Scent offers a powerful sensory experience, which explains why perfume is so popular, in particular for women. Maybe one of the best places to learn about, and shop for scented products is a small, local women owned business. There are even great scents and perfumes for different ethnicities, including Black, Asian, or Latina women. Find small business to support and to learn about fragrances below.
When something smells good, it can trigger memories, thoughts, and feelings that are happy or sound, depending upon what association it sets off in your brain. Scent can even have a powerful effect on an individual’s mood and physical well-being, both positive and negative.
But for products, you put on your skin, fragrance can cause skin irritation for some people or trigger allergic reactions, in particular for those of different races or ethnicities as certain products may use different chemicals. Even people who don’t have a skin allergy can develop skin irritation from unscented skincare products and even fragrance-free ones. That’s why it’s important to research the skincare products you place on your skin. A women or minority owned wellness, perfume, or skincare business are all great places to shop at and to get shopping tips. You can even ask a makeup artist that runs their own small business for advice.
What is the Difference Between Unscented and Fragrance-Free Skincare?
First, fragrance-free and unscented are not the same thing. Unscented means a product doesn’t have an aroma when you inhale it but it doesn’t mean it’s free of fragrance. Such products may contain chemicals that mask the scent, so they aren’t fragrance-free at all. Many people assume when they buy an unscented skincare product from a women or minority owned business, they’re purchasing something that’s unlikely to cause an allergy, but that’s not always the case.
So much for unscented, but what is fragrance-free? It means there are no synthetic fragrances in a product and no masking scents such as those in unscented skin products. Fragrance-free products can still contain essential oils, giving them a slight scent, but they’re free of synthetic fragrances. Some people have skin reactions or respiratory reactions to essential oils, so even fragrance-free isn’t a guarantee that you won’t get skin irritation or a reaction.
If you have sensitive skin, fragrance-free is a better choice, but proceed with caution. It’s not mandatory that small businesses or companies reveal added fragrances, which makes it harder to know what’s in a product. Therefore, read the ingredient list and see if it mentions, colorings, fragrances, perfumes, or other references to chemicals or fragrances. It makes it harder and more time-consuming to shop for perfume or skincare products, but it’s worth the extra effort, especially for people with sensitive skin.
Also, know that fragrances may contain many chemicals, some of which are proprietary blends, and manufacturers don’t have to list each one, as their competitors would then know their proprietary ingredients. Ask the women or minority business owner for tips and information – this is but one reason shopping at a small business is great as you can get access to information and face to face contact…or better customer service. So, when a manufacturer lists the word fragrance, you don’t know the exact make-up, how many chemicals are in there, or their quantities. Still, fragrance-free is better than dealing with a product that contains fragrance on the label if you have sensitive skin. Still, it’s not a guarantee you won’t have a reaction.
Fortunately, there’s a little more transparency now. If you’re serious about avoiding fragrances, look for the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) fragrance-free certification when shopping at a woman owned company. This certification states that a product contains no fragrance or chemicals or masking scents. Look for the blue and green “fragrance-free” label developed by the EPA. There are even businesses that import ingredients from across the world, such as Hi Wildflower.
There are many small to mid sized companies, all that are owned by minorities or women, we have listed that you can shop at, both online or in person. Look here for a directory of women and minority owned skincare businesses. As a small business will often give better customer service.
What about Hypoallergenic?
If you have skin allergies or sensitive skin, you might look for products from a women or minority owned skincare business that are hypoallergenic. This simply means that a skincare product is less likely to cause an allergic reaction than a product that isn’t hypoallergenic. However, it doesn’t mean you can’t have an allergic reaction if you use it. There are so many allergies and sensitivities that it’s almost impossible to make a product that’s guaranteed not to cause a reaction. Hypoallergenic products can still contain undesirable chemicals too, like parabens and phthalates.
The Bottom Line on Skincare Products and Businesses
Do your research before buying skincare products from a women, LGBTQ or minority owned business. Ask the owner or their team for help shopping. Do even more research if you have sensitive skin or a history of allergies. Although it’s no guarantee, your best bet might be to choose products with the EPA’s fragrance-free label and products labeled hypoallergenic. Being hypoallergenic isn’t a guarantee that you won’t react but it makes it less likely. If you have a recurrent problem with skin reactions and allergies, see a dermatologist. They may recommend allergy skin testing to identify what you’re allergic to so you can avoid it.
By Jon McNamara