Cosmetics and pharmaceutical companies use fragrances to impart a clean, sweet and psychologically pleasing odor to their products. While it may seem nice to smell like a field of blossoming wildflowers, these artificial and natural additives can wreak havoc on sensitive skin.
In fact, dermatologists agree that fragrances in products like moisturizers and soaps are the main cause of irritation for people with sensitive skin [source: Mayo Clinic]. The problem is that there are more than 5,000 different fragrances that are used to make moisturizers and other skin care products, so it's very difficult to pinpoint exactly which fragrance is the culprit [source: AAD].
The best advice when looking for a sensitive skin moisturizer is to stick with products that are "fragrance-free," not just "unscented." Unscented could mean that fragrances were used to neutralize any odors created by other ingredients [source: AAD].
If you check the back of the box, look for "fragrances" among the ingredients. They're also called "parfums" in Europe, so look for that name on the boxes of your more exotic products.