How to Choose Right Fragrance for Your Cosmetics

The mesmerizing fragrance of your alluring cosmetic products can cause allergic reactions like skin irritation and rashes in some people. Fragrance in your cosmetic products can also cause severe allergies like asthma and headache which can drift away your consumers from buying your cosmetic product. Fragrance creation is an integral part of cosmetic formulation as it combines an artistic vision with an understanding of fragrance material chemistries and their dynamics together.

If you are starting your cosmetic business and ready with your product it is pivotal to consider several factors like strength of your product’s smell, stability to light and heat, compatibility of ingredients with one another and interaction with product packaging.  Some fragrance ingredients evaporate rapidly, while others remain on the skin for longer periods. The interplay of these properties over time is important to achieve the desired final effect and yields an aesthetically pleasing product. Fragrance in cosmetic products creates psychological impact among consumers which indeed could be a decisive factor for consumers to buy it or not.

What is fragrance?

Fragrances are complex combinations of natural and/or man-made substances that are added to many consumer products to give them a distinctive scent. They are used in a wide variety of products to impart a pleasant odor and/or mask the inherent smell of some other ingredients, enhancing the overall experience of using the product.

Fragrances have the power to alleviate stress and signify cleanliness.

Impact of fragrance on skin

Whether its synthetic fragrances, natural fragrances, and essential oils it can cause reaction to sensitive skin. From foundations to moisturizers, cleansers and serums, fragrances are found in a plethora of beauty products. It is crucial that the fragrance ingredients in cosmetics should be in compliance with safety regulations thereby keeping its safety and efficacy with proper labeling directions.

How to Know If a Fragrance Product Is Regulated as a Cosmetic

A per the law if a product is intended to be applied to a person’s body to improve and enhance the appearance to make the person more attractive, moreover the fragrance ingredients are also commonly used in other products, such as shampoos, shower gels, shaving creams, and body lotions. Even some products labeled “unscented” may contain fragrance ingredients. The manufacturer can add fragrance to evade the unpleasant smell of different cosmetic ingredients without giving the product a noticeable scent. 

Safety Requirements

According to the FDA   fragrance ingredients in cosmetics must meet the same requirement for safety as other cosmetic ingredients. However, there is no particular law to require FDA approval before reaching the target market. Significantly, the labeled directions should be safe for consumers. Safety and efficacy should be the prime factor in the manufacturing of cosmetic products.

Fragrance Allergies and Sensitivities

Ironically, the pleasing fragrance of your cosmetic products can also be a trigger for allergic reactions in consumers who are prone to certain allergies. The purchasing behavior of consumers depends a lot on fragrance selection for successful business and astounding consumer experience. This is why the enchanting fragrance of your cosmetic products can be a major factor behind a product’s success.

Choose the right fragrance for your target audience

The fragrance of your beauty and personal care products functions several ways. It serves the twin purpose of covering the base odor of the product formulation as well as quality and popularity. It makes you fulfill the requirements of your target audience. Its impact is noticeable in all the marketing elements of your cosmetic product like packaging design, marketing claims, product’s name and brand image to a great extent.

Technical considerations

Right fragrance for your cosmetic product will manifest stability with formulation and packaging material used to avoid any glitches like color discoloration or degradation due to heat, time, humidity, light exposure, and other environmental elements.

Sensory quality

Sensory quality plays a crucial role in purchase of your cosmetic product as consumers judge the product by looking at the product packaging, the color of the formulation, viscosity, as well as its smell. The entire sensorial experience could be determined by the fragrance of your product. On the contrary, unpleasant fragrance could change consumers’ perception about your product.

Fragrance activates the limbic system of the brain and creates perception in the minds of consumers and it will make them buy your product again and again.


 A fragrance is an amalgamation of various volatile compounds such as alcohols, esters, terpenes, ketones, aldehydes, and oxides. They may be entirely naturally sourced, contain a mixture of natural and synthetic aromatics, or be entirely synthetic in composition.

A glance at the materials used for fragrance in cosmetic product;

Essential Oils

The extraction of oil-rich plant components of aromatic botanicals such as flowers, leaves, roots, wood, or fruit peels can add tremendous value and therapeutic properties that contribute to product’s performance.


