About Me

I’m a California-based voice & visual artist. I immerse myself in creative adventure by exploring multiple genres, styles, and forms in my writing and art. I also make short films. ❤️robots.

Alonna's Favorite Fragrance-Free Products 2021

Hello! ACURE for Better Life: a CLEAN ethique Lumes FREE & CLEAR Baby!

I walk the line between organic and synthetic products. All organic doesn't guarantee a reaction-free outcome. Synthetic generally points to petroleum-based products and includes highly processed nature-derived ingredients. A few favorites from previous years popped up on this list.

Ceramedx Fragrance-Free Foaming Cleanser
Ceramedx Soothing Facial Lotion
Koh Gen Do SPA Cleansing Water Cloths
Koh Gen Do SPA Brightening Moisture Mask
Honest Extreme Length Mascara + Lash Primer
Kind Lips Unscented Organic Lip Balm
Burt's Bees Baby Face & Hand Cloths
Curad Truly Ouchless Silicone Bandage

Better Life Scent-Free Hand and Body Soap
Lume Unscented Natural Soap
Lume Unscented Cream Deodorant Stick
Lume Acidified Body Wash
Lume Acidified Body Butter
Burt's Bees Baby Chlorine-Free Wipes
Kroger Advanced Waterproof Bandage

Acure Juice Cleanse Shampoo
Jessicurl Cleansing Cream No Fragrance Added
Ethique In The Buff Unscented Conditioner Bar
Vanicream (Free & Clear) Hair Styling Gel
Challenger Men's CLEAN Cream Pomade
Kristin Ess Fragrance-Free Grooming Cream

Hello activated charcoal fluoride-free toothpaste
Silk dental floss byHumandkind

Cleaning (not pictured):

Surfactants like sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) are often sudsy culprits that dry out the scalp. I strictly avoid SLS. America's oldest trade association of its kind says this. This consumer-based site has additional information, including synonyms. Paula's Choice rates SLS as worst. Dry skin invites other irritations and health problems like rashes. Sometimes the surfactant itself isn't the problem, but how much of it we use. I lather a small portion of shampoo in my hands before applying it to my roots and scalp. This past year I've been trying to protect my hair and scalp by using the smallest amount of shampoo, so minimal no visible suds occur while washing my hair.

The old marketing ploy "wash, rinse, repeat" is helpful when using the no-suds approach. Two light washes are better for the hair and scalp than one super sudsy wash that strips your skin and hair bare. Generally, that "repeat" ploy, in my opinion, cries out the capitalist manifesto to sell consumers more by getting us to use more. The bottom line, using less saves money and is better for the skin. I've included product links for more information, including ingredients. We're all a little different in what is comfortable and non-irritating.

There are many scent-related labels. Too many. Too confusing for consumers and product makers: fragrance-free, scent-free, no scent, unscented, no added fragrance, masking fragrance (if you experience symptoms like you would with fragrance, this may be the culprit because it is fragrance), etc. The EPA has a helpful first stop with this slippery language.

Sure, some humans enjoy scented products. Good etiquette asks us to be responsible for our airspace and not infringe upon others—smoking is a clear example. Smoking a cigarette overwhelms the immediate environment while smoke drifts across distances to others; indoors, it coats walls with a yellow dinginess and permeates materials in a semi-permanent or permanent way. Back in my swing dancing days, smoking was allowed indoors. On drives home, I held my long hair out the open car window. That was never enough to rid my strands of the ashtray odor. No doubt I've had too much second-hand smoke exposure in my life! We all know the detrimental health ramifications of tobacco products. Like smoke, scent sticks around coats us inside and out. Nose blindness interferes with our ability to protect ourselves leaving our bodies and brains vulnerable to the negative health effects of scent.

