Unscented Vs Fragrance Free

12 February 2014

Labelling can get a little complicated sometimes and sometimes you can think you know what something means, when really it can mean or imply something totally different.

This is so true for the labels of Unscented and Fragrance Free. Do they mean the same thing? Do they achieve the same thing? Well here's the low down on those trickster labels. 


Typically we tend to think it means that there is no scent or fragrance within a product -in other words it doesn't have a scent added or it doesn't have a particular scent to it. You think it won't smell of anything.

Unfortunately this is not correct! 

So what does it really mean? Well it actually means that despite not smelling of anything, there very well may be added scent and fragrance  (often synthetic) within your product! However what the 'clever' (dubious use of the word) people behind the formulations have done is simply add another scent, fragrance or a masking agent to hide the scent or fragrance that they have added! How crazy is that? Adding a scent and then adding a masking agent to block the scent of it? Of course in some cases it is done simply to mask the scent of an ingredient that is not primarily used for scent, i.e. if they use  lavender as an ingredient but don't want the natural presence of the lavender scent.

Bizarre no? That just means double the chemicals, double the potential allergens and irritants!


Blissfully this label actually means what it says it does (although it could be made even clearer). Simply the product IS free from added fragrances and scents (both natural and synthetic.) Yaay. Now notice I said 'Added' fragrance. The product may still have ingredients that do affect the scent/aroma/fragrance of a product (through their own natural aroma) but have not been added specifically this purpose. So still check the ingredients if you're not sure. So this product may have a scent (from ingredients in the formula), but not a deliberately added scent put there for fragrance purposes.


But why should we care about the difference if they both result in a non scented product? Well, because fragrance is a really dodgy area. Legally manufacturers do not have to you or put on the label what the formula of their fragrance is (trade secrets and all that) so that means you have no way of knowing if their fragrances are from natural souces such as essential oils or are synthetic. In either case natural or synthetic they could be potential allergens (did you know fragrances are one of the TOP 5 worst allergens?!) or irritants and may even contain Phthalates.


Hey you're not alone on this one. I am a fragrance/ scent nut! If you want fragrance make sure it is a natural form from essential oils etc. Often natural, organic and greener brands will label what their fragrance is in the ingredients and if they don't list the exact ones they will often asterisk it to indicate its from natural/organic origin. 


  1. Great post, this is something I always try and explain to people when they are looking for products for their sensitive skin, I have to watch out for fragrances (both synthetic & natural) because it can cause me irritation

  2. Thanks Sarah, I think its an important subject that most people just don't fully understand and like you said, when you have allergies and sensitivity the difference can be crucial! I know that I'm allergic to lavender so learning this for me was essential for both non natural and natural products and has made all the difference. I think 'fragrance' as a topic in its self is a big and very important one, but it can just get so complex.


Have your say!
I love reading all your comments and hearing your ideas and suggestions! Pop them down here and I look forward to reading them!

Stay healthy and happy! xx

Latest Instagrams

© Naturally Diddy - UK beauty, fashion & lifestyle blog. Design by FCD.