Extracted from waxy concrete through the use of Ethanol, Absolutes are liquids of thick consistency and are highly fragrant. They present the advantage of capturing the aromas of botanicals that cannot be subjected to steam distillation. Commonly used Absolutes include Jasmine, Rose, Tuberose, and Lotus.

Fragrance Oils

These are complex blends of various aroma chemicals and other aromatic compounds. They are highly popular due to their low cost, consistency, and vast selections. Fragrance Oils can give the scent of a fresh lime, ripe mango, chocolate, or the scent of a summer rain shower, which may be impossible to capture in a natural sense. Fragrance Oils that are body-safe can also be added to cosmetics, soaps, shampoos, perfumes, and other products that make contact with the skin and hair.

Stay relevant and updated with customer surveys

Customer surveys are certainly an integral part of cosmetic business as it will make you aware of the consumers’ needs, expectations and desire from a particular product. A well-researched survey will give you the idea of customer preferences in choosing fragrances of their product.

Regulatory concerns and Allergens

The FDA does not have the legal authority to approve cosmetic products and ingredients, aside from color additives. An allergen can trigger the immune system to release chemical substances such as antibodies that result in allergy symptoms.


Marketing Considerations

Signature fragrances not only signal prestige and desirability but they also quickly create brand differentiation. Like if a brand has already released a line of sandalwood scented body moisturizers, launching a range of soaps with a similar fragrance profile will pair nicely with brand image and will help achieve cohesive branding. Similarly, if your brand is all about catering to those with sensitive or problematic skin, synthetic fragrances may not be a good choice. Customers of such a brand may be expecting fragrance-free and non-irritant formulations.

Market Research 

A well-organized market research will help uncover potential gaps in the market and gain insight into popular existing or upcoming fragrance trends. In cosmetic business an ideal consumer is examined in terms of gender, age group country, academic background, as well as likes and preferences. It has been noticed that the younger age groups tend to attribute more importance to fragrance when it comes to making a purchasing decision about personal care products.

Technical Considerations

Fragrances are complex in composition and could potentially interact with the product ingredients, resulting in problems such as discoloration or unpleasant changes in the aroma.

Complications can also arise once the product goes into storage; temperature fluctuations, humidity, or sunlight exposure can all result in unpredictable changes. It is important that the fragrance selection should ultimately give stability, compatibility throughout the product’s lifespan.

pH of the fragrance

A fragrance that behaves optimally in a neutral to the marginally alkaline environment may degrade within a highly acidic or highly alkaline formulation. 

The use of certain actives such as Aluminum salts in deodorant and antiperspirant products create acidic environments that can often cause problems with fragrances. Fragrances can have inherent colors that can interfere with the base color of the formula.

Why is it used in cosmetics and personal care products?

Consumer research indicates that fragrance is one of the key factors that affect people’s preference for cosmetics and personal care products.

Labeling of Fragrance Ingredients

Your cosmetic product requires labeling of list of ingredients as each ingredient must be listed individually except the fragrance. FDA allows

product manufacturers to list fragrance components collectively on the label under the heading of ‘fragrance.’

Common Allergens Found in Cosmetic Products

The FDA has compiled the list below of common allergens found in some cosmetic products. These are allergens that cause most allergic reactions from the use of products.

Allergens in Cosmetics 

The FDA monitors the adverse event reporting, conducts scientific research on mechanism of allergic reaction and its response with the immune system of the body. Besides it conducts research on consumer practices, the frequency of adverse reactions and consumers awareness of allergens in cosmetics.

FDA conducts consumer surveys and focus groups to collect the following information:

  • How consumers use cosmetics;
  • How often consumers experience an adverse reaction from the use of cosmetics with potential allergens;
  • How aware are consumers of the presence of allergens in cosmetics; and
  • What actions (if any) do consumers take to avoid allergens in cosmetics.


 In this blog we shed light on fragrance selection for your cosmetic product and how significant it is in giving fillip to your cosmetic business. 

Click here to read our next blog in this series on the importance of the right container closure system for your cosmetic products.

Anupama Yadav

Anupama Yadav

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