There's nothing like the dryer scent pouring out of one house filling the neighborhood, nothing good, that is. It would be so nice if scent were treated as an intimate thing instead of a perfumed cacophony overtaking shared spaces. Often, product makers rely on scent as the primary way to differentiate their products from others. Are the products really different, or is fragrance what's being sold? Online, Fortune Business Insights states key market insights for the global scent industry which raked in ~30 billion US dollars of your money during both 2020 and 2021 with dramatic growth expectations for the coming years.

If there's nothing special about a product…why pay for a scent when we want to feel clean and moisturized? Marketing makes us feel like we're bad at cleaning and being clean if we don't opt for fragrance. Fragrance doesn't take away body odor, it adds an additional odor, so that creates scented BO.

In my opinion, there will never be ingredient transparency as long as Big money dictates fragrance ingredient information as proprietary. Consumers are blinded to what we're actually applying and ingesting. Term confusion is such a time suck. Why should we have to be detectives just to wash our hair? Wouldn't it be pleasant if labels kept things simple and straightforward, and scent marketing wasn't used in stores plucking our strings like we're puppets? Sigh, that would be so nice.

Product branding and packaging can be a compelling way to get consumers' attention. Why can’t companies rely on visual creativity to differentiate their products from competitors? The easy money generated by scent removes hope of a cleaner environment and better quality of life. We can never be clean with layers of scent coating our lungs, eyes, skin, clothing, cars, hotel rooms, homes, dental floss, air...I abandoned my favorite slippers when the manufacturer started scenting the memory foam cushion with vanilla. It's everywhere.

About product testing, sometimes I react immediately; other times, a couple of weeks will pass before I develop a reaction. Just because a product works for me doesn't mean it'll be a good fit for others.

Hopefully, some of these products will be helpful. For a baseline, I have thick wavy fine-to-medium hair currently shoulder length. My skin is fair, sensitive, and prone to dryness. Water quality and conditions affect our skin and how products work. Currently, I use salt-free softened water which can increase suds.

Face Products:

Ceramedx Fragrance-Free Gentle Foaming Facial Cleanser appeals to my long-gone days of loving suds. The bottle is doing the work of creating a sudsy feel without the extreme drying of SLS or other sulfates. The pH is 5.5 and sulfate-free.

Ceramedx Soothing Facial Lotion contains plant-based ceramides and has a 5.5 pH. From their website, "Our exclusive Riceramide®-3 technology, a blend of plant-based ceramides, natural essential fatty acids and cholesterol combined with soothing emollients and hydrators, provides needed moisture and helps support skin's natural protective barrier."

Koh Gen Do Spa Cleansing Water Cloths are more substantial than any other wipe I've encountered. I absolutely love these for removing makeup.

Koh Gen Do SPA Brightening Moisture Mask does what it claims. My skin always looks brighter, healthier, and feels great. ❤️

Honest Extreme Length Mascara + Lash Primer creates buildable lashes using a white glue-like base coat from one end of the tube. The mascara is in the other end. It easily washes off with a face cleanser, water, and a washcloth. No harsh eye makeup remover is required. Use a spoolie brush to smooth out any clumps.

Kind Lips Unscented Organic Lip Balm, the name describes this product perfectly! The balm is a kind balm. Super clear organic ingredients: coconut oil, beeswax, olive oil, shea butter, jojoba oil, Vitamin E. (My most recent purchase has been cross-contaminated with scent, so I'll need to reorder.)

Burt's Bees Baby Face & Hand Cloths, formulated without fragrance, is my go-to wipe for removing sunscreen. I always rinse my face after using wipes. Their website shows the new packaging and ingredient order revision, possibly indicating that amounts may have changed. I haven't tried the updated version.

CURAD Truly Ouchless Silicone Bandages, truly, really—ouchless—unlike any other bandage I've ever used. The somewhat bulky tape portion has a cushion-like feel. No reaction at all on the face, even when applying a fresh bandage daily for weeks (I had some sunspots removed). Adhesives are problematic for me, often leaving a light scar that takes months to fade away.

Body Products:

Better Life Scent-Free Hand and Body Soap is concentrated and easy to pump out a small amount. This bottle seems to last forever despite my frequent hand washings. It can also be used on the face, body, and hair, but I've only used it as hand soap so far.

