Photo: ThinkstockBy Jenny Bailly
What you think it means: Free of any fragrances.
What it really means: The product doesn't have a detectable odor--but may contain fragrances to mask its natural scent. If you're trying to avoid fragrance ingredients (which are the most common allergens found in skincare products), "fragrance-free" is a better label to look for--although it, too, can be tricky. "If the primary reason for including a fragrance is not related to scent--some fragrances, for example, can act as preservatives--then a product may still be labeled fragrance-free," says Baumann.
What to look for instead: If possible, test products labeled fragrance-free on your inner wrist and wait a day to see if you have any reaction. You can also scan ingredient lists for the most common fragrances that cause allergies: cinnamic alcohol, cinnamic aldehyde, eugenol, hydroxy-citronellal, geraniol, isoeugenol, and oak moss absolute.
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