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Is Fragrance Bad For Hair? Yes, Here's Why

Do you have a hair care product that smells great but makes your hair feel like crap? Sadly, this is becoming increasingly common in the hair care industry. That is because fragrances often contain artificial ingredients that aren't just bad for your hair and overall health. 

So, what fragrance chemicals should you look out for? And how do you prioritize natural scents in the hair products that you use every day? 

If you want to discover the answer to all of these questions and more, you're in the right guide. In this article, we'll walk you through everything you need to know about this vital hair topic. Let's dive in!

What Is Fragrance In Hair Products?

Fragrance in hair products is used to apply an attractive scent to the products we use every day. For many people, the way they smell is of the utmost importance. It's drilled into our heads that if we don't smell like lavender or vanilla 24/7, then we're somehow unclean. 

And it's not limited to perfumes or deodorants; fragrances are also found in many hair products. Generally speaking, you can break most fragrances down into four main categories. They include:

  • Manmade fragrances
  • All-natural fragrances
  • Essential fragrances
  • Aromatic fragrances

It's certainly not a bad thing to want to smell good. However, what is bad is the thousands of chemicals that often go into these fragrances. Let's take a closer inspection at why this is a controversial issue in the hair care industry. 

Why Is Fragrance Controversial In the Haircare Industry?

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Here's where fragrance becomes a problem. Hair care companies can claim that their fragrances are trade secrets. Because of this, they're allowed to scoot past United States manufacturer regulations that provide transparency. 

To keep their trade secrets safe, these manufacturers aren't required to list any ingredients that go into their fragrances. So when you look on the back of your hair care product ingredient list, you might see something simply labeled "fragrance." 

Now, in your mind, that's simply a blend of one or two ingredients. That's rarely the case. The reality is that this fragrance ingredient can contain between fifty to three hundred different chemicals. 

And as we'll see in the next section, many of these chemicals can have adverse health effects. 

Related: Do Dreadlocks Smell? Dreadlocks Health and Hygiene Guide

What Are the Negative Health Effects of Fragrance?

Unfortunately, there are quite a few adverse health reactions that come when you use fragrance. The most common ones include things like irritated skin. This is especially true if you have allergies to the chemicals in question.

These skin problems can lead to dry hair and dandruff. However, these are far from the only health effects caused by fragrances. More serious ones include things like:

  • Hormonal imbalance
  • Infertility
  • Congenital disabilities in your children
  • Cancer
  • Migraines
  • Endocrine disruption
  • Irregular periods
  • Respiratory problems

Some people even literally experience poisoning when they apply these fragrant hair products. This is known as perfume poisoning, and it can cause permanent damage to your overall health. 

Related: Everything You Need to Know About Residue-Free Shampoo

What Fragrance Chemicals Should You Watch Out For?

Avoiding harmful fragrance chemicals is an essential part of taking care of your locs. But exactly which chemicals should you look for? 

As we said earlier, there are hundreds of chemicals out there. But some are far worse than others. As such, make sure you look out for things like:

If you notice that your hair care products contain any of these chemicals, make sure that you steer clear. Certain hair care ingredients, like amino acids, have a naturally terrible smell. As such, these harsh chemicals can help cover up some of these unpleasant scents.

You might wonder why companies even put these chemicals in their products first. Many of these chemicals are banned in other countries. Unfortunately, in the United States, they're perfectly legal for companies to use. 

Want some products that avoid all of these harmful ingredients? Check out this helpful guide to find ten perfect hair products for locs. 

Are All Fragrances Bad?

Woman in White Long Sleeve Shirt Holding A Box Of Essential Oils


Not all fragrances are created equally. Some scents might be necessary to cover up certain unpleasant smells, like dread rot. The key is to look for products that derive their aromas from natural sources, not manufactured chemicals. 

For example, essential oils are typically derived from one plant source. It's the cleanest way to apply good smells to your products. And, while there may be allergy concerns for some people, there are little to no adverse health effects associated with them. 

Other scents, like coconut oil, smell great on their own. So, just because something smells good doesn't mean it's bad for you. But be wary of products that don't use these natural scents. Oddly, they have a dirty secret they're trying to hide from you. 

Interested in learning more about a company that only uses natural fragrances in its products? Make sure to read the full Lion Locs about us page

Related: 2-In-1 Co-Wash for Dreadlocks

The Importance of Looking For Natural Hair Care Products

Just because you avoid artificial fragrances doesn't mean that you need to smell bad. Plenty of natural scents out there smell great without harmful chemicals. Just take our Advanced Rose Water Spray as an example. 

However, finding these types of natural products will take some effort. They also cost more than cheap synthetic products. But remember that smelling good is never worth jeopardizing your health over. So go the extra mile to find products that list all the ingredients in them. 

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