With so many allergies, sensitive skin problems and the growing desire to "go green", consumers are opting for products that don't contain any added fragrance-- or so they think. Unfortunately, there is quite a bit of ambiguity on the part of the FDA regarding appropriate wording for products that contain no added fragrance.
My twitter friend, Krissy90220, noticed that one of her personal care products was labeled "unscented" but had "fragrance" listed in the ingredients. Krissy, like most consumers felt that the label was misleading and illegal even... but, according to the FDA, this is quite alright.
There is no documented FDA definition for "unscented" or "fragrance free" which means the terms can be used freely on product labels. The FDA does, however, require that if fragrance is used in a product it be listed in the ingredients. Generally speaking, unscented is used when a product contains fragrance only to mask the chemical smell of other ingredients in the formula. Fragrance free is most often used when no fragrance exists in the formula at all. It's not likely that leading brands will have truly fragrance free products due to the number of synthetic ingredients that are typically used. Small handmade product lines that are labeled unscented or fragrance free are more likely to be authentic. If you find a product that is labeled unscented or fragrance free, does not list fragrance in the list, but still smells scented, it is probably misbranded. Misbranding is subject to penalty by the FDA and should be reported due to the possible implications.
If you have sensitivities to fragrant chemicals and seek a product that undoubtedly contains no fragrance, the front label will not give you all the assurances you need. Always read the ingredients list on the back label of a product to be sure that what you perceive is what you will receive.
Until next time... Here's to the glam life!