Lume Unscented Natural Soap is my new daily bar. It's very sudsy, though, and as previously mentioned, I have a disdain for suds, so I try not to over-soap. This bar, per person, lasts a long time! Lume doesn't use a masking fragrance. (The label lists "naturally derived fragrances" but that is an error.)

Lume Unscented Cream Deodorant Stick, I love this applicator for easy direct application or dial up some cream and use fingertips. Let's be clear this is not an antiperspirant that stops wetness. This is a deodorant only, and it works all day. I use the same less-is-better strategy with this product, too. It can be reapplied if needed. No masking fragrance.

Lume Acidified Body Wash is pH optimized (3.5 pH) and reminds me of the sea air I love. It's hard to describe…I feel cleaner after using this body wash. Lume claims its low pH helps to eliminate odor reactions. I feel like there's an adjustment period for the skin to realize this product works with it instead of against it. During my tests, I washed from head to toe, avoiding eyes. This made my scalp feel good (but it did seem to dry my hair, so I hope they make a non-drying Lume acidified shampoo!). Washing my hair with it was part of my off-label testing—this body wash is not for hair.

Lume Acidified Body Butter contains alpha-hydroxy (AHA). I like the feel of this 3.5 pH body moisturizer—it's good to know that the AHA may increase skin's sensitivity to the sun. There is a light smell.

Burt's Bees Baby Chlorine-Free Wipes, my go-to wipe for cleaning my hands when a sanitizer isn't required. The product name is confusing. They replaced "chlorine-free" with "sensitive." The ingredients are the same at the time of writing this.

Kroger Advanced Antibacterial Waterproof Bandages are minimal, which I appreciate. The transparent portion of the bandage feels like sandwich plastic wrap and makes a 360° seal. I like these for the body. They haven't left marks and don't irritate my skin. The application can be a little tricky; go slowly and press all sides down securely for the waterproof seal. I prefer these to Nexcare, which has a different shape creating a slightly better seal.

Hair Products:

Acure Juice Cleanse Supergreens & Adaptogens Shampoo does have a light scent from the natural oils and extracts, not from synthetic perfume. The good news is that it pretty much rinses away in the shower and is gentle on my hair and scalp. I never would've pursued this product because the ingredient list includes oils and extracts, but I had a sample and thought I'd give it a try. Glad I did. The conditioner wasn't a good option for me because the scent lingers.

Jessicurl Cleansing Cream No Fragrance Added, a shampoo and conditioner combination. I've always wanted to try a 2-in-1 combo! I use a minimal amount, between the size of a nickel and quarter, and lather it up in my hands, not on my head. The goal: avoid excess suds because that's usually an indicator the product will cause dryness and irritate my scalp. I work the cleansing cream through my roots and rinse. Wow, what a surprise. My no-suds approach with this product was a revelation! My hair feels so light and clean, as well as lightly conditioned. My new approach to products is to use less than I think I need. Jessicurl offers free samples with paid postage.

Ethique In The Buff Unscented, solid conditioner bar for sensitive skin takes a few uses to determine the appropriate number of swipes depending on hair length and thickness. I do four light swipes from crown to ends and then work it through my hair. It feels waxy if I do too many swipes. This bar seems to last forever! From Amazon, "One bar is the equivalent to 5 conditioner bottles & is good for up to 80 uses." They offer a mini size, too. I love that they've reduced their packaging.

Vanicream Hair Styling Gel, formerly known as Free & Clear. No apparent ingredient changes. I apply this to dry hair to avoid getting it directly on my scalp, face, and shoulders. I don't enjoy that coated, itchy feeling when any styling product gets on my skin. This gel does have a bit of an ingredient odor which is manageable for me. It's easy to apply using the desired amount spread across palms or fingertips. I lightly tap and drag it through my hair, shaping a bit as I go.

