1. What's the difference between fragrance-free and unscented?

Fragrance-free and unscented are two terms that seem to be interchangeable, but have significant differences in their meanings that you should be aware of.

Unscented products are those that have no discernible scent. Often, an unscented product can be achieved by using chemicals called masking fragrances to neutralize, or "cover up" the odor of ingredients already in the product. While they aren't as easy to detect, masking fragrances can be just as harmful and sensitizing as traditional scent-inducing fragrance.

Products specifically labeled as fragrance-free are going to be your safest bet. Fragrance-free means that fragrance ingredients (masking or otherwise) were not used in the formulation of the product. However, we caution you to always complete your due diligence, because even products labeled as fragrance-free can sometimes contain sensitizing ingredients that serve other purposes in the product—like natural oils being used as emollients, for example.

Alabaster products are always 100% fragrance-free. No gimmicks. 

2. Are alcohols bad for your skin?

The answer to this question depends entirely on the type of alcohol involved. We'll start with the bad ones that you should definitely avoid using on your skin.

SD, or denatured alcohols, are extremely drying and harmful to the skin. In addition to drying out the surface, they can also disrupt the skin's microbiome and adversely affect how it restores itself. Whenever you see this type of alcohol on an ingredient list (especially if it's near the top), run.

Fatty alcohols, on the other hand, include things like cetyl and stearyl alcohol and offer amazing emollient and preservative properties in skincare products. On top of that, they are also completely non-irritating and can be used on even the most sensitive skin types.

3. Is fragrance bad in skincare?

Fragrance is a commonly used and seemingly harmless addition to many skincare products. However, while much credit is given to fragrance for its amazing-smell-inducing capabilities, there is often little discussion about the potentially harmful repercussions of using it on the skin.

To start, "fragrance" is not just one ingredient. Because the term is so unregulated, "fragrance" on a skincare ingredient list could actually refer to hundreds of different chemicals used to give the product a scent. Manufacturers are not required to specify which fragrance chemicals are used, leaving consumers mostly in the dark about what's actually going on their skin.

Adding to this is the fact that fragrance is a non-essential ingredient that can sensitize the skin over time. Unlike such ingredients as hyaluronic acid or benzoyl peroxide, fragrance does not serve any role in cleansing, moisturizing, or protecting the skin. As a result, when fragrance is applied, the skin is more likely to notice something doesn't belong and become irritated in response.  

Even if you don't consider yourself to be a person with sensitive skin, your safest bet will always be to stick with products that are 100% fragrance-free.

4. Why are colors/dyes bad in skincare?

Much like fragrance, dyes and colors are ingredients that serve no actual role in skincare other than to make a product more attractive. Manufacturers know that consumers love when their skincare products contain beautiful hues like purple, green, or pink, and so they use artificial colorants to create a more pleasing look than the product would have otherwise. 

What's the harm in that? Several things, actually. Artificial dyes often contain harmful ingredients like coal tar, petroleum and lead—and it can take dozens of them to produce just one color! Your skin recognizes these ingredients as intruders and responds with blocked pores and irritation. Furthermore, dyes are absorbed into the blood through the skin, where their toxic ingredients can cause further damage internally.