What is Clean Fragrance?
By Pia Velasco
What comes to your mind when you think of the word “fragrance”?
Likely, images and memories of your favorite perfumes come to mind. This is to be expected as most of the time people talk about fragrance they’re referencing perfume, but fragrance is present in a wide variety of products. We’re talking creams, exfoliants, cleansers, etc.
What’s more, the term “fragrance” is often listed as an ingredient itself rather than breaking down everything that goes inside it. We know, for example, that alcohol and essential oils are typically used, but they’re rarely listed separately on an ingredient list.
In fact, more than dozens of ingredients can go into one fragrance fixture, but companies aren’t legally obligated to disclose what goes in them thanks to the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act (FPLA) which was designed to help brands safeguard their trade secrets. However, it also gives companies a get-out-of-jail-card that allows them to withhold what ingredients they put in their formulas.
“In addition to the lack of transparency, traditional fragrance formulations tend to contain high amounts of allergens, fixatives like phthalates that are endocrine disruptors, and other ingredients like lilial, aldehydes that are known to cause health issues,” says clean cosmetic chemist and Credo clean beauty council member, Krupa Koestline.
It’s in response to this that the clean beauty and clean fragrance movement is having such a big moment right now. In fact, a recent study showed that over 68% of consumers are looking for beauty products described as clean.
This uptick in interest surrounding clean fragrances is something that Nopalera’s founder, Sandra Velasquez, has taken note of and is catering to—all Nopalera follow the Credo Clean Standard. Whereas the US government only bans 30 ingredients, Credo bans 2,700, which is why Velasquez adheres to their standards. “The word ‘clean’ gets thrown around a lot, and while US laws are getting stricter it’s still the Wild West out here,” she says, noting that the future will be a much more transparent one. “We want to be future-forward.”
Below, we outline everything you need to know to make the most informed decisions when shopping and so you feel confident and safe every time you use Nopalera..
What is Clean Fragrance?
As of today, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has not provided a regulated definition for the term “clean” which means that any brand can define it as they see fit. This is why Nopalera adheres to the strictest and most thorough standard in the US market. So, before we get into what a clean fragrance is, let’s explain what a clean fragrance is not.
Clean fragrance does not use phthalate esters (there are five traditionally used in fragrance: DMP, DEP, DBP, BBP, and DEHP), aldehydes, mineral oil, formaldehyde-releasing agents, etc. The most common red flag ingredient found in fragrance is diethyl phthalate (DEP)—a 2018 government study found that exposure to DEP affects the male reproductive system, male infant development, and how hormones act in the body, yet many brands still use it as a fixative to make scents last longer.
So, unlike traditional fragrance formulas that include some of those sketchy ingredients, clean fragrance is completely free of them. While each formula differs, they’re often also categorized as organic, natural, naturally-derived, synthetic, and/or sustainable. Apart from being environmentally conscious, a big reason clean fragrance is so important is for all the health benefits.
And when effective, clean alternatives are readily available, picking a clean fragrance is a no-brainer. In the case of phthalates, for example, Koestline says they can be replaced by clean ingredients such as dipropylene glycol and isopropyl myristate.
Long gone are the days when people had to sacrifice quality for safety.
Why Is Clean Fragrance Important?
People often say that toxicity is in the dose, but when “fragrance” is used as a blanket term, companies don't disclose how much of certain ingredients are in their formulas, it’s impossible for people to make informed decisions about what they use. Considering how often we use skincare, the bioaccumulation of sketchy ingredients on our skin can grow and grow over time. Koestline says that phthalates and aldehydes are associated with organ toxicity, endocrine disruption, allergies, and contact dermatitis. This means that in the most extreme cases, continued use of traditional fragrances could interfere with reproduction, disrupt fetal development, cause skin irritation, and even disrupt the nervous system.
On the other hand, we understand the amount of fear mongering that exists in the beauty industry. While using a traditional fragrance may lead to certain side effects, it doesn’t always. But with that said, if the possibility exists, why risk it?
What’s the Best Way to Find Out if a Fragrance is Clean?
Since every brand is free to use the term “clean” as they see fit, the easiest way to figure out whether or not a fragrance formula is truly clean is by checking whether it falls under a retailer’s standards. We’ve mentioned Credo’s several times as it’s the most thorough, but other retailers such as The Detox Market, Sephora, and Ulta have their own set standards that make it easy to pick out the cleanest formulas from their selection.
Alternatively, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) has its own Skin Deep database which allows users to input the name of any product and check its ingredient list and overall EWG score.
However, if you’re out shopping and hopping in and out stores, the best indicator of a clean formula is ingredient transparency. Brands that put in the effort to adhere to clean formulas also want their customers to feel safe when shopping for their products, so they’re more likely to be open with what goes into them.
Where Does Nopalera List Fragrance Ingredients?
Every Nopalera product proudly shares its complete ingredient list and has been vetted by Credo.
To discover what goes into each product, first open its full product page, scroll down to where it reads “key ingredients.” There, click on the “see all ingredients” button for a complete list of ingredients. Each fragrant ingredient will stand on its own, and you can learn more about each by clicking on it. Each pop-out will outline in detail what the ingredient is and its purpose.
At Nopalera, we want to encourage you to own a bolder body experience, and one of the best ways we can do that is by ensuring you’re using the safest ingredients.