Challenger Men's CLEAN Cream Pomade
 has branding geared for men, which can sometimes be a helpful clue that it doesn't contain scent. This is my new favorite because this styling cream has no smell and a malleable tackiness. I use the same tap-and-drag application procedure as the Vanicream gel.

Kristin Ess Fragrance-Free Soft Shine Grooming Cream has a light feel. I apply to dry hair. There is a manageable odor from the necessary ingredients but no added fragrance. Great for dealing with those little fly-away hairs, too!

Dental Products:

Hello activated charcoal fluoride-free toothpaste—my first reaction, hmmm, I don't know about charcoal black toothpaste. It's messy, or I thought it was messy until I realized it actually shows what happens when we spit and rinse. So I just improved my spit technique reducing splatter. This is my absolute favorite toothpaste for cleaning, whitening, and just-enough freshness. I love that my tube of black paste greets me hello. I brush before coffee in the morning. Strong mintiness wouldn't be compatible with my enjoyment of that first cup in the morning.

Silk dental floss byHumankind has a minimalist refillable container ($3). Check their website for accurate colors. I tried this because the container appeals to my branding sensibilities. Love the simplicity, ease of use, plus condensed labeling. The dispenser reminds me of the 1950's mint tiles in so many Los Angeles apartments. It looks like they've discontinued their terrific unscented floss (medium thread with just the right amount of vegan wax)! I wonder how strong the mint might be. In the meantime, I've refilled the container with Radius unscented, lightly waxed, and slightly thinner silk floss (update: the Radius floss is not a smooth pull out of byHumankind's container like their floss. I will try another floss in the future. I love this container.)
Cleaning Product:

(not pictured) Honest Disinfecting Spray is so incredible! Ingredients: Water (solvent), Hydrogen Peroxide (disinfecting), Surfactant Blend (suds), Citric Acid (pH adjuster), Alkylbenzene Sulfonic Acid (surfactant). I use this to clean surfaces plus one off-label experiment. I love how it'll produce a little foam when sitting on the grout! It's just so satisfying to see it at work. My experiment involved old synthetic lightweight base-layer tops I work out in. Synthetics get so stinky. These were headed for the trash, so I tried the Honest Cleaning Spray on the pit area, including seams. I had nothing to lose. Spray, rub, toss into the washer right away (with a normal load of laundry). Warm water wash, extra rinse, and low dryer setting. I was shocked that this product removed the odor! I've tried other sprays, tried to scrub it out with soap, but wow! This worked. It's been close to a year, and the tops are still holding up fine. I've tested it as a spot cleaner on colorfast cotton tees with good results. At some point, I know I'll try it on a fabric that won't go well, but that's the nature of experiments. Some must fail. One tip, wear gloves because the spray cleaner will dry out skin and nails.

That's a wrap on my fragrance-free blog posts. Ten years ago, when I began in 2012, I felt vulnerable with this secret shame that I wasn't like everyone else. These posts gradually helped me to feel part of a community. I thank skintellectuals and pros out there who let sensitive people know we weren't alone on this healthful journey. The toxic-free-living pioneer Debra Lynn Dadd helped me in many ways, from her books and website to consulting when renovating my home. Sadly, she passed in 2021, but her spirit remains with me. My small contribution is a thank you to all those who read or write about the frustrations and negative health effects of fragrance and essential oils. As a reader, I continue to expand my awareness free from the label of weird. We're all different in our health and sensitivity needs.

Readers, thank you for visiting me here. I hope some of these products might work for you. We are in this together. Voting with our dollars is one way for our health and happiness to be taken more seriously. If your favorite store doesn't carry fragrance-free options, let them know you would buy fragrance-free if they stocked fragrance-free items on their shelves (away from the laundry aisle!).

For more of my fragrance-free living posts:

Disclaimer: This blog post is for entertainment and inspirational purposes only. I have not received any compensation from any companies mentioned. I am not endorsing anyone or any products. The opinions expressed are mine alone and should not be considered medical advice.

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