When I was growing up, all those years ago, I remember going into the shopping malls and walking through the beauty section with all the free sprays and sample perfumes and colognes. The next day, after sampling the various fragrances on my neck and the back of my hands, my skin would be irritated and red.
For years I never attributed that to the fragrances I put on my skin the day before. I blamed it on the wool lining of my pea coat or thought that my soap had dried out my skin. Only now do I realize that, of course, it was the oils in the fragrances that were causing my skin to react so negatively.
Taking that knowledge, I applied it to fragrance oils in spray tan solutions and did some research.
This is what I found:
1. Fragrance was voted Allergen of the Year in 2007 by the American Contact Dermatitis Society.
A lot of the fear concerning fragrances comes from the fact that companies are not required to disclose the actual chemicals used in their fragrance formulas, which raises concerns among some consumers1.
Basically the companies are acting like vintage cigarette advertisements: They tell you the terrific and leave out the terrible.
(2013’s Allergen of the year was Methylisothiazolinone or MIT or MI; Found in hand-creams, lotions, and other leave-on cosmetics.)
2. Fragrance oils and essential oils are not the same thing!
Fragrance oils are primarily synthetic—made with things like oil byproducts, vegetable oil, and petroleum. While fragrances can be made from essential oils, oftentimes companies will go the shortcut route. This is because it is a lot more work to properly treat, dilute, and accommodate an essential oil into a compound rather than simply create the same fragrance in the lab.
Fun fact: it takes 100 pounds of plant material to make one pound of lavender oil.
3. Causes allergies via peanut allergies and stuff
Allergens are like a bad date: they make you uncomfortable, never leave you alone, and make you regret ever giving them a chance
In England, 11 people a day are diagnosed with a peanut allergy
55% of Americans have some form of allergies
According to a fragrance sensitivity study on the US National Library of Medicine, 30% of participants claimed that fragrances were irritating, while 19% reported experiencing health problems related to fragrances2.
That means 94.2 Million people find fragrances irritating, while 62.6 Million have fragrance-related health problems.
To put this in perspective: the largest city in the world, Shanghai, has only 17 Million people (New York City only has 8 Million).
4. Can cause eczema and other reactions
One of the components in many fragrance oils is propylene glycol. Basically fragrance oils are your junk mail, and propylene glycol is the mailman—but one you want your dog to attack.
According to a 2010 study by Karlstad University, the concentrations of PGEs (counted as the sum of propylene glycol and glycol ethers) has been linked to increased risk of developing numerous respiratory and immune disorders in children, including asthma, hay fever, eczema, and allergies, with increased risk ranging from 50% to 180%.
5. Dries slower
The bottom line here is simple: the longer you have to attend to a client, the less you are making per hour. If you charge 30 dollars for a spray tan and it takes you an hour then you are making 30 dollars an hour; however, if your appointment takes half an hour then now you can potentially make 60 dollars an hour because you can service two clients where before you could only serve one.
So simply put, it’s in your best interest to have a spray tan solution that has the fastest drying time you can find: and a solution that has fragrance oils will dry slower than one which does not have fragrance oils. Why? Because oil and oil byproducts take a long time to dry.
6. Causes it to be stickier
Because fragrance oils often include oil byproducts like propylene glycol, many spray tan solutions with fragrances will leave your skin feeling sticky and tacky. The reason why oil makes your skin feel tacky is because your skin cannot absorb the oil quickly so it just sits on top of your skin for a long time.
7. Causes stains
Like a skunk with a leak, fragrance oil will stain your clothes, your bed sheets, your sofa, your dog, and possibly your hair.
8. Fragrances also means oils and alcohols
If you have fragrance oil in your spray tan solution, it means you also need alcohols to counteract stickiness and the other effects of the synthetic compound. In addition to making your spray tan fade blotchily, these alcohols have side effects and problems of their own—which you can check out in my article:
And if you have alcohol in your spray tan solution then you also need more oils. See what oils do to your spray tan in my other article: 6 Reasons Why Alcohol is Bad in a Spray Tan Solution
And if you have oils, alcohols, and fragrance oils, you will also need…see where I’m going with this?
The bottom line is this: the more you put into a spray tan solution, the less effective it will be. The more you put into a spray tan solution, the more likely it is that you are going to cause an allergic reaction.