Why sensitive skin needs fragrance free moisturizing shampoo

By Dr. Eddie Valenzuela

Turns out things that smell good can be irritating to your skin. Many with sensitive skin are already aware of this fact, but it is in interesting to know that at the turn of the century, in 1999, there was a 3,000 person study done by the North American Contact Dermatitis Group to look at common allergens at the time. The study showed the number one allergen in North America was the metal nickel but number two was “fragrance mix.” Fragrance mix is a blend of 8 fragrances used to screen for fragrance allergy. Turns out 14% of this 3,000 person group were allergic to one or more of these fragrances [1].

Dr. Scheinman shared that study in an article made for dermatologists, 21 years ago, as an effort to convey that covert fragrances in skin and hair care products may be causing problems. Some “fragrance-free” products contain ingredients to mask scent and those masking ingredients can be problematic [1].

The problem of fragrance has not gone away in the past 20 years. Using a contact allergen database, a group of authors sought to find the most common allergens in 2018. They found 18 years later fragrance mix was still an offender! Surely you may be curious what else topped the list: nickel, balsam of Peru, methylchloroisothiazolinone/methylisothiazolinone (preservatives), and cobalt [2].

In a 2017 news release, Dr. Rajani Katta, board certified dermatologist did a great job of summarizing how manufacturers use the term “fragrance-free” on products that include fragrant ingredients. “Manufacturers are permitted to use the term “fragrance-free” on products that include fragrance chemicals if those chemicals are utilized for another purpose [for example to moisturize the skin] rather than changing the product’s scent.” She goes on to say, “the term “unscented” may be used on products that utilize fragrances to mask a strong existing odor instead of creating a new scent [3].’

The article, “How to Treat Eczema in Babies,” published by the American Academy of Dermatology clearly sums up the role of Fragrance Free products in baby’s with eczema. Board-certified dermatologist Anna Yasmine Kirkorian, MD, FAAD gave tips to manage symptoms and decrease flare ups. In the parts of the article dealing with fragrance, she says avoid irritants when bathing by using a fragrance free cleanser and immediately after the bath apply a fragrance free moisturizing cream—the thicker the cream the better. She also says, “Common triggers include bodily triggers, such as sweat, saliva and scratching; environmental triggers, such as tobacco smoke, dry air, pet dander, or pollen; or product triggers, such as clothing, laundry detergent, fabric softeners, shampoos or soaps (particularly ones containing fragrance) or baby powder or wipes [4].”

Fragrance Free shampoo for sensitive skin

At Happy Cappy we do not sneak any ingredients in to mask scent, and we do not include any fragrant ingredients under the guise of “moisturizing the skin.” Happy Cappy Medicated Shampoo & Body Wash was created to provide a seborrheic dermatitis shampoo for kids that avoids irritating ingredients like fragrances and sulfates, ingredients that are common within adult seborrheic dermatitis shampoos. Both of our shampoos and our soon to be released moisturizing cream comply with pediatric dermatologist recommendations for eczema by being fragrance free. If you or your child is suffering from sensitive skin issues like eczema than our daily body wash for eczema is the perfect bath item for your life.

References:

  1. Scheinman, P. The foul side of fragrance-free products: What every clinician should know about managing patients with fragrance allergy. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. December 1999Volume 41, Issue 6, Pages 1020–1024.
    DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/S0190-9622(99)70265-3
  2. Scheman, A, et al. Relative Prevalence of Contact Allergens in North America in 2018. 2020 Mar/Apr;31(2):112-121. doi: 10.1097/DER.0000000000000521.
  3. “Learn the language of skin care labels.” American Academy of Dermatology. March 3, 2017. https://www.aad.org/news/product-labels . Accessed 5 April 2020.
  4. “How to Treat Eczema in Babies.” American Academy of Dermatology. October 10, 2019. https://www.globenewswire.com/news-release/2019/10/10/1928283/0/en/How-to-Treat-Eczema-in-Babies-American-Academy-of-Dermatology.html . Accessed 5 April 2020.