Fragrance has a long history, and written references of its origins date back to ancient cultures. There is an abundance of information about how fragrance was used and produced over the past several thousand years, its role in religious ceremonies, and ultimately its elevation to a form of artistic expression that continues to this day.
Throughout history, fragrance has always been a symbol of wealth and luxury (as well as a means to mask body odor), and haircare was no exception. In ancient Egypt, olive, almond, and sesame oils blended with fruit juices and fragrant essential oils were used for cleansing and conditioning the hair. In Indian culture, herb-infused hair preparations have been used for centuries. Then, in the early 20th century, fragranced haircare became available to masses in the form of liquid shampoo.
With time, fragrance became a main selling point as well as a differentiating factor for haircare products. Depending on your age, you may be able to conjure the scent of your shampoo as if you were 15 and singing in the shower once again. In recent years, several luxury brands have parlayed their haircare scents into wildly successful fragrance extensions for the body and home.
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly when the demand for fragrance-free haircare began, but we can look at several factors that are likely to have played a role. The “clean” movement was certainly one of them, as consumers began to seek more transparency about the ingredients in their personal-care products. Among the revelations was that any “fragrance” listed on an ingredient label is considered a proprietary formula, which allows companies to avoid disclosing the specific ingredients their scents are actually comprised of. These fragrances can potentially contain allergenic or irritating ingredients that consumers don’t know about.
Another contributor to the rise in demand for fragrance-free haircare can possibly be linked to an increase in the incidence of skin conditions like eczema, as well as contact dermatitis associated with personal-care products. Case in point, the number of positive patch tests doubled between 1996 and 2016—and fragrance is among the most common contact patch test allergens in haircare products.
Any source of fragrance can be problematic for those with fragrance sensitivity. In addition to skin irritation or allergy, fragrance has the potential to trigger migraines and asthma flare-ups, and lead to a runny nose, congestion, or watery eyes.
It’s important to note that there’s a big difference between truly fragrance-free products and “unscented” products. The latter are often formulated with additional fragrance to mask natural ingredient odors and create a “fragrance-free” olfactory illusion.
Keep in mind that fragrance sensitivity that affects your skin, nose, or eyes aren’t the only reasons to choose scent-free products. Certain professionals (such as healthcare workers) may be asked to limit their use of fragrance, or you just might not want your hair and skincare products to interfere with the signature scent of your perfume.
SEEN’s fragrance-free products offer all of the benefits of luxury haircare (and skincare!) with none of the drawbacks. Beyond being fragrance-free, all of our products are also non-comedogenic (so they won’t clog pores), non-irritating, and safe for sensitive skin. This means you can enjoy stronger, smoother, healthier hair without worrying about aggravating sensitive skin or your products’ potential to clog pores–since clogged pores can lead to breakouts..