The No Thanks List: Fragrance


A-Daima Cosmetics is a natural skincare brand based on oils from Africa and the Amazon. As a clean beauty brand, we pride ourselves on formulating with the highest quality organic ingredients. We also pride ourselves on the list of common cosmetics ingredients we leave out of our products. We call this the "No Thanks" list. First up: fragrance⁠⠀


"But it smells so good"

If you don't tend to have sensitive or easily irritated skin (consider yourself lucky!), you may not understand why a bit of fragrance in a moisturizer or facial oil can be such a big deal. However, while fragrance may just be one word on an extensive ingredient list, it can be composed of tons of ingredients. Which ingredients, exactly? Great question. Lots of companies consider their fragrances proprietary, and are therefore not required to disclose what's in them. While skincare companies are protecting their trademarks, who's protecting your skin?

Fragrance is a big part of why there’s such a booming market for sensitive skin products. Those of us who suffer from conditions like psoriasis, eczema, or contact dermatitis (yup, I'm one of them) can have severe reactions when using scented products. And even for those who don't have skin conditions, contact with these chemicals can lead to asthma attacks, respiratory issues, and nausea, among other issues. 

Irritation and Hyperpigmentation

Fragrance is especially prevalent in products intended for people of color. When darker pigmented folks suffer irritation or allergic reactions to the chemicals in fragrance, it can lead to post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation - aka those dark spots that can take months, if not years, to fade. So while there is still a desire for products that provide provide that great sensory experience, the balance is tipping toward naturally-derived fragrance or entirely fragrance-free skincare products, especially among people of color.

What to Look Out For

So how can you find the right products for your needs? One thing to keep in mind is that even products labeled "for sensitive skin” may still contain fragrances that can be irritating. Look for products that say "fragrance-free" and then do a double check of the ingredients list. Fragrances are typically among the last ingredients listed, just before colorants (dyes and pigments) and may be listed as "fragrance" or "flavor". 

Using organic skin care products is a good place to start, as fewer chemicals can provide some peace of mind. However, many natural products are scented with essential oils like lavender. Natural fragrances can also be irritating, so patch testing before using any new product is of utmost importance.

At A-Daima, we believe in formulating with the most sensitive skin in mind. To that end, we avoid fragrance - both synthetic and natural - ensuring that each product's scent is derived exclusively from its natural oil blends. Ingredients like tamanu oil, featured prominently in our Serengeti Sunrise Facial Oil and our Safi Oil Cleanser have an inherently pleasant aroma and create an awesome sensory experience without the increased sensitization.