and many other unpleasant substances that you can think of that sound very ‘unnatural.’ 

Even unscented products may contain masking fragrances that are solely used to cover up the odour of other existing toxic chemicals as stated previously. Ingredients listed on the packages of cosmetic products are many varied and as Corneotherapeutic Skin Therapists, it is our job to be made aware of this and to take action where we see fit. 

Corneotherapists recognise two important problematic factors when it comes to analysing ingredients:

  • Firstly, exactly what are these ingredients doing to the cells and systems of the human body as individual compounds? 
  • And secondly, what are these compounds doing when chemically joined together?

This truly does give me the greatest concern and one that needs to be taken more seriously in the beauty industry today.

So what can be done about this? Perfumes should be restricted to the skins surface and avoided in creams which can penetrate into the skin which can cause a wide range of skin conditions such as pigmentation, age spots and wrinkles. What you can be doing to better the health of your body is choosing products with no synthetic fragrances on the labels of cosmetics that do NOT contain the word, ‘fragrance’ or ‘perfume.’

Opting for more natural remedies such as essential oils or ‘certifiable’ organic/natural cosmetics is going to be the best option possible for the sake of your health.


I hope this mini article provided you with some insight and that perhaps you’ll think twice about buying fragrances products in the future. 

Written by Kai Atkinson, Corneotherapist @ SJM Skin Aesthetics

For more information please email:

Suzanne